This period in my life has been full of contradictions. Privately, this has been a wonderful period for my family. My sons are both great. Grey is entering that fun conversational stage, where he starts being useful and asking interesting questions. Thane has, for his short life, been a ray of sunshine. My husband and I are both healthy and employed. We are surrounded by a network of people and have opportunities to do fun and interesting things. (For example, due to surprise babysitting this weekend we got to go see “A Winter’s Tale” on Friday!) Last night we spent at our neighbors house watching our kids play together and sampling the takeout from the new restaurant in town. Frankly, our life is about as good as it could be within the parameters of how things are set up.

But outside the walls of our house and family it is a scary — terrifying — world. For months people have been losing their jobs. I’ve come to dread Fridays as the days when I hear from my friends that they have had layoffs in their company, pay cuts, hours cut, or they have lost their jobs. The drumbeat of climate change hasn’t disappeared. The financial stability of the world is undergoing convulsions. It feels like we’re in the middle of an earthquake and none of us know when the shaking will stop or what the topography will be when it’s done. We also aren’t sure if or when we’ll get knocked in the noggin by falling bricks. Not only that, but this was a very bad weekend for people I love. My brother-in-law shattered his femur (not easy to do) taking roller skating lessons. As in titanium pin, in surgery for hours, will be in rehab for months shattered. Then I heard that a dear and beloved friend from college’s daughter was born this week … and it isn’t all ok. He used the word “life support”. She is in respiratory distress and that sounds terrifying and up in the air and all I can do is pray for them.

And then this Swine Flu thing pops up. I have to admit, flu pandemics are one of my personal nightmares. Everything I’ve learned about the 1916 pandemic scares the skivvies off me. It was worse than WWI, in terms of fatalities. It mostly affected people my age. You could go from fine to dead in like 12 hours. Usually I talk myself out of panic attacks using reason and preparation. Reason isn’t helping me here, and preparation would pretty much require that I hunker down at home with my family and bathe in hand sanitizer.

So today I pulled my boys out of daycare and took them home because of the flu thing. Seriously. For real. I’m writing this during naptime at home.

As I walked in the door at daycare with my boys, I heard Pablito’s voice. As I drove in to work, I thought “Wait a minute. Didn’t Pablito spend last week (Spring Break week) in Mexico on vacation?” I got to work and read about 8 articles on the flu. I finally buckled and explained the situation to my manager and LEFT. I got to daycare and attempted to explain in Spanish that I was having a panic attack over the flu issue and the fact that they’d just flown home from Mexico and I was taking my boys for today and probably tomorrow and to please call me if she heard that anyone was sick. I wiped Grey’s hands and toys with an alcohol swipe. I stopped by Target on my way home and bought baby food, bread, milk and hand sanitizer. I stopped at Starbucks to make sure we had an adequate supply of true necessities. (One pound Sumatra, ground for a flat bottom drip.)

I think this might qualify me as a bona fide loony. But if I hadn’t done that I’d be sitting at work feeling sick to my stomach about whether my sons were contracting fatal diseases while I added a “run now” button.

But then I look out my window and it’s like 70 degrees and gorgeous. Tomorrow is supposed to be 90, and you can’t catch the flu by getting out the inflatable pool and sitting in the back yard drinking Mike’s. It’s a beautiful world and I have a beautiful family and Ellsbury stole home last night and I continue to enjoy myself.

What a strange time in the world!

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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