My business is closed and I have no childcare: what it’s really like

  • by

Mid-February, I text my brother-in-law asking him if I should cancel a planned trip to Hawaii. My husband and I were due to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary, and we’d planned to take the kids to Oahu. We haven’t been on a proper vacation in three years. It was going to be a big deal.

My brother-in-law, an infectious disease MD, replied, “Don’t do anything until a lot closer. By then, either this will fizzle out, or there won’t be a plane flying.”

Looking back, I now realize how lightly I took that warning. I thought it was a far reaching “what if,” not at all likely, so much so that I just put my phone away and went about my day.

Each week since, I called him to ask, “What should I be doing? Should I take Hollis to school? Should I host yoga classes?”

He always said the same thing. As long as school was open, I may as well take my kids. The whole point of closing schools would be to – as we all know today – flatten the curve. Me holding my kids out of school wouldn’t help. Me closing my single yoga studio wouldn’t help. But, if there was a large social buy-in, then I should buy the F in.

So I did. As soon as I caught whiff of a business closure, I bought the F in. I hung the damn “CLOSED” sign, and here we are toady.

The Bad

The bad is, clearly, my business is closed. I don’t know when I’ll reopen, and I don’t know if I’ll have the money to wait it out. I don’t know if people will want to come back once I do reopen. If they decide they want to, I don’t know if they’ll have the money to afford it. I don’t know if my teachers will have the money they need in between now and then. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it to them.

I’m working every night after my kids are asleep in order to try to get the money to pay my teachers and assure we reopen in the future. It’s tacky to talk about that here. We, as a business, shouldn’t tell our students about our financial position. But our students know. You know because I’m telling you the exact same story that’s being told by every small business, everywhere, and truly by every household, everywhere. This is just what it is like.

It’s exhausting as F to buy the F in.

In the course of two weeks, I’ve redesigned my website, built a virtual streaming platform, set up a filming set in the studio only to break it down and set it up again at home (SAFER AT HOME, people!), posted approximately 45 times to Instagram and Facebook trying to get the word out, sent 32 newsletters, contacted every single member, and … well, you get it.

And I’ve done it while caring for my two-year-old and seven-month-old full time.

Which brings me to:

The Good

I love being home with my kids. Spending the long, lonely days with them is not at all lonely to me. I get my husband home, even when he’s working as hard (or harder) than I am during the day. He’s there, a room away, and the kids are in my arms. They are happy. Truly, this isn’t that different from our normal routine. We spend most of our time most of our days together. Usually, I have part-time childcare to help me do the work of running the studio. I don’t right now, and I’m realizing that’s absolutely okay.

My team is more united than we ever were when we could actually unite. Being distanced has made us realize the value of closeness, and we are all making the effort to support one another more. Hell, we don’t have much else going on.

I am scrappy as all F. Looking back, I can’t believe I’ve found a way to do this. Who knows what I will find a way to do next. I’m not alone, either. Every small business owner you know is pulling all the strings. I’m in awe of my colleagues in the fitness space, in love with the entrepreneurial spirit, and inspired by the way humans can adapt and thrive in all types of circumstances.

These circumstances create a huge number of opportunities. We buy our earthquake supplies from a company now operating with a 3-month-back order on every item. We buy our meat from a ranch supplier who has quadrupled their inventory. But, the biggest opportunity I see is this: we get a chance to genuinely serve others. We are being called on to live a little leaner than we are used to. We’ve decided to continue to pay for memberships and services we cannot enjoy right now. We’ve decided to forego some income in order to ensure others can sustain theirs. I’m not saying this for kudos; I’m saying it because it brings me joy. How lucky am I to be in a position to serve?

The Yet to Be

This post will be rewritten many times over. The world has changed in unthinkable ways in two weeks, and it will do so again in another two. Someone I know will get sick. That person may or may not be in a position to recover. I may not be able to make that rent payment. I may not be able to pay my staff enough to make this work. I waiver between conviction in what I’m doing and ambivalence to the effort, at times feeling like the battle is already lost, at times having the deepest faith in human ingenuity.

In October of 2019, I heard a little voice telling me it was time to make a new life. I told Reid there would be no further discussion on the topic.

In December of 2019, that little voice told me her name would be “Hope.” I told Reid there would be no further discussion on the topic.

“Hollis Elizabeth” was a name we chose five years before our daughter’s conception, choosing it for the way it honored our past. She is named after Reid’s paternal-great-grandfather and my maternal-great-grandmother. She represents all that came before her in order to bring her spark into the world. This child is a well of complexity.

“Hope Sophia” was chosen the day she whispered to me. Her name represents all that is to come. She is the smiley-est, purest child, and her good nature is infectious. This child is the embodiment of her name; I couldn’t have picked better had I chosen it myself, which I guess is why she didn’t let me.

Between a treasured past and this promise of a better tomorrow, we have today. Today is okay.

Today, I have two little smiles reminding me of the value of presence. What is bad is still not catastrophic.* What is good is awe-inspiring. What is yet to be is yet to be. I will have to be okay with that for now.

*I recognize the catastrophic nature of this situation for many. I, like you, live with the too-big-to-swallow fear and pain of large-scale suffering. For now, for me, where I sit in my corner, the suffering is largely still yet-to-be. It may come, it may not. If it has visited your house, I see you, and I wish you peace.