For 14 months we have been hearing the phrase “the new normal”. Oddly enough, the new normal keeps changing and now we are almost back to “old normal”? I think?
The CDC released guidance today indicating that if you are fully vaccinated you can resume pre-pandemic activities without social distancing or masks in most situations which is like, you know, the exact opposite of what we have become accustomed to in the last year. It got me thinking about all the major life shifts that have occurred since March last year and frankly, I’m not ready to lose them all yet.
Quarantine was tough. It happened so quickly and was so drastic it left many of us feeling all kinds of ways. In our house, we struggled with distance learning while both parents worked full time jobs, mental health issues, isolation from the world and yet feeling like we needed to escape because we were together TWENTY FOUR FRIGGIN SEVEN. Honestly, we were some of the lucky ones. COVID-19 didn’t sweep through our home or put us in the hospital. It didn’t leave us with a loved one dying alone in the hospital. We were safe. Isolated and confused, but safe. Our “new normal”.
Warm weather came and we kept our bubbles small and outdoors, but there was socialization. We could let our kids play with other kids who had been safely tucked away in their own little personal Covid hell. I cried, seeing my children be with other children and experiencing the simple joys of having company that didn’t come out of my womb. It was a small relief. A “new normal”. We chose to go on our vacation to the Outer Banks because we monitored and evaluated and monitored some more and decided it was worth the risk to quarantine near the ocean, so we did.
The fall came and so did the return to school. Well, kind of. Another, yep you guessed it, “new normal”. One of my kids was full virtual, two went in four days a week and one went in two days a week. Obviously, I screwed that up more than once. They went into a school with a mask they wore all day and rules about staying apart. Lunch wasn’t the same, recess was weird. Gym class took place within a taped off area of the floor to designate each student’s boundaries. The illness numbers surged and we had to pull back again to remain safe.
Winter was shit. It was lonely and hard. Outdoors were more difficult due to low temperatures, snow and ice. Thanksgiving and Christmas were… ugh. Man I missed how insanely loud it can get when the family is all together, but we did it. Our “new normal”.
The climate has shifted again, beginning back in February with the roll out of vaccines. Over the last few months those who elected to get vaccinated had their recommendations relaxed. This has meant hugging friends, Easter with our cousins, Mother’s Day without masks. I’ve cried every time at the return of those things I so desperately craved in the last 14 months.
Here’s what I haven’t missed:
- The barrage of stomach viruses, strep throat and upper respiratory infections that typically settle into our house in October and torment the family through March.
- Having 4 places to be on a Saturday afternoon, all of them important to me but also exhausting.
- Having the “freedom” to decide to do whatever the hell I wanted all weekend because no one was expecting us anywhere.
- Running around for doctors appointments for 6 people. I really loved telehealth for certain things.
- Commuting to my office and NJ traffic in general.
- Pants other than yoga.
- Bras. This should have been number one maybe.
- Being accepted as a parent and human in the workplace, more so than ever before. I work for an amazing place and they were even MORE amazing and supportive through this ordeal than ever before.
I guess now that things are starting to slide again into “new normal” which is sort of closer to “old normal” I’m wary. No, nervous? Scared? I haven’t put my finger on it yet. I’m not planning on hiding in my house wearing six masks and using Lysol like air freshener, it’s really more about lifestyle. I got used to a different sort of overwhelmed in the last 14 months. Maybe its a more comfortable overwhelmed because its mostly contained in my home, like its not as outwardly obvious that I’ve screwed something up or forgotten to show up somewhere? Maybe it’s that I’ve had the chance to appreciate a life not so jam packed of outward expectations that I feel (somewhat) less inadequate? That might be it.
What have you learned about your life in the last 14 months? Did you realize you were more of an introvert than you thought? Did Quarantine confirm that you are, in fact, an extrovert and NEED other people like I need books and quiet? Have you made any promises to yourself about new habits you’re going to keep? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear about your revelations during this global pandemic.
You can read the newest official CDC guidance here.