Michelle Martin

Lessons learned

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Entering the fourth week of work and school at home, we’ve learned some things.

It’s hard to keep the dining room table neat (or to keep the tabletop visible) when it is serving as a home office for two adults and a classroom for a fourth grader.

Keeping said fourth grader engaged in her schoolwork is often more difficult than the work itself. And doing dances learned from internet memes counts as phys ed, right?

Keeping to a regular schedule has become more difficult. Even the dog is sleeping in, since we are inconsiderately disrupting her daytime nap schedule by being home, and getting up is harder when we have to push her off her bed instead of the other way around.

On the other hand, Teresa and I have been enjoying long, midafternoon walks with the dog almost every day.

Five people confined to one house all day long (dog walks excepted) means we go through a lot of food and are washing a lot of dishes.

With all of us working or taking classes from home, Wi-Fi bandwith is an issue.

Board games and jigsaw puzzles do not require Wi-Fi.

Daily and Sunday Masses watched online do, but they are well worth it.

As I wrote this, we are just entering Holy Week. For Palm Sunday, we were able to find a couple of dried-out palms from last year (The year before? Who knows for sure?), already folded into crosses. We held them in the living room while we streamed Cardinal Cupich’s Mass from a laptop onto the TV.

The dog was confused by our sitting and standing and kneeling, but took the opportunity to bring her ball from person to person, ready to play.

As we head into a week without the chrism Mass, without the public celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday liturgy, even the Easter Vigil, we are in uncharted waters indeed.

I remember the words of Pope Francis during his extraordinary “urbi et orbi” message on March 27, when he talked about the choices we face. It is a time, he said, when we must “choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”

In our house, we are fortunate to still be working and going to school and to have the technology to do so. But we are more fortunate to be stuck at home together, rather than alone.

We’re missing many things this spring, from Mass to Teresa’s elementary school choir performance to Caroline’s college graduation. But we have so much more to be grateful for.

That includes all the essential workers, from doctors, nurses and hospital cleaning staff to mail carriers and other delivery people.


  • family life
  • coronavirus