My dog is currently snoozing at my feet, in a direct line from the tiny space heater I have been running for… what feels like years. I just had some macaroni and cheese from the box, complete with barbeque jackfruit on top. It’s full comfort mode over here, folks, and I am leaning into it.
I was confusingly on the brink of tears most of Wednesday. I was running through possible reasons in my head: was it the full moon a few days before? A heartwarming commercial? Did I not sleep enough the night before? It wasn’t until the early evening that I realized that my body was remembering, even though my mind was not.
March 8, 2020 is the last normal day I have in memory. This time three years ago, I was starting lockdown because of this thing called the coronavirus. It wasn’t yet time for sourdough starters, celebrity videos from home, or Tiger King. Most of us were going to hang tight for two weeks until we rode this thing out. Those who weren’t lucky enough to stay home and stay safe put their lives on the line to stock shelves full of groceries or administer healthcare. Parents were processing their own feelings and those of their children at the same time. Folks in unsafe housing were locked into terrifying situations.
We seek comfort in so many ways. The ways in which we seek comfort can be harmful and destructive, or healing and life-affirming. What I find most truthful is this: when the world is in chaos, it is often both seemingly impossible and of the utmost importance that we are gentle with ourselves. We lived through something that we don’t even yet understand. We lost millions of people. Our bodies understand even when we don’t.
I hope that you can seek things that are comforting to you this weekend. Maybe it’s one of the ways suggested below. Maybe it’s in a box of new crayons, being cuddled by a pet, a walk outside. Be gentle with yourself, friend. Life is hard enough.
Eat: I am a big fan of freezing food. Produce that’s on the brink of going bad and unused? Freezer. Extra cut fruit? Freezer. Homemade pasta sauce made from summer produce? Freezer. I have a lot there – and the games of Tetris where the mason jars fight the cardboard boxes and bags get really old, really quick. Enter a solution I once learned from Nadiya Hussain, of Great British Bake Off fame. Freeze things in a freezer bag on a cookie sheet. This allows the contents to settle so when it’s ready to store, it will store as close to flat as possible. Take it to the next level by freezing tomato paste and other liquids in portions, as described here. Less food waste? Always a good thing.
See: Listening to one of my favorite podcasts, You Are Good, I was reminded of the genius that is captured in two movies: Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. I am thrilled to remind you that those movies are not only a joy, but they are also available to stream on Disney+. Let’s talk about the casts. In the first movie, we focus on a lounge singer enrolled in witness protection as Sister Mary Clarence, a nun in a convent. (What can go wrong?) Whoopi Goldberg. Maggie Smith. Kathy Najimy. Mary Wickes, film legend. Then there is the sequel, which features all of the above PLUS Lauryn Hill and Sheryl Lee Ralph. Why aren’t you grabbing your remote yet? You’ll be singing Ode to Joy once you do.
Do: True story and confession time. I bought my first car after moving back to New Jersey from New York City, where I got my master’s degree. I never had a car before, and I’d never cared for one either. I got an alert on the dashboard that one of my tires needed air. Okay, cool, I thought. No problem. I can do that! I pulled into a gas station and just… went around putting air in all four of my tires. This was a basic model Honda Civic, so I had no way of telling which tire it was, but eventually, the warning went away, and I drove off. Later, in recapping this to my parents, my dad was floored that I hadn’t checked the pressure. He went and found that one of my tires was off-the-charts full of air. How was I to know? I’d never gotten a car care course or series of lessons.
This is a long-winded way to say: I am over-filling my tires every day, metaphorically speaking. I have multiple friends who have purchased homes, and even though they’ve walked me through it each time, I’m *still* unclear about how the heck it works. In my own life, there are things I just don’t know how to do, some things that even google makes complicated, and others I’m just too embarrassed to admit I do not know how to do. Enter: instagram and tiktok parents. There are so many good ones. Nick Cho, @YourKoreanDad, recently posted a POV where he teaches how to fix a flat tire. He has posted others where he reminds you to compost your Christmas tree and how to make a campfire.
Another account, @YourProudDad, does point-of-view videos where he sets up dinner for both of you and asks about your day; he recently did a video demonstrating how to shave. There’s also Rob Kenney, who is the voice behind “Dad, How Do I?” His YouTube channel is home to cooking tutorials, household task explanations, and dad jokes. There’s also Diane Shiffer, @ShifferDiane, who may not do full tutorials, but whose wisdom and gentle nature make me feel comforted.
I hope you have a peak-freshness, hallelujah, parent figure kind of weekend.