COVID-19 changed our world in so many ways. But I think the biggest change is the sheer confusion, anxiety and fear that seemed to cripple so many people. As a mother to three young boys, I found myself subconsciously worried about the most absurd things. What if someone sneezed directly into their faces as we walked down our street (we live on a quiet dead-end street)? What if one of them got the virus and shared it with the others and I was on high-alert for a consecutive 6 weeks? What if my husband got it and I had to keep him isolated from the kids in a house that has no room for an isolation area?
A limitless supply of absurd, but worrisome questions, would run through my head at 1 a.m. as I woke from a restless 2 hours of sleep. And then I would slip quickly back into a restless sleep, waking more tired than I was when I climbed into bed the night before.
I couldn’t sustain this. I mean, what human could? So I challenged myself to stop and be still for just a moment. I reminded myself that I’m a Life Coach with tools readily available to help me navigate this life change.
I tapped into my toolbox and emerged with something I didn’t realize would have such far-reaching benefits: imagining.
To imagine is basically playing out different scenarios in your head. Though the tool is typically used to prepare for future events, I used it as a means to recall some of the things I did as a kid, thinking of how I could do some of the same things with my boys. It allowed me to use another tool: reflection. The thing about reflection is that it gives you the permission to focus on what you want. And for me, that was a focus on things that were upbeat, happy and engaging.
In fact, the more I thought about the things I could do with my kids while we were all at home, the more I would remember the context around those events. I would recall conversations with family that would make me laugh. I would reminisce about childhood innocence with my sisters, laughing about the insanely long summer road trips to visit family around the country and how we were always told “we’ll go to the beach soon” whenever we asked. (Spoiler: it was never “soon.”)
The more the stories made me laugh, the more I found myself sharing the stories with my husband and kids. It wasn’t long before telling stories became part of the bedtime routine. “Tell us one more story about when you were a little girl, Mom!” or “Tell us the one about the moose!” or “Tell us the one about you falling off the pier into the mud!” or “Tell us about that time you went to the dude ranch with the whole family and everyone got food poisoning!” Though I’m pretty sure this was an intentional effort to push back bedtime, I was usually happy to comply, especially since most of the stories I shared were met with a round of giggles.
Soon, my husband joined in on the story telling. We found old home movies that my father-in-law converted to DVDs and shared them with the boys. We all loved them; the kids got to see Dad when he was little and my husband and I were laughing watching the younger versions of family, finding it hard to believe what they were like when they were our age.
Ah, the rose-colored memories of childhood.
I’d be laughing so hard at some of the stories that I’d reach out to my family to reminisce with them. We’d share text chains and long phone calls laughing about all the crazy things we did or said as we grew up. My sisters, my mom and I started sharing pictures with each other that we dug out of old photo albums, laughing at what we wore as we grew up in the 90s. We cringed at old boyfriends, bad hair cuts and what we thought was totally in style (ah, the break-away wind pants).
But perhaps the biggest and most comforting memory that resurfaced during this time came from my grandfather. Though he passed long before I was born, he would tell my grandmother and my mother, “Put your worries on the nightstand. No sense not getting any sleep when they’ll be there for you in the morning. Get some rest so you can face them head on.”
And those are words to live by.