It has been difficult for me to stay on top of the many self-directed projects that I’ve started since the quarantine began.  I planned to write a new article for this section every week, for example, but my last one was in April.  I’ve been having a good deal of fun going on bike rides with my son and those rides have the added benefit of helping me get in shape.  It’s been a long and nurturing vacation for me, but it’s slightly derailed my career, as it has for many others.  It’s clear that it’ll be years before everything is back to normal.

However, almost anything can be fixed with a little hard work and organization, right?  On Saturday evening, I decided that the vacation had gone on for too long; so I sat down and planned out my next month.  My wife and I are expecting a new baby in September, so this seemed like a good time to get caught up before making the permanent move to the unknown continent of double parenthood.  

It took me about 90 mins to make a very comprehensive and achievable list. One item was to write an article about how this technique has worked for me in the past when I’ve been overwhelmed and how it always makes me feel instantly more organized and together.  Just write it all down and check it off one by one.

After I finished my list, I went upstairs to the bedroom and I was surprised to find that my wife wasn’t in bed.  She was standing and talking on the phone.

“I think my water broke and we should go to the hospital.” She told me.

Allison is 33 weeks pregnant and this would be a premature birth but well within the window of safety for baby and mama but It’s still terrifying.  This happened at about midnight and I had to send her to the hospital alone.  Someone had to be home with our sleeping 18-month-old and he’s not allowed in the hospital because of the quarantine.  Luckily, we have a good friend who happened to still be awake and didn’t mind making a midnight trip across town.  I was able to join my wife at around 3am.

The doctor said that Allison’s water did break and she is not leaving the hospital without giving birth.  Ideally though, the baby would wait one more week… So she’ll be in the hospital for at least 1 week and probably more.  The new baby will likely be in the ICU until mid-August.  It’s a pandemic, so I’m the only one who’s allowed to visit Allison.  No friends, no mom, no 18 month old son, just me.

So now, my 1 month to do list looks like this:

  1. Are my wife and child going to be OK?
  2. Are my wife and child going to be OK?
  3. Are my wife and child going to be OK?

It’s hard to imagine a time when I was able to focus on anything else. 

As a freelancer, I can’t just take time off.  Everyone understands that I may be slow to get back to them in a family emergency in the middle of a global pandemic, but I’m my own boss.  If I don’t hustle, there’s no work.

So while I’m by my wife’s side, I feel like I’m not taking care of my family because I’m not working and earning money, but when I’m working hard and checking things off things off my list, I also feel like I’m not taking care of my family because I’m not present for them.

I don’t know what the solution is, or if there even is a solution.  The trouble with COVID-19 is that it’s hard to draw any lessons from such a unique experience. It’s hard to learn anything when all you can do is sit and wait.  My list for this month is shot, but I’m going focus on making sure my wife and baby are OK.  

Anything else can be fixed with a little hard work and organization.