Does anyone remember life before the pandemic?
Something really strange happened this week. A friend of mine talked about how she was sick, spent time in bed recovering and not working. She explained that she was freaked out that it was Covid and, after testing negative, she actually didn't mind having a run of the mill cold. As she was telling me this, all I could think was how much I don't remember what it felt like to be sick before Covid. Covid is now a household name and it permeates every conversation. I reflected on the past year and realized that as a therapist and a mother, Covid life paralyzed me. It's as if I forgot how to live life without this pandemic around.
So here I am, 11 months after everything shut down. I'm sitting in my makeshift home office as I have been the last 11 months wondering what I want in my life when it's safe to go out and live life. And by live, I don't mean go about the daily grind out of habit and necessity. I mean go explore, learn, experience, and breathe in places old and new.
I think back to how I've coped since March 2020 in my dual role as a parent and therapist. I've learned to tune out a lot of noise...and to stop apologizing for the times when my kids were using their outside voices inside. I got really good at meal prep in the 10 minutes in between sessions and even better at putting routine bills on autopay. I learned a lot about riding the waves of kid emotions (temper tantrums included) and recognizing when I needed to be a better communicator and advocate.
I'm sure most (if not all) working parents can relate to feeling like work and life are melded together. There is just no down time to recharge when switching from being at work to being at home. I literally walk out my office door and within 30 seconds, my kids are excited to see me and I launch right into mom mode. I used to think that we could just grin and bear these insanely tight transitions. But, in all honesty, that's just not happening.
What do we do instead? We excuse ourselves for 5 minutes before emerging into the role as parent. We make breakfast for dinner because thinking about a more traditional menu for dinner just isn't happening. We teach our kids to play independently with supervision so that we can read a chapter or two of a book and not feel obligated to do kids activities 24/7. We wake up 10 minutes earlier than we think our kids will get up so that we can shower in peace instead of using dry shampoo. We realize that we are doing enough even when it doesn't seem that way. And, most importantly, we start a list of the things to do and people to see when we're ready to venture out into the world again.
So, when someone asks me about pre-Covid life, I tell them that I was in a really good groove as a therapist and mom and that I'm in a new groove now. We can all think positively about our ability to get through this with resilience and an insane amount of flexibility. As much as I wish I could remember my pre-Covid life, I'm actually okay with this new life I'm living. Sure, it's not ideal and there are many things I've missed. But I also know that this experience has taught me that you don't need to be a superhuman 24/7...you just need to know when to hit the pause button and get out of survival mode.