Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
Every morning I wake up and reach for my phone for my morning intake of social media. I open Facebook, then Instagram, then my email and finish off with a quick jaunt through Timehop. A few weeks back, I stared at my post from February 2020 and realized we were at a theater seeing Stomp. Looking at our family enjoying all that indoor time with lots of other families seems mind-blowing now. This is what I call the “before time” of 2020. In a few short weeks, my archive of posts will change from the places we went to all of the ways we managed to stay in.
We have adapted to live alongside Covid-19 for a little over a year now. We learned how to manage crisis school and summer with no camps. We bought desks and rearranged rooms to make fall’s distance learning 2.0 go more successful. We now have favorite masks and eventually created a pretty sizable collection of hand sanitizers. Our bedroom is now also my husband’s office and we do our best to not practice piano too loud during conference calls. Eventually, our kids returned to face-to-face school with plenty of new safety measures in place, but we have no clue when my husband will set foot inside his downtown office building again.
For the most part, everyone seems okay with their new routines. Everyone, but me that is. In the new Covid-era world, many of the tasks and projects that filled up my days are simply gone. I am a gig writer without any gigs to write about. There are no more inside-school volunteer opportunities or field trips. My gym closed and that is one of the last places I want to be in this moment in time. I still have to run errands, but we do as much as we can online now, which means I am not driving all over the city to accomplish tasks. When I do go out, I try to make it quick, snappy and efficient. I don’t meet friends or family for coffee or lunch anymore. We no longer have afterschool activities and the ones we did keep are now virtual. When I am home doing things around the house, I am never alone and always cognizant of my husband working in the other room.
Before you go all “poor you with nothing to do” on me, hear me out. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, much of my own self-identity is built around many of these tasks. It may seem trivial, but through these activities, I found a sense of purpose and was comfortable with my role in our family and community. Now, these cornerstones of my day-to-day have vanished.
So what? The whole world is dealing with the loss of what used to be normal. Not everyone can send their kids back to school and many people are struggling to stay employed. You want me to feel sorry for you that you can’t volunteer anymore?
I know. It sounds completely privileged and ridiculous, but I also know I am not alone. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have had several conversations with fellow moms who are feeling much like I am. At first, I was so grateful that I had the flexibility to drop everything to manage distance learning. Then, after we decided to send our kids back to face-to-face school, I spent the first few weeks holding my breath that we had made the right choice and it was not going to lead to a massive community Covid outbreak. Even with the kids at school, I am adjusting to my husband being home 24/7 alongside me and without my old long list of “to-dos,” trying not to feel like he is giving me the side-eye when I watch Netflix and fold laundry. Yeah, I know I burned through that series in one day, but didn’t you see that I was multitasking while I did it? I am also always on alert for the call from school that one of our children needs to switch over to virtual while we wait out a quarantine for a presumed positive classmate.
As I navigate this new world order, I know it is impossible for me to return to my old routines. They no longer exist and will not be coming back for the foreseeable future. Once I was able to get a tiny bit of distance, I learned, not everything I used to do holds the value to me that it once did. There were certainly many tasks that were mostly busy work and this time away from them has given me the space to examine how I want to spend my time, because “the before” was certainly not all worthwhile or worth romanticizing.
Though there are also some things that remain the same, pandemic or not. The morning hustle will always be a struggle and the time period between when school ends till bedtime is still requires the focus of a marathoner. As for the rest? I feel like I have been giving another chance to decide what I want to be when I grow up. What is actually serving a deeper purpose and what is just noise? What relationships have grown and where has the space been a good thing? What was I doing just to feel busy and productive and what did I actually enjoy? Aren’t we closer as a family without all of these distractions? Do you really think adding “more” is the best thing?
I don’t really have answers to these questions, but I am challenging myself to ask them anyway. I refuse to move forward into the unknown of 2021 without taking some of the 2020 perspectives. Because if 2020 taught us anything, it is to know that nothing is to be taken for granted and what you decide to do with your resources can have power and meaning.
Main image: Adobe Stock/Flamingo Images
Originally posted on Mommy Nearest