Well, we are still here. Is it normal yet?
Honestly, it feels a little bit normal. I keep reading that humans are not made to withstand crisis for extended periods of time, that ambiguous fear and loss will wear on us.
I think it is wearing on us, and I think we are adapting to that by getting used to the way things are. Which, when it comes to getting used to staggering loss of life, is fairly depressing.
For us, we have just.barely. started to add some things to our lives that would be considered normal. We did go on one planned vacation with one sister and my parents who already watch the kids, but beach this year was void of shopping trips, restaurants, bars, or ... anything ... besides the actual physical beach. It was weird, but relaxing in a way to have no option to make plans even if we wanted to. That part of our brains got turned off for this year.
These pictures were taken at Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto Island, which I highly recommend visiting and learning from if you are ever in the area. It's a protected wildlife area and historical site, not a .... plantation that makes shit tons of money on weddings, if you know what I mean.
Other than that, the summer flew but we did very little. Jay did some work golf, I went on a girls' weekend to a friend's house which was the actual highlight of my year. We have gone to one restaurant together just the two of us. I have met a friend at a restaurant one time for one drink, and BOTH of those outings were this week.
We did send Beck back to school, and that was a big, fraught decision. Fraught, for FOUR YEAR OLD PRESCHOOL, holy hell the privilege. There is definitely no ideal life situation for existence within a pandemic, but I do feel that it's easier on us than some given the age of our kids.
For us, going back to school came down to: the school took as many measures as they could (minus some massive cost-exclusive things) and Beck really needed to be in school. She wasn't having any massive meltdowns or was extra depressed or anxious, necessarily, but I was not, am not, will not be, in the position to give her the attention and daily cool activities to even coming close to mimicking her school, had we decided to keep her out for the year.
We thought about doing some kind of pod, we thought about skipping the year, and in the end, the regular thing made the most sense for us. Mainly because the emotional toll of even THINKING about creating an alternative learning situation wasn't one that I could manage, much less the execution.
Since school has started, Beck's life has been better, Will's life has been weirder, my life has taken on a little more structure that I enjoy. Beck asks to go to school every single day, comes home with new information about the world ("did you know a skink is a lizard like a gecko but not really?"), and is generally puffed up with independence in a way that had definitely deflated over the last 6 months.
For my Parenting During Pandemic, I'm realizing that I don't exactly know what to do with a two year old at home, because when Beck was this age we went to stores, or hung out with friends, or did regular life things but together, and there still isn't a ton of regular life to be had. All summer Beck and Will hung out together and I kind of did chores and supervised no one dying, solid mothering there.
I'm at the point with Will where I think I need to take him on an errand or two (watch, immabout to justify Target for baby development), just so he remembers what a shopping cart is, just so I can name things to him, just so he knows that car rides can actually take you PLACES, not just around town, through a drive-thru, and home.
Target is the answer, clearly.
The thing with me is that I'm mostly fine (ha), but I do really like to be left alone to do chores or tasks or work, not necessarily to be involved in the playing work of toddlerhood. I know that some parents in general do not like to play, but I feel like I was better at it pre-pandemic even though it wasn't my favorite thing.
Now, distraction with tasks is the way my brain does best not thinking about the endless decisions, endless unknowns, endless risk calculations.
I also am less tolerant of clutter because my MIND is so cluttered with the "endlesses," that the space we live in needs to be vaguely devoid of clutter. Mostly.
Interestingly, that same compulsion does not apply to cleaning bathrooms, not even a little bit.
People keep saying that kids are going to be forever changed by this, traumatized by this, damaged by this. I'm not entirely sure. It would be shortsighted to say that NOTHING will change, certainly, but there won't be a control for a "2020 generation with pandemic vs not," right? I think our task here is to meet everyone where they are and help them be the best version of themselves, whatever that looks like.
One thing that I am still experiencing strongly is an enjoyment of doing less. Beck asked why she didn't get to go to dance this year even though she goes to school, and my first thought was "thank god there's no dance this year." I realize that eventually I'll have to let my kids do something in life, but doing those things in hard times feels even harder.
The doing less means that I get to Enjoy Them More, unless of course they're being jerks, in which case I Enjoy Bedtime More. Doing less means that baths are a big event, making popcorn for a movie night is extra fun, trying new foods is exciting because we're testing them out, not yelling at them to HURRY WE HAVE TO GO EAT IT NOW, for once in our lives. I get to absorb the cuteness more than I would otherwise, I 100% think.
Tons of people have said to me that a big issue with parenting during a pandemic is not knowing what matters, what doesn't, what to focus on, what to let go. Same, same. I've noticed that some of my preferred days are long work days, and I mean LONG. Not because I don't like being around my kids, but because when it comes to work I know what I am supposed to be doing.
The hardest part of parenting right now is that the rules don't necessarily apply, best practices might not matter, and that's really messing with our minds. My savior has been focusing on little regular things: I can't fixate too much on what the emotional ramifications of all this will be in 5 years because that will kill me, but I can meal prep some things, play some Disney songs for dancing, and make bathtime fun for EVERYONE vie bubbles in the tub and in my glass.
That's going to have to be enough for the next little bit, because that's what I've got tot give.
You are absolutely not ever ever ever allowed to copy and save images and use them for literally anything without asking me first, whether or not you think I'll say yes, whether or not you know me or my kids. Never without asking.