What a strange time we are living in right now. This will be one of those times in all of our lives that we will all look back on as humanity and remember. This will be one of those times that unites us as citizens of the world. It will probably be one of those events that we base timelines off of in our mind asking, “Was that before or after COVID?”

For me, it has been interesting to see (from afar and via Facebook) how everyone is responding to the “shelter in place” and to the pandemic. For me, this time has been a dream come true! I am loving everything about our “Coronacation!” I think my three favorite things about it are:

  1. The unbelievable and unexpected time I am getting to spend with my family.
  2. The unique and creative ways I am seeing humanity come together.
  3. The pace of shelter in place.

This time I am getting to spend with my family may go down as the highlight of my life when I look back. I have five children, two of my kids are in college and I live seven hours away from my parents. But right now, I am sheltered in place with my parents (at Kamp, how lucky am I?), my five kids AND two extras – my oldest two kids have their significant others sheltered in place with us.  Are you kidding me?!?! There would not ever be another time when I would get to spend this much time with my kids at these ages. There would never be another time that we would all get to be “stuck” in the same house with my parents (their grandparents). And when do parents get to spend this much time with their college-age kids’ boyfriends/girlfriends? What a gift I’ve been given. What a treasure this time has been! We are having meals together and doing family game night nearly every night. We are laughing. We are talking. We are dreaming.  We are getting to ride 4-wheelers and go on hikes and play in the Party Barn. I literally feel like the luckiest mom in the world right now!

I love seeing the unique and creative ways humanity is coming together! I love all of the concerts from home. I love watching the talk shows happen with kid-made graphics and FaceTime interviews. I saw the entire original cast of Hamilton perform via FaceTime for a 9-year-old girl’s birthday, and it was AMAZING! I am loving seeing people just be human and get back to the basics. I am loving how people are loving their neighbors during this time. My cousin posted something on her Facebook about feeling cooped up with her kids and in need of toilet paper. One of her friends said, “check your front porch,” and there was a roll of toilet paper with a sweet note. I’ve seen the neatest videos of people being humans and serving one another. I intentionally stay away from the fear-inspired media and things like that, so I admit that I have on my rose-colored glasses, but I am loving seeing the best come out in humanity during this time and the feeling that we are all one and we are all together in this crisis. I love seeing the drive-by birthday parades and the creative ways we are trying to make this time better for the people we love!

And lastly (but surely not least), I am loving the pace of this shelter in place. As a single mother of five, life can get so hectic. My typical day involves me putting at least 70 miles on my Suburban between school and activities.  Life is typically chaotic from the time the alarm goes off in the morning until I fall into my bed at night. This time of shelter in place has been dreamy. There is nowhere to go and no activities to get my kids to. We get up feeling rested. We do school and work for a while during the day. If it is true that what we spend our time doing is a perfect picture of where our priorities lie, then we are finally getting it right!  We are spending a healthy amount of time at school and working from home and we are balancing that with getting out with the dogs and eating meals together and planning creative ways to enjoy our moments. I am loving this pace. The kids and I lived in Africa for five weeks a few summers ago and I love the pace of many African cultures. This reminds me of that, and I am loving it! I think coming out of shelter in place and back to “real” life is going to be so hard for me.

Maybe I have on rose-colored glasses. Maybe my head is in the sand. I do realize that what is going on in the world is serious and I realize that it can be scary. Please don’t get me wrong, I understand all of that. But, during this time, I do feel like I am having the most treasured vacation of my lifetime. I am loving this time with my family that I will never be able to replace. I am enjoying watching humanity at its best. And I am soaking up this pace. I am so thankful for my Coronacation!

Jamie Jo Braner, Director of Alumni Engagement