As we approach the end of two months of “sheltering in place” and social distancing, some aspects of life have changed dramatically while others have stayed (stubbornly!) the same.  Here is a sampling of the good, the bad and the ugly as experienced by one autism mom.

  1. Spending 7 days a week with my husband and adult autistic daughter is far from ideal (but not as terrible as I feared). We have too much time together and too little time to ourselves.
  2. Peace and quiet are in short supply.
  3. Until the last few days, cars have been so few and far between that traffic lights are meaningless. I can (mostly) cross on red. As traffic has increased—with drivers wearing masks—I get the sense that more people are out and about, virus be damned.
  4. Zoom is NOT the panacea. I am deeply grateful for the variety of Zumba and exercise classes being taught online. The talented and spirited Equinox instructors teaching from their homes have helped me stay fit and sane during these dreary and emotionally disconnected times. The weekdays and weekends are interchangeable and blur together, but not the mornings–thanks to Carolann, Francesca, Jose and Wilber.
  5. EPIC Players’ online preview of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was an impressive and welcome distraction on Mother’s Day. The downside was that I realized how deeply I missed live theater and ALL live human interaction.
  6. Mother’s Day could not help but be disappointing. Elderly moms like mine were completely alone. Some divorced or widowed friends with grown kids were also alone. The rest of us enjoyed the usual togetherness with family, but without the pleasure of going out to celebrate.
  7. Following a recipe, Samantha and I learned to make curried chicken salad out of boring, leftover chicken and it was delicious. Meal prep is NOT my forte, so our curry collaboration was a first for both of us and a chance to learn another life skill.
  8. As New Yorkers continue to indulge in competitive hoarding, supermarket shelves are STILL missing paper goods and cleaning supplies. While not a tragedy, dinner napkins and individual cans of water-packed tuna are not to be found. Sure, I can use lunch napkins or paper towels, but no Bumble Bee or Starkist for a MONTH?
  9. Grocery shoppers command more space for themselves and their grocery carts. Some have been known to block an entire supermarket aisle with their carts in order to prevent anyone else from shopping in “their space” until they finish making their selections.
  10. No matter how I streamline household cleaning and share tasks with Samantha, my back always hurts on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  11. I notice dirt and dust in my house as never before, and can’t stop thinking about what germs may be hiding on a doorknob or light switch that I forgot to wipe. How long ago did I disinfect my cell phone and computer?
  12. After wearing sneakers for two months, and then putting on a pair of previously comfortable shoes to walk in Central Park, I ended up with painful blisters on both heels.
  13. Meeting up with a few friends and their kids on the Great Lawn—with 6 feet of space between us—made me realize how badly I need my life to be in three dimensions, instead of two.
  14. Life can and will go on. The question of how and when has become maddeningly elusive.
  15. Very little attention has been devoted to the psychological stress and depression of healthy people who have been forced to shut down their careers and give up most forms of release and entertainment. How long can we all go on in a state of suspended lives?
  16. My hair couldn’t wait any longer. I’m proud to report that I successfully touched up my gray roots with Clairol’s auburn “root touch up” for $6.99! The color is perfect and I don’t look like Bozo the clown. No more gray for a whole three weeks!
  17. Children need to go back to being children. They need to learn in classrooms, breathe fresh air, and have the space to play outside with friends.
  18. Parents need to go back to work and be parents instead of teachers. Moms and dads also need restorative down time as individuals and couples.
  19. Whenever I go out, I find myself stopping—or slowing down—to admire the flowers planted around trees. There are gorgeous tulips opening up everywhere in vivid reds, yellows and purples. Spring will not be defeated by the coronavirus.
  20. Without all the traffic and honking horns, I can hear birds singing on East 73rd. Who knew?
  21. Samantha now has the time AND the desire to spend more hours writing her one woman show with me. Our collaboration has greatly expanded her vocabulary as well as her understanding of the differences between writing a formal essay and a script.
  22. My daughter now takes the initiative to clean up and help out without my asking.
  23. She is very concerned and curious about the coronavirus. For the first time in her life Samantha is reading news blurbs on her phone.
  24. In a recent EPIC online class, my daughter learned about magic and how it applies to Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  25. With all the time on our hands, my husband and I have been able to greatly expand Samantha’s vocabulary.  Thanks to Covid 19, Samantha has learned many new words including: pandemic, epidemic, nepotism, narcissist, oasis and plague. Turns out I’m pretty adept at home schooling.
  26. A sense of humor is vital to family survival (and just as essential as Lysol and cleaning products). Samantha sometimes mangles the clichés and catchphrases that she loves using in comical ways.  In Keep the Change, her character Sarah (as well as the real Samantha) describes a delicious meal as “to die from” (instead of for). Her latest endearing gaffe?  Instead of saying “that ship has sailed,” Samantha remembered it as “that ship has sank.”  We must have been talking about containing the coronavirus.

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