This is just about the time when folks start getting soft.

I was up with the crows this morning and got so much accomplished.

I took out the trash (odd for someone who lives with five men … yes, such stereotyping will obviously continue), washed some dishes, organized some bills, finished up some lingering work. Then I ventured outside—I know, it was supposed to the day to stay in—because one of my younger sons wanted broccolini with dinner, and if an 11-year-old tells you that, you stop what you’re doing and jog to the store to get some.

Turns out that the organic store up the street didn’t have any, so Persian cucumbers will have to suffice. There were few people inside; it was early, and at this point, everyone seems to be heeding the call for distancing.

When I got home, no one was up. That’s right, the whole house was sound asleep.

Soft, I tell you.

I woke the husband and the kid who had online class in an hour, and went back to my desk in the basement. Fortunately, I sit underneath a window (and more than once have had to yell at squirrels looking in to go away). Not so fortunately: my ear buds, the only pair I have (I came late to the world of ear buds) aren’t functioning on one side.

In all the talk of hoarding hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes and paper products, I have not heard a word about headphones and ear buds. They really are a “must have” for any parent working from home.

So one ear is muted and the other interspersed with sounds coming from Minecraft, a kid’s YouTube art show and a class of 11th-graders discussing Tanach (that’s rather interesting, which doesn’t help matters).

I am trying so hard to keep my sense of humor.

After all, the latter was a prerequisite for marriage. My rabbi told us we will forever need to do two things: keep laughing to hold fast to one another. He didn’t exactly say “hold on.” He said “hold fast.”

There are two relevant definitions to that: “to remain tightly secured” and “to continue to believe in or adhere to an idea or principle.”

I guess we’re fairly secured. And I definitely believe in the idea of marriage; after all, I am going on 25 years this fall.

But it leads me to think of something else, a common saying in Judaism: “It’s a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it.”

The Etz Chaim, or “Tree of Life,” has been said to symbolize many things: immortality, divinity, humankind, the soul. All of which have direct relevance to what we’re going through now with this global virus. It’s making us think, prompting the re-evaluation of practically everything right now.

What it’s really doing is saying, “Wake up, wake up!” Look to the here and now! Take it all in!

Now I just have to find that old sports-game bullhorn in the attic so I can greet my family with those very words at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

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