Missouri and Michigan are not the same. First of all, pretty much all of the lakes here are man-made resevoirs while Michigan is surrounded with water. Secondly, we have far fewer storms in our neck of Michigan than they have here in the Kansas City area. We’ve gotten to experience a few small ones this week. Third, they are beginning to re-open after the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down much of the country.
We knew coming here that the area was completely different when it comes to opening up. While Michigan is still on a stay-at-home order until June 12, my husband dined-in a restaurant here in Missouri today.
Where it all started
When the pandemic began, it was a Wednesday night. I know this because I recently did a Crosstalk devotion about it for my church. I was up a little later that night, watching TV after a long day of two jobs and my husband working–in Missouri. The governor of Michigan came on TV and explained that there were two cases in our state, in fact, in neighboring counties.
As I describe in the devotion, I got up to let the dog out and my thoughts as I opened the door will never escape me. The air was brisk. Even though cars were driving down the street, I wondered if they knew that “it” was “here.” I quickly let the thought fly away and instead thought “this is the snow storm that will never come.”
Boy was I wrong. By 11 p.m. the next night, while I was putting the final touches on my communication about how we planned to keep our congregation members safe the church I work for, the governor came on to announce that K-12 schools were to close. What? None of this was computing in my brain.
Telling the kids
The next morning, the kids woke up and my middle daughter was complaining. I said, “Girls, I have to tell you something…”
I knew they were going to go to school the next day and hear about it and I needed to tell them what was going on, not to be scared, and answer any questions. And I had to do it alone because my husband was still in Missouri, and I had to do it quickly because we had to be to school early for a staff meeting.
“So, there is a virus. It’s making lots and lots of people sick. No one we know is sick right now. But you’re not going to be going to school for a few weeks. it’s just our way of keeping you safe. The government has decided to close schools to slow the spread. Please bring anything home that you think you will need over the next few weeks. I’ll go in with you today and Dad will pick you up. He’s driving home from Missouri today to avoid the germs of the plane.”
At least that was the gist of it. I asked if they had any questions–and they had a few. My anxiety-ridden self stayed incredibly calm. I even stayed calm during morning announcements as I ran tech for the online stream when the principal said the words out loud to the kids, and I knew it would be a lot more real to them.
We sort of let the weekend go. We talked about it a little bit, we reminded them we were safe, but we took the stance that this would blow over and we would be fine.
As the days turned into weeks and we talked about wearing masks outside of the house and not going anywhere unless we really, really have to. But we still played outside. And went for walks. And dropped off birthday gifts and had birthday parades.
Honestly, my kids were loving it.
I mean, they hated home-school, but who didn’t?
Heading into new territory
We left for Missouri the day after school got out. We knew it would be looser here than home. I brought masks and hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes and disinfectant spray. While I’m not fearful, I’m also not reckless.
But we have to get out. We have to start going places and spending money and being safe, but not being afraid.
Today, I took the kids out. My oldest daughter indicated that it was the first time she’s been in a store in months. They wore masks. She hated it. But we did it.
We went to a mall to go to a Crayola store. More on that later. But the only way we were going to make this venture was if I went into with confidence and didn’t let them think that we needed to fear living our lives.
They need to see that from their parents. My husband gets up every day, dons a mask AND face shield, and confidently goes to work.
Sure, today was uncomfortable for them as they adjusted to masks and not touching things. But we did it. We had fun. And now we can get into the business of seeing this way of life through and preparing what the fall might look like and how we’ll live in the face of a resurance.
Lead by example. Even if you are terrifed. Even if you aren’t. They are watching.