Thursday, October 5, 2023

Mourning Time


Saturday night I didn’t talk to my dad. That is pretty rare, as I speak to him once a day, if not twice. I am very close with him, and our calls are usually just updates of our days, but sometimes he drops big comments about being old and how he won’t be around forever. On Sunday when I called my dad to ask him how he was, he said he was a lot better than the night before. He had been out with my mom at a music concert when he started to not feel well and needed to take a seat. He started having chest pains and difficulty breathing. After a few minutes he was ushered to a first aid area where they determined they should call 911 and an ambulance came to take him to the hospital. 

At the hospital they determined that he was likely having a heart attack. After some blood work and tests were done his heart seemed normal, but it seemed that the levels in his liver were off. After a few hours when he felt better, the hospital sent him home. I had been afraid to call him too late that night with the time change between New York and LA, but little did I know he was up until one in the morning. When I talked to him the next day, he sounded no worse for wear and quite happy to be home. 

My father is ninety five years old. He is sharp as a tack and can answer any question I throw at him. If it is about what is happening in the world today, he is knowledgeable, and happy to explain current events that I might not understand. He loves the arts and still pushes himself, no matter how tired he is, to attend live music events, theater and go to films weekly. He remembers details from his youth and can retell a story without forgetting a single beat. He reads book after book, studies French and never passes up an opportunity to learn new things. I want to be like him when I get old.

At ninety five though you are considered quite old. His body is slowing down and he suffers from aches and pains. His knee hurts him something awful most days and he could use a replacement, but no one will operate on someone his age. The risks and complications are too risky and so he has to do his best to manage the pain. I know that he won’t be here forever, but when he told me what happened Saturday night I was reminded of that reality and that in just one day everything could change for him. For my family. For me.

Last summer I suffered from what was diagnosed as treatment resistant depression brought on by long covid. Nothing in my life was going wrong and I had actually been quite content, but out of nowhere in the weeks following having covid, my anxiety crept in and my joy seeped out. My anxiety led to depression and after nothing I tried would work, I felt lost in a hole without any light to crawl towards. I eventually found a treatment plan that worked for me, but it had its side effects too. I suffered from memory loss. I suffer from memory loss. I was told that over time my memory would return, and I asked over and over for clarity, would my memories return or would my ability to remember return. No one could really answer but I was told to wait six months and see. I am healthy now, and I do not write those words lightly. Finding light to reach for was no small feat and I am so grateful to be on this side of all of those hurdles now. It cost me time with my children, time with my husband, my friends, and my family and it cost me a lot of memories. 

It took me a while to reconnect with my children and build back the relationships that I had with them. They saw a different version of their mother that was unfamiliar to them. Naturally, they gravitated toward my husband for those few months. When I did start to feel more like myself we were all talking baby steps back to normalcy. I was saddened to feel so disconnected to these two humans whose lives I had been so much a part of. My identity was so defined with being their mother, that it was hard to build back who I was while waiting for that part to recover. 

Change didn’t happen overnight and it was a slow crawl back to comfort, but eventually we all got closer again. I overcame, healed and grew from my pain. My memory is better but it isn’t great. It has been a challenge seeing photos of myself from a few years ago and recognizing that was me, but not being able to recall where I was, what I was doing, or who I was then. For now the answer to the question of will my memory return or will my ability to remember return is that my ability to remember is back, but I am still waiting, and hoping that my memories do return. That being said though, I am healthy, functioning and am well.

The events of Saturday night were a wake up call for me. I realized that I might lose my father very soon. At ninety five, every day is a gift and no matter how long I want him to stay, he does have to go at some point. That is the way this life thing works. I spoke to my husband, who sadly has lost both his parents. I told him about my realization that no one gets out of here alive and asked him if there was anything he could have done to prepare himself for the loss of his parents. He said no, and that he has no regrets about the time he spent with them and how he got to say goodbye. If I could choose I would like to be there with my father to say goodbye but I know we can’t time such events.

I can’t spend my days trying to prepare myself for a looming loss ahead of me. Nor can I spend a ton of time mourning the loss of time that I lost with my children due to my own illness, but time does seem so very fleeting. Time never felt so precious as it does to me now in this moment. The idea that my teenager will only have two summers before she leaves for college, or that my little boy will start his adolescence soon and might not want to hold my hand quite as much, is a lot to swallow. It is hard to imagine a day where I don’t have the urge to pick up the phone and call my dad, even if he won’t be around to answer it anymore.

I am trying to soak it all in, live in the moment and follow all the cliche advice. I will call as much as I can now. I will hold hands as long as I can. I will go above and beyond to make sure I spend as much quality time as I can with the people I love. I will do my best to not watch the clock as the seconds go by, but I will also try not to blink. I don’t want to miss a moment.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Night Before Nerves

 The transition from the end of the summer into the new school year has never been my forte. As a child, I would lay in bed awake the night before the first day of school nauseous with nerves. You never found out beforehand who your teacher would be, you just got who you got and hoped they would be nice. They weren’t always nice. I had moved into public school for second grade after starting out in a religious private school with uniforms and uniformed seating. Our desks were lined up in such a way that you weren’t close enough to any of the other students and could only look straight ahead at the teacher. When I walked into my new classroom in the middle of second grade I was amazed at how alive it was. There was color everywhere, on the walls, the clothes of the children, and the desks were set up like tables so that we could all face each other. My new teacher, Mrs. Lee was a tall African American woman with the friendliest smile I had ever seen. She was the sweetest welcome into a new school year that I ever had.

It went downhill from there. I had a pretty mean third grade teacher who would tell some of us, myself included, that maybe we belonged in the learning disabled classes, whenever we didn’t understand something right away. She taught the class how to macrame that year, and I just couldn’t grasp how to do it. She wasn’t patient enough to teach me, so I just sat there while my classmates all completed complicated looking hanging pot holders. She wasn’t nurturing, kind, and I didn’t get much out of that year except lower self confidence. In fourth grade, I had a better teacher, except once in a while out of nowhere she would scream at us. It began happening more frequently as the winter approached and shortly after that many of us began learning the smell of alcohol and that our teacher smelled of it many mornings. Eventually, she was let go, but it was almost the end of the school year by then. She could really startle the class, and it was pretty sad that we had an alcoholic teacher, but she was still better than the one before her in third grade. She was actually a good teacher when she was sober, and the class was all in it together. She didn’t single anyone out the way the third grade teacher had. 

I got a nice teacher in fifth grade but I think I was pretty shaken by then. I hated when summer ended, because it would mean that all freedom, and fun must be over. When some kids got excited about going out to buy school supplies, I dreaded it. It felt like the beginning of a ten month academic prison sentence. Despite my protest each fall, I did have to attend school. I didn’t like it, I didn’t want to go, but eventually I got used to it. I was never a great student, but I was social so I made friends and had fun with them. I made it through all twelve years and even graduated college. I wouldn’t say it was the life changing experience that it was for some, but I did it.

As a mother I have gone to great lengths to make sure that my children’s education will be a positive experience. Starting with preschools, I researched obsessively and spent an unhealthy amount of time learning about the many different philosophies and styles of preschool teaching. I thought maybe if I didn’t choose the right fit for my child that I would set them off on the wrong foot academically. I snapped out of that mindset one day when I took my toddler to the local park and saw a lovely group of teachers playing with their students at the preschool set right there next to the swing set less than a mile from our house. Friendliness, happy children, and convenience won out and we had two beautiful years at that school. We moved when my son started preschool, but I learned by then to use the same criteria when looking for a place to send him. His preschool was set on the same campus as my daughter’s elementary school and we were all happy that they were together. We chose where we wanted to live based on what area within our price range had the best public schools nearby. I involved myself, maybe a bit too much, in their elementary school, and with the exception of the post Covid year, elementary school has been a wonderful experience. It gave us a community of people who we now consider close friends, it introduced us to pretty incredible teachers, resulting in  both my kids getting a great education and leaving fifth grade with a sense of self esteem I couldn’t have even imagined when I was their age. 

Tonight, on the eve of the beginning of Middle School for my son, and tenth grade for my daughter, I want to wish them both a wonderful year. Our once sought after school district has had a bit of a bumpy ride post covid, but there is so much good worth fighting for, and so many new principals and people in new positions that it is promising. We almost pulled our daughter out of the high school last year in hopes of finding something better, but no place we looked didn’t come with its own new set of problems, so she stayed. It wasn’t perfect but she did so well and accomplished so much. My son who starts tomorrow at a huge public middle school wishes he could attend his elementary school for one more year first. I have the same wish, but there is no getting off this moving train and they have to grow up, even if I don’t want them to. He is nervous, overwhelmed and unclear as to how it all works. My single one and only goal for the evening is to not pass on any of my anxiety to him. It is to remember, and to remind him, that this feeling of being afraid is temporary. He will be confused and lost the first few times he tries to find his classes, and that is okay because he won’t be the only one new to the school. He will be uncomfortable with what he needs to remember, who he needs to remember, and where he needs to be. I will remind him that discomfort will go away as soon as he gets used to being there, and that in time he will adjust. I will remind my daughter that high school feels like the most important thing in the world to her right now, but that it isn’t all of who she is. No one finds high school easy, and that she has navigated it with grace so far. I will remind them both that no matter what happens at school, their home life will not change. We are here to let them be heard, hugged, and helped whenever they need it.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Taylor Time

 My daughter is a fan of Taylor Swift. She loves her music and knows all of her songs. She wasn’t a super Swiftie, but when she heard last fall that Taylor was going on tour she wanted to get a ticket. She looked into the pre-sale tickets and found them for $150 each. The cost of concert tickets in general have gone up significantly in the past few years and we also couldn’t think ahead nine months to when the concert would be. So we made a fatal error and told her to wait. Little did we know that the prices for tickets to this show would rise so quickly or that there would be a major fiasco with scalpers buying tickets to jack up the prices so much. 

We put it aside and didn’t think about it for a few months and then Taylor began her Eras Tour. Along with her friends, my daughter started getting excited about the idea of going to her concert. We had a budget for what we would allow her to spend on a ticket and there wasn’t a single ticket that fit in that budget. These tickets became one of the most expensive concert tickets in history. I couldn’t quite make sense of it. Why did it cost so much? Why was the fandom for her so big? I’m not a huge fan of hers. I appreciate her talent, her dedication and her endurance (she sang over 40 songs for over three hours) but her songs just don’t resonate with me the same way that they move so many others. 

A week before the concert was coming to LA, I took a road trip with my daughter and her friend. On the way they began playing Taylor Swift and as song after song played, I listened intently to the lyrics and the music. I knew many more of the songs than I thought, I even knew enough words to sing along with the girls. I just didn’t feel swept away the same way some music can do that for people. I am in the minority there though as so many people are smitten by her, so many! Even as someone not super into Taylor, it was impossible not to feel her influence over the city as she started her tour. Every post on Facebook and Instagram had photos of people at the show. Every comment under the photos was about how there weren’t enough words to describe the experience of going to this show. Parents who took their kids said they were in awe as they watched torn between keeping their eyes on Taylor or on their kids faces as they watched Taylor. Friends that weren’t into Taylor went along with their kids and came out a fan. It was hard not to wonder if I was missing something.

I watched all week as my daughter tried desperately to find available tickets, but there were a lot of people also looking for tickets and a lot of scalpers taking advantage of that. The prices just kept going up, while the possibility of her getting a ticket went down. My husband drove her down on the last night of the concert. Trying to keep her expectations in check we told her the chance of getting a ticket was a pretty big long shot. We did say though that there was a good chance that if they got close to the stadium then maybe they could still hear some of it from the outside. That wasn’t what she wanted to hear, but I knew that she knew the window of opportunity for seeing this concert was practically closed. She got all dressed up, put on sparkly make up, and left with her one friendship bracelet that she made. They got down to the stadium and gave it their best shot to get in. There were definitely some tears at the realization that the mind boggling, life changing experience that all of her friends were all still glowing from wasn’t going to be experienced by her. She then literally turned herself around and joined the thousands of people who parked themselves as close to the stadium on blankets and folding chairs to experience the concert from the outside. Was it everything she hoped to see? No – but was it magical, yes! People from all walks of life, all around LA joined together to listen to the music, and absorb the energy that vibrated from the stadium. Together, they sang, danced and came together joyfully. The concert tour has brought in over five billion dollars, only a privileged few can afford to get that ticket, and despite not loving Taylor Swift, she is bringing people together in a way that we all so badly need. I have seen photos of Beatlemania, I have lived through the storms of desperation in the eighties for a Cabbage Patch Kid and have seen people on the brink of their sanity for the second coming of Christ. This Taylor Swift phenomenon is up there with those. Despite the craziness that comes with fandom, she is bringing a lot of sweetness that has been missing for a while now. Even on the outside of the concert my daughter was asked to trade friendship bracelets, just a sweet trend that comes with a Taylor concert. I know that the production of this concert was something spectacular to see, but so was what was happening just outside its doors. We just didn’t have to take out a second mortgage on the house to experience it.

Thursday, May 4, 2023


It has been months since last I last wrote. In May of 2022, the four of us got Covid, and our lives were turned inside out. Our tests eventually were negative and we were ready to leave our collective diagnoses behind, but it wasn’t quite ready to leave me specifically. I wasn’t sure what hit me, but after some research, I learned about the symptoms of long covid and the side effects it can leave in its wake. I got brain fog, anxiety, depression, and dealt with a hormone imbalance. I was hit pretty hard and was not myself for quite some time. My children and husband seemed to bounce back a bit more gracefully than I did, but what I went through took its toll on all of us.

I received treatment for what I was going through, but it took some time to find what worked. It was a challenging time and one that shook me to my core. I could not have gotten through it without the help of my husband, my family, and my closest friends. I am so grateful for the gems of people that I have. They fill me up daily and I treasure them. Today I am much closer to being on the other side of all that illness. I am shaky and not so trusting that it is over. I struggle with having faith that it is all behind me, but I am taking one moment at a time, and enjoying each of those moments so much. I love my life and the people in it, so I am doing what I can to take that all in every single day.

My children had a tough summer right along with me, as my availability to attend to them diminished. Everything they knew about their day-to-day changed quickly. My husband stepped up and helped take over. It was a big change for all of us and it was not an easy adjustment. As a family, we found our way eventually. We shielded the kids from my hardest moments as best as we could. As an individual, I fought my battle and in time found myself again.

My daughter started high school and it has been quite the experience so far. She goes to our local public school, and it is not without its flaws. It is very big with over 2,000 students and it felt like she was so little to be heading into such a big school. The classes are fairly large and I think we all felt a little vulnerable sending her off that first day. There are many parts of her experience that haven’t been great, but there are also many parts that have been fantastic. She has a few supportive teachers that she loves. She has been meeting a lot of new people, and she adores the arts program that the school has. 

The school musical is Les Miserables, which is quite ambitious for a high school. Many students came out to audition and she was hoping she would just get to be in the cast. She got the part of Young Cosette and was so happy. She loves being part of such a talented company of students. The quality of the production is so high that it is quite difficult to believe that it is a school production. The cast and crew came together and worked hard on this production. The experience has been such a gift that I think many of them, including my daughter, will be quite sad when it is over.

In addition to doing the play, she gets to participate in the fantastic arts program the school has to offer. She is learning filmmaking, scriptwriting, and takes theatre classes. Given that high school is still a group of adolescents trying to find their ways, there is often more drama off-stage than on. She has dealt with a fair share of difficulty with “friends” and friend groups. She has fallen out with someone she thought was her best friend, and with that comes feeling quite misplaced within what she thought was her friend group. I have my own opinions on what she should do, and when she should move on, but it is not my place to advise her on all of that unless she comes to me. Even when she does ask for advice though, it is her experience and in her time will handle it the way that feels best to her. As sucky as it all is, it is spot on developmentally and completely age appropriate. It pisses me off and I am often hurt for her, but she is definitely handling it all better than I ever could.

My son is ten right now and in his last year of elementary school. He and his friends are loving being the big fish as fifth graders. He has a big group of about ten friends that played together on a  flag football team for a few months. He loved being part of a team, especially since it was made up of his favorite crew. He went to practices and games weekly. The whole season they played they only lost one game early on to this team that was slightly older and very strong. This did not deter or discourage any of them. In fact, they got up early every day before school and practiced flag football in the park together before the school bell rang. The team grew so tight and so strong that their game scores were often so high, while the opposing team would have zero points. When it came time for the final game, the Superbowl, they were faced once again to play the one team that beat them. The teams were very well-matched skill-wise, but the other team was older and much bigger than them. For a while, no one was scoring and the only thing going up was the tension of all the parents on the sidelines. Finally after what felt like so long, my son’s team scored a point. It was a remarkable game and a fantastic win for our boys!

He felt successful and accomplished being on that team. It built up his self-esteem, and his friendships with all of his teammates, and I believed it helped him navigate his anxiety as well. He learned that it is okay to be afraid and that you can still do what you need to do despite your fears. Even if he was scared before a game at times, he still played well and gave it his all. He is at times moody and stubborn as all boys his age can be, but despite that, he is also so affectionate and loving. He still skateboards which results in me being both extremely impressed and terrified simultaneously. He is a good boy and still feels like a little kid to me. His cheeks are still round, soft, and kissable. He is still easy to please between playing ball with him or gifting him something sweet. He still has such innocence that comes out in the questions he asks. I am holding still and tight to these moments with him as I know soon enough he will grow, and likely to be much taller than me.

My husband is remarkable these days. He is juggling managing artists, maintaining the investments we have made, as well as finishing up his masters degree in psychology. He has been a solid A student and writes these incredible papers that impress not only me but also his professors. He has not had an easy year either, and I am so grateful to him for holding my hand through the darkest of times. 

We are both very active in our community. We step in with politics and get involved when we think it’s necessary. We share that passion and I am proud of some of the actions we take together. We both very much value our family time, whether it is with our extended family or our own. Our family is a priority. I appreciate the relationship that he has with his three sisters. Their parents have been gone for a few years now, and they stuck by one another not only to get through their loss but to be loving and supportive of one another day-to-day, every day. He is close with my family as well and that means a lot to me. He is also a dedicated father to our two kids and goes above and beyond to show them just how loved they are. He and I are both quite communicative with our kids and even with a teenager in the house, we hope the sharing they do with us doesn’t go away. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

See Ya!

 It’s a celebratory time of year. The time of year when the kids are mostly thrilled to be done with school and the parents are teary about the transitions ahead. I am going to need to book therapy sessions now in advance for four years from now when both my kids have a graduation ceremony at the same time. This year my daughter commenced her middle school experience and what an experience it was. She started out as a petite sixth grader all too aware of the size difference between her and her peers. She experienced the overwhelming fear of not knowing where her classes were, she was afraid of being trampled in the hallway and dealt with mean kids asking her if she was old enough to be in Middle School. It took a few months for her to get her footing, and get comfortable. 

She made new friends and connected with her teachers. She got used to the layout of the school and learned where to find her classrooms. She still occasionally got made fun of for being small, but she took it in stride. She was finding her rhythm and even seemed to miss school when it shut down. She would not return for over a year later and by then everything in the world had changed. Isolation for a middle schooler was really tough socially. Very few kids knew how to keep up relationships through a lockdown. She saw one friend and as many middle school friendships ended, it just ran its course probably due to just too much pressure. Despite the challenges of virtual schooling, with the exception of the nine total short days she did get to go in person, if there was one year of Middle School to miss, seventh grade was it.

When eighth grade started she was all in. Knowing it was her last year she took advantage of all it had to offer. She took improv, played on the tennis team, was on student council, and did both the fall and spring theatre productions. She settled into a great group of friends who were both supportive and smart. They inspired each other by doing projects and helping each other study. There was an awards night and each friend as well as my girl, got an award for excellence. Two of her friends were even the valedictorians. It was a special night. The commencement ceremony was yesterday and it was fun watching all of these kids dressed in their best. There were definitely some awkward shoe situations for many of the girls. My daughter, included, looked uncomfortable trying to navigate in her ill-fitting first pair of heels.

As each name was called cheers rang from different parts of the bleachers. Everyone was happy to be together in celebration of all the kids. The student body president spoke about conquering Middle School and what lies ahead in High School. She warned that it would be hard, but that they all lived through hard already. I am sure the workload and responsibility will be a bit heavier, but I have faith that after she settles in, she will shine in High School, just as she did in Middle School. She has learned that life can be full of surprising challenges, but that it also can just be full. May her cup runneth over.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Oh Boy!

 Today is the last day I will have a nine year old boy. As I reminded him of this before school this morning, we said that he would be entering double digits for a long long time. He responded with wise words.

“I hope I will be double digits and live long enough to be triple digits one day.” 

I told him that was a good goal and with any luck and some good genes, he just might. I watch my child before my very eyes grow into this sensitive, beautiful boy. He has one toe in little boy and one toe towards tween. I love the rare occasions he still wants to snuggle in bed with me. I love his hugs, the way he puts his arms around me and moves his fingers in my hair, and his unsolicited kisses. The way he used to physically cling to me is gone, but in its place is one active, adventurous, fun-seeking kid. 

Like many boys his age, he loves being silly, and often he doesn’t know when the right time to turn on the serious switch is. He gets carried away and doesn’t always pick up on the cues when not everyone around him thinks what he is doing is funny. He is overall a really good boy and is lacking a bit of maturity. What he isn’t lacking is a sense of fear that didn’t exist prior to the pandemic. He has separation anxiety, and if he is heading off to a new class or camp will be up the night before worrying about it for hours. He needs reassurance that he will be okay and safe when he gets there. I have promised him at times that he would be and I wasn’t exactly right. The past few years shifted everything as we knew it, so the way I thought things might work out didn’t always go as planned.

What I wish for him as he turns ten is that he taps into the reservoir of his bravery that he doesn’t even know he has yet. I hope that his bravery will be stronger than his fear. I hope that he can get beyond what scares him enough that he can reach his full potential. I see glimmers of it now in moments where he is able to turn on his focus despite whatever negativity he has lingering about. He has proven to be quite the athlete and I believe his confidence has grown from his accomplishments on the field, or in the skate park. I wish for him that he knows that he is smart, kind, sensitive, and sweet, and that at that I love him to the ends of the earth and back. I want him to know that we have his best interest at heart and that we have his back.

I once read that girls are difficult to raise and that boys are difficult to keep alive. This is relatable and makes me laugh. There are times when I am watching my kiddo drop down into a twelve-foot skate pool and skate around it at crazy speeds, or fly through the air as he lifts up off the top of a ramp. I watch these things thew the space between my fingers as my hand covers my face. It is hard to watch sometimes but he usually is fine. After all, we made it to ten, and he continues to soar! I can’t wait to see what is ahead for this sweet boy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Two Years

 It’s been two years since our lives changed overnight. Two years ago we had each had a foot in both the pre-pandemic and pandemic worlds, one of which we were so familiar with and the other was entirely unknown. Everything prior to March 13th two years ago will be known as the before, the before the pandemic, before masks, before lockdown, and before all things zoom. It is important for me to commemorate this amount of time because we all went through a lot. Collectively and alone we suffered, we struggled, many survived and many did not. 

Text messages went between my friend and me about what was happening in Italy. That seemed so far away so if they were closing their schools, it didn’t seem evident to me that we would be closing ours so soon. Another friend and I met at the park and talked while our boys played. She had already purchased a new play structure for her backyard because she was worried that if they closed schools that she wanted her kids to have something to do outside. Another friend bought pounds of dried beans and rice in case stores ran out of food, while another stocked up on anti-bacterial wipes. I watched them all thinking they were all over-preparing. I was one of those ignorant people who thought that it might take a few weeks but then everything would go back to normal. I was so wrong and they were so right.

Honestly, when schools shut down a week early for spring break, I was happy. I wasn’t happy with what was happening around the world, but I thought the kids could all use a break and we would all be back in three weeks anyway. I remember reading an article about how people were getting themselves more worried about Covid-19 than they needed to be and the anxiety they were causing themselves was worse than the virus itself. Whoever wrote that article was also very wrong. What started as an extra week of vacation turned into everyone's worst-case scenario. Hospitals were filled with dying patients. The virus was more contagious than anyone initially thought. People did indeed panic buy food leaving grocery store shelves bare. We were afraid to walk out our front door, afraid to touch our own mail, we wiped down everything from the outside world and stopped seeing other people. 

After it was clear we would not be returning to normal for some time, we wondered how and when kids would be allowed to return back to school. When my friend told me that they wouldn’t reopen it at all that year, I couldn’t process her words. Unprecedented was the only word that would stick in my mind. None of us knew anything and we just got through the day as creatively as possible while wearing so many new hats. Teacher, chef, entertainment coordinator. I would clad a mask and take the dog for so many walks just to get out of the house. At one point early on I started to feel claustrophobic and asked my husband to take over while I went for a drive. I couldn’t be inside anymore and yet we weren’t supposed to go anywhere. I had to see something that hadn’t changed so I drove to the ocean. I didn’t even get out because we were not allowed on the beach. I just rolled the windows down and breathed in the salty air as I stared at the ocean. I was envious of its crashing waves, the tide moving in and out despite the pain that people were feeling everywhere, it kept moving unaffected by a lockdown. It made me feel at peace even if it was only for a few moments.

That last Friday before the lockdown began the final school bell rang and I walked my kids over to our friend’s house. We were unsure if we should be socializing, but we knew it might be the last time for a while so we let the four kids play in the house together while my friend and I had tea. This was all before masks and social distancing were in our vocabulary, yet even so we were afraid to get too close. We were careful to wash the mugs and spoons we just used because we knew nothing about how this new virus could spread. When we said goodbye that afternoon, little did we know how very long it would be before we would step foot in each other’s houses again?

The last day of school came and went without any ceremony. My daughter was in sixth grade and after such a challenging transition to Middle School, she had finally started to like it when it all shut down. Middle school is hard enough to get used to in the best of times so if there is any age to avoid your peers I suppose I would choose to lose out on middle school. My son was in second grade and having the best school year. He loved his teacher and had a wonderful class of kids. For him, it was devastating to end the school year with zero closure. That summer came and there were no camps to send kids to. There was no traveling to see the world. There were no family get-togethers, so my friend and I tried to make the summer as interesting as possible. We took lots of trips to the beach, which had opened again for the summer.  We “traveled” by doing crafts, eating new foods, and learning about other countries. We did scavenger hunts. My kids and I painted rocks, did a lot of sidewalk chalk, we raised chicks, fostered kittens, and played a lot of board games. 

That August we took a family road trip because it was safer to manage than getting on a plane. It was one of the best experiences we have had as a family and one that we talked about doing but only made happen because of the pandemic. When school started up again it was all online which was a nightmare that was only countered by the fact that we could get out of town and zoom from anywhere, so occasionally we did just that. These little trips were our self-preservation. I baked more, cooked more, read more, and created more. The quiet time together wasn’t all bad. I am forever grateful to have had one year that went by slowly enough to really see my children. When it was time to go back to school, all of us were ready. I would be lying though if I said there weren’t things I missed about the slower pace the pandemic made us take. 

Now two years later, things are back to a new version of normal. We still wear masks a lot of the time. We still don’t just go into each other’s houses. Lots of people just work from home, but school is back in person. In some ways, I am still really missing the interaction I had a few years ago. In other ways, I am content with a simpler life. The virus has been a roller coaster but it now seems a lot more in control and a lot less deadly. The world is by no means in a great place these days, but we have come a long way together, and I will take whatever peace comes my way. May we all be healthy, safe, and at ease again soon.