It is incredibly eerie to walk into an empty Bed and Breakfast that once bustled with out of town guests, rolling suitcases and crackling fires. It is a strange feeling to have this huge place all to ourselves. Luckily it is April and typically we would be spending this down time entertaining friends and a small portion of guests. But we can’t see anyone because of social distancing. We also can’t afford to keep this whole lodge heated and buzzing with the warm glow of western-inspired light fixtures. Only so often do we have our kitchen ovens roaring with fresh pastries or cookies. Since we are closed for business until we know when travel will begin again, it is hard to know when our ship will hoist the anchor and start sailing again.
We have had a few special nights spent as a family cooking and dining in the lodge, pretending that life as we knew it isn’t being over shadowed by Covid-19. One chilly afternoon my seven year old Dylan and I enjoyed a delicious mug of hot cocoa covered in huge marshmallows while relaxing in the hot tub. Another evening we built a small outdoor fire pit where we cozied up next to and shared spooky ghost stories with the kids. The kids have built bike jumps and held nerf gun wars. We have kept ourselves busy with fun because we have two young boys and there is no other option. During these incredibly special moments, we feel so very lucky. It has been such a striking contrast to the days of booking reservations, prepping for breakfast the next day and managing staff.
Times like these are teaching us to adapt, to go with the flow. Each day looks a little different from the life we had before Coronavirus. There is more opportunity to spend time with each other as a family. And there is little time left to spend alone or with anyone outside our little group. We have to work much harder as a team to not argue or to get the space we need to feel respected. We have to be nicer and more loving towards each other, remembering not to let the bad moments get the best of us. We have realized that our health is beyond the most important thing. Because without our health there really is nothing left.
We have also learned that we must live with purpose each day even when we don’t have to. It doesn’t have to be tightly scheduled, but with two young boys, it is essential to have some consistency and routine. As parents, Ryan and I need to maintain a tremendous amount energy both physically and mentally to keep balance within the family dynamic. We have to exercise regularly. Something prior to that I have been neglecting to do for myself since Caleb my three year old was born.
How lucky am I to spend meaningful hours with my personal trainer husband who is by all accounts the most genius human on this planet. I guess what I mean by that is when it comes to your body he really knows his stuff. Something I always knew but wasn’t able to be reminded of regularly. Life is so cluttered with to-do’s, the needs from others and endless work. There is hardly any time left for me to see Ryan in action, doing what he loves and knows so well.
(If you are interested in learning more about Ryan Grenier’s Mobility, Flexibility and Strength Program, please check out his videos on our YouTube channel: Info Good Medicine Lodge)
We have to get good sleep, which is really hard when depression gets the best of me and my mind just starts stewing in all the possible scenarios we could find ourselves in. Thankfully Ryan lets me sleep in in the morning and I am able to rest enough to play and wrestle with the kids endlessly. Throwing a fifty pound three year old through the air all hours of the day takes some serious stamina. And right after Caleb’s turn, it’s Dylan’s turn who at age seven still wants the same maneuvers because it “just isn’t fair” if I don’t deliver the same enthusiasm for the both of them. I am learning how to store every little bit of energy to get me through because a typical day during Coronavirus just seems like three times longer than the one I had before. Social distancing is the modern marathon for parents. It just keeps on going with no rest in sight.
To pass the day, we play games, draw, watch movies and get outside. We are filling those precious minutes that we would normally spend “just finishing that last part of the project”, or for a “quick stop at the store for the missing ingredient”, or “ooh, there are still a few minutes before pick-up, so maybe I can bang out this one last task.” We have no where to hide from the tremendous job of parenting and must spend every minute with our kids giving them everything they need. They do not understand the immense pressure we are under. We are their world right now and it’s up to us to be as strong as possible to show them what living in panic and fear looks like. It’s a complete roller coaster of emotions and processing it in some way that comes out like any other normal moment is not easy.
Our seven year old treated us to a special dinner one evening. He created a special menu where we could order from custom ingredients for a salad, pasta with fresh made pesto and dessert. Tonight’s option for dessert was between a Good Medicine Lodge cookie or a gooey chocolaty S’more. Typically I would go for the cookie, but tonight the S’mores were especially tasty. A perfect blend of melted Ghiradelli peppermint chocolate and marshmallow with the love and smiles of a seven year old boy who dreams of spending a day like this with his parents.
It felt like date night, something my husband and I can admit we haven’t done in at least nine months. Ever since we committed to making the move across country to Montana from busy San Francisco.
We have been too busy running our small business and raising kids. We miss our days of rocking out at one of the many incredible Bay Area music venues. There are no more fancy meals for us at amazing restaurants with menus filled with words like little gem, escarole, bisque, tartare, endive and radicchio. But on this particular night, dressed cozy in slippers with a fire crackling, our beautifully prepared dinner inspired by our son is absolutely perfect. We have a fancy bottle of white wine open that is no doubt from some incredibly obscure French winemaker from a region that I cannot pronounce. The gold liquid I don’t deserve came from a childhood friend of Ryan’s. Justin Rutherford, of The Wine Club in downtown San Francisco, has sent us a few bottles recently and it the best gift someone in our situation can imagine. (Thank you Justin!)
We suck down every drop. And through our dwindling soberness, we know this is literally what life is all about. A beautiful evening with good food, great wine, our best playlist humming in the background while our busy and happy children take each other out Sumo-style. (Just please don’t break a bone, we cannot afford to go to the hospital in more ways than one.)
But there is this thing, this sound of silence we cannot escape. The looming thought of not knowing what lies ahead of us. It pulls at us while we sip from our wine glasses and watch our two young boys play like wild animals. What will our business look like in the coming months? What about our community? Our region? The nation? The world?
We are going on week five of social isolation. It is ironic that just a few weeks ago, we were learning the insider techniques to finding alone time outside of our B&B business. With all our interactions with the guests, our staff and our own family life, there aren’t many minutes left in a typical Innkeeper’s day to breathe and to spend time with just ourselves.
We struggled to find meaningful moments with our kids with just an hour here or there free to spend with them. To provide them with that undeniable attention they were so desperate for. These past few weeks have forced us to provide it and the rewards have paid us back in dividends. Caleb is talking in full sentences and says the most hilarious and insightful things. Dylan is receiving one on one attention from us with his homework and I am able to see first hand just how smart he is and where he might need some extra help. These are the moments I would be missing while my kids were at school. And the sad part, is that I would’ve justified missing those moments before Coronavirus, because I was just too busy to be able to allow them.
This is an insane time, one that will go down in history as such a huge moment. We don’t exactly know how this story will end, which is the frightening part.
Ryan and I have so many choices to make that can completely change the mood of the day or the perspective. We might not always have the strength to choose wisely every day but most days we choose love over fear, fun over harsh news and happiness over stress. And we are so lucky to have two amazing little boys who help force us to make those decisions. After all, it is for them that we must press on.