This past February my neighbor and I drove to the city with our kids to see National Geographic Encounter’s Ocean Odyssey. As we sped down the Saw Mill, she asked me if I’ve been following the news about a new virus called COVID-19 that originated in China and was now raging through Italy. Yes, I had heard murmurings but the illness was somewhere else not on our shores. “Buy toilet paper, Purell and plenty of wine,” she said. Thank goodness for well-informed neighbors.
Now that my kids have completed iLearning, I’ve had the time to reflect on how COVID has impacted our family. Each family has had their own struggles living in the “new normal” and this is a glimpse into ours.
Let’s start with the good. Life pre-COVID, our life was in the fast lane–running from one activity to the next from after school activities to birthday parties to playdates. COVID put that to an abrupt halt and our lives have slowed down significantly. My mom always admonishes me saying that we run ourselves ragged. “You didn’t have a million after school activities and you turned out ok.” Hmm, maybe she has a point.
Isolation forces your kids to come up with their own entertainment when they weren’t on devices. I’ve enjoyed watching my kid’s creativity blossom from making a lemonade stand to raise money for frontline healthcare workers to devising carnival day in our house, my kids have created fun options that don’t even cost a cent. Having weekends devoid of activities, we’ve had a chance to explore treasures in our backyard with hikes at Ward Pound Ridge and Pruyn Sanctuary.
We’ve had more time together and one of the best things about this has been our ability to have dinner as a family every night. With my husband’s long hours in the office and frequent business trips, we sometimes managed to only have dinner as a family once or twice a week and I’ve always wanted more of them – but be careful what you wish for. I’m up to my eyeballs in dirty dishes with everyone home 24/7.
I am not a patient person and some of my most harrowing moments of this pandemic has been iLearning. I realize how fortunate I am – I haven’t lost loved ones or have a job that puts my life at risk during this pandemic but iLearning has tested every fabric of my being. I had to sit down with my first grader for almost every assignment, prod my fourth grader into completing assignments and then harass my sixth grader daily who at first showed the most promise with iLearning but then lost motivation after it extended beyond anyone’s wildest imaginations. The yelling, the crying, the role of being the resident nag–it was all too much. And all this fighting was going on with my husband in his home office trying to be on conference calls. “My clients are wondering why WWIII is going on in the background,” he said so many times I lost count. So I let my kids go back to playing Fortnite as default entertainment.
The lack of planning for a dinner with the grandparents or a trip to a museum in the city has filled me with sadness. It’s this lack of possibilities and planning for the future that I am mourning most during COVID which leads to the ugly section.
The lack of predictably with COVID and who will fall victim to it scares me. Right now with the NY infection rate hovering at 1% as we go to print, I feel like we are in a “sweet spot”. It’s only a matter of time though before it gets worse again according to epidemiologists. And so I wonder should I stock up again on canned beans and Clorox wipes?
Each morning I scan the New York Times headlines. Never before have I felt so hopeless about our future. The politicization of mask wearing, the high infection rates in the Sun Belt, the double-digit unemployment numbers and the racial disparities in how this disease is affecting our nation, it’s too much to absorb. I now shut down after reading for a half hour instead of compulsively reading like I did in the early stages of the pandemic. And each afternoon while I hash out the day’s headlines with my neighbor in my cul-de-sac during a “COVID cocktail hour”, I’m grateful she suggested in February that I stock up on wine.