Lessons from more than a year of coronavirus captivity
There is a light at the end of this Covid tunnel. Where we live, so many more people have been vaccinated in just the past few weeks. As we slowly emerge from hibernation, I don't want to forget what the past 400 days (and counting) have taught us.
Truly, I remember walking with my friend, Jessica, in early March 2020, lamenting to her: "How are we going to survive the next two weeks at home with our kids?!??"
Bwa ha ha ha. The joke was on us, wasn't it? Thank God we didn't know how long it would be at the start. I think we all would have needed Xanax.
This pandemic period has caused damage that will continue to reveal itself like a ripple for years and decades to come. I don't want to minimize this or wave it off in my attempt to avoid the deep sadness and tragedy of all we've lost and continue to lose because of it. Relationally, economically, socially and emotionally we've all suffered greatly. Many families and lives will never be the same.
And yet, amid the frustrations, disappointments and downright disasters of the past year, there have also been some lessons I don't want to forget.
If marriage and children haven't cured me of my rigidity, Covid has definitely been the best medicine for it. A beautiful "roll with the punches" attitude has permeated our family as we've had canceled plan after canceled plan. Our kids have surprised me with their ability to search for new ways to find good moments in unexpected places. When disappointments happened last year, the kids began responding with "It's 2020." And now, in 2021, we don't even have to say anything at all. We all just know that life continues to be unpredictable and our plans are pliant.
Prior to Covid, I'd heard a lot of parents express concern about how their kids needed to learn how to be tougher, firmer in their character, and perseverant in their problem-solving. Never before Covid have our kids had such an opportunity to learn grit. Each of our kids has grown more independent and responsible over the past year. When you spend so many waking moments with them that you otherwise wouldn't, you get more time to teach them, but also allow them the freedom to teach themselves.
Having so much time together to take walks after dinner, or bike rides, or watch shows and laugh has been the biggest blessing. I know when Greg begins traveling again that I will have to mourn the loss of his presence. And the kids will, too.
In my anxiety and OCD-ness, for the first two months of Covid captivity, I believe I organized every closet in this house, every kitchen drawer, and the pantry. Greg began his renovation of our garage that is now nearly complete. When you're not vacationing or really going anywhere on the weekends, it gives you time for all the home improvement and organizing projects that have been on your to-do list.
The organization we've done, the fact that I'm not walking into Target every few weeks for one item and leaving with 17, and not having many activities has brought a level of simplicity that is refreshing. So many people have mentioned that they will not go back to the pace of life they had pre-Covid. I think so many of us are learning that down-time is valuable and less is more.
The stress of cooking and preparing every single meal for five people every day in the first weeks was overwhelming. But over time, the kids began to help more. And we also realized that getting takeout was okay (translation: not going to kill us by giving us Coronavirus). We all began contributing to dinner prep and clean up. The kids have even begun a tradition of planning "date nights at home" for us, when they make a printed menu, set the dining room table with our china, and they wait on Greg and me and cook for us. It is absolutely adorable and would never have become a thing without Covid.
There is simply more time to appreciate the things above. Last spring during walks, we took pictures of spring as it sprung. The kids helped me plant about 200 new perennials in the back gardens that I can't wait to see this year as they sprout. We missed out on a big Disney trip, but we reveled in weekend trips to a nearby farm and in learning to fly fish together this fall. When I look at the photos we took over the past year, I am amazed by how much they seem to reflect a "normal" year in pictures.
So while the darkness persists, and the unknowns are unrelenting, it's important to look for the light behind these Covid-19 walls. What lessons has coronavirus captivity taught you?