As I’m sitting here writing this at my kitchen table, my mother is on a phone call at the dining room table. My father is on the phone one room over from both of us. My sister is just down the hallway in her bedroom doing schoolwork.
I’ve been at home now for 35 days. For context, winter break was only 25 days. Last summer was 76 days. And I didn’t spend all of either of those breaks at my house. But now I’m at my house all day, every day. And so is the rest of my family. And our two dogs. We are all working from home.
My sister and I definitely miss our friends. I miss being in Tuscaloosa. I miss friends being at my apartment until early morning as we try to get all our assignments done; I miss going to food trucks with my friends between classes; I miss getting to spend the last month of the semester with my friends who are seniors. But this is the new normal and we all have to adjust to it.
In my family, we all have different schedules, and our house is always very busy. Early in the morning, my mom exercises at home. From 8:30 a.m. until about 2 p.m. Mom is teaching sixth and seventh grade English for The Montgomery Academy from our dining room. Then she has faculty meetings. If we walk into the kitchen to grab a drink, we will learn about pronouns or writing thesis statements.
For most of the normal workday, my father is drawing for Tippett Sease Baker Architecture. He works from the drafting table in the back corner of our living room.
He alternates between quietly drawing and attending meetings. Some of these meetings are via Zoom – in our playroom, where he has a more professional backdrop (an olive-green curtain) – and some are over the phone from his desk.
What I’m really saying here is that the front of our house is always loud.
Dad finishes each day between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. This really is not different from his schedule prior to our house turning into his office. He usually takes a break in the middle of the day to exercise.
Sadie, my younger sister, is a sophomore at The Montgomery Academy. She is in classes from 8:30 a.m. – 10:40 a.m. Then, after a break, she is in classes again from noon – 3 p.m. Sadie normally spends about two hours outside of class every day working on homework, so she is usually done by 5 p.m. After that, she has other meetings on Zoom in her room. My schedule is much less structured. I get up anywhere between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and usually start my work for the day no later than 10:30 a.m., but it varies from day to day. Some days I only meet via Zoom for one class; some days I get on Zoom upwards of five times for various classes, meetings and interviews.
I am studying news media at the University of Alabama. As my professors say, the news has not stopped, so neither have my assignments. My family frequently has to deal with me putting them in chairs around the house, adjusting the lighting in the room and then interviewing them for various news packages. They also have heard me yell, “Hey I’m interviewing someone back here. Can y’all be quiet in the hallway?” so I can write news stories from my bedroom.
My day ends anywhere between 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. It depends on what I have due that week. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are usually my busiest days.
We all try to have dinner together every night, but it does not always happen. At least once a week, I am in meetings from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. or later. Sometimes, my father wants to watch a soccer documentary in the living room while my mother wants to watch a Hallmark movie in the playroom.
Either way, we are already spending the whole day together. We don’t leave the house. Sadie and I don’t go to the barn to ride our horses. Mom doesn’t go to the grocery store – she uses Shipt. Dad doesn’t go to his friends’ houses to meet for his covenant group. (They meet over Zoom now.) So sometimes we need to spend time alone.
Most of our family time happens over the weekend.
Saturday is chore day. We clean the house and do yardwork. We all try to take Saturdays off from school and work. We have family dinner every Saturday, and we watch church together on Sunday mornings.
On Sunday afternoons, my mother usually works for hours at her computer planning for the coming week of classes. All of her lessons have to be posted online, so everything has to be recreated and changed from the way it was taught in live classes. I have deadlines for classes most Sunday nights, so I work on assignments every Sunday afternoon.
I only have one day of “normal” school left. If I were still on campus and attending class in-person, next week would be “Dead Week” at the University of Alabama. I would – and still do – have my finals the last week of April.
Our family schedule will change again once I am done for the semester. Sadie and my mother will still have the majority of May to spend in classes.
Most of the summer internship programs I applied for are suspended or canceled altogether, so it’s looking like I’ll be home all summer, too. I’ll have to find some way to stay busy once my classes are finished.
I’m hopeful I will be back in Tuscaloosa come August. I’ve liked being home, but I hope the main way I see my parents in the fall is at Alabama football games.
Until then, I’m going to keep social distancing; Nick Saban told us we should.