Yes, the pandemic is a pain. Life has changed and things are way more complicated now. Going to the grocery store is taking your life in your hands. Every time someone coughs or sneezes around me, I tense up. I instantly see that graphic of how far Covid-19 droplets fly in all directions. I can’t hug my grandchildren or my grown children. Forget having someone else cook dinner for me. And working from home is losing its novelty. Somedays, I feel like a trapped animal.
But I’m also finding that there is some good that is coming out of this.
My husband and I met each other 24 years ago. I had three small children, Bryce, Carly and Blake, as well as a dog named Abby and a cat named Carl. He had three boys, Jerremy, Chris and Spencer, and a dog named Kona and a cat named Nikki. It was a lot.
For starters, we were really never alone. There were always people to attend to. Somebody was always doing something stupid or getting into something that we had to get involved in and take care of. But somehow, we navigated through all of that.
And then we found ourselves here, together, in the midst of a pandemic.
This is the first time it’s really just been us — just him and me — for this long of a period of time. Truth be told, at first, I panicked. I was used to making meals for 12 or more (with grandkids at the table, too). I rarely slowed down.
But Covid-19 has changed all of the rules. Now, we can’t touch our kids or our grandkids. We have to keep a “social distance” — something we have never, ever done before. Our weekends are no longer filled with birthday parties and barbeques; instead, they are full of time and space. I slept in for the first time in years.
I have had to curb my creative and generous mind that is always coming up with ways we could serve our family. Who could we relieve with kid-sitting so they could have some time off? Who needed a home-cooked meal that they didn’t have to make for themselves? Who needed me to knit them something or mend something?
So, I rested. My sweet husband and I sit together and have coffee — a whole cup without getting up once. We are catching up with one another now that it’s just him and me. I have stopped panicking and started enjoying this time and space, this abundance of free time. We laugh a lot and truly enjoy one another’s company. We have unearthed our friendship, deep and solid, beneath the incessant busyness.
I’m also asking myself some big questions. When all of this is over and life returns to “normal,” how do I want to spend my free time? What really matters to me, and what have I been doing out of habit and hidden resentment?
Dr Kimberley Norris, an authority on confinement and reintegration at University of Tasmania, offers that those who have been through a period of isolation value the experience for what it has taught: They have a better idea of their personal values, and they’re more committed to acting on them.
“That’s why post-COVID we will see differences in the way people engage with each other,” she says, “in the way people work, in the priorities given to the environment, and the way people think about travel.”
My hope is that you have slowed down a bit. That you are more clear about who you want to spend time with when you can spend time with people again. That you appreciate things you didn’t have time to appreciate before – less traffic and less time commuting, laughing with co-workers on a break, how healthy your nails are now that you stopped abusing them with shellac or acrylic, the natural color of your hair.
So, yes, it’s okay to be annoyed about the pandemic. But also be sure to notice what has gotten better. What is the good that has come out of this for you?