At Home

As we come up on the one-year anniversary of being at home during this pandemic I have a lot to reflect on. These past twelve months we have chosen to not dine at restaurants, travel, go to the grocery store regularly, participate in camp, in-person school, after school activities, social outings or even pods.

This meant that, like many others, my “me time” at the nail salon, hair salon, and gym went away. It meant no longer attending or hosting birthday parties or holidays. It has meant essentially being parents, teachers AND friends to our children. So our days are very very long. But we are incredibly fortunate we have maintained our full-time jobs and have the ability to work from home.

With every challenge and pushback along the way, there also presented a new opportunity. This year has meant learning to love and honor myself differently, to enjoy my quiet time. And for the four of us to downsize those celebrations and enjoy each others company. It’s given us all a laser focus on how to simplify and enjoy what we do have. My husband I have a ritual now of drinking too much during happy hour by our fireplace and decompressing from the day. We also all happen to like each other so I guess we were willing to push that boundary as far as we could.

Being home also meant recognizing when our fourth grader’s mental health was struggling with virtual learning and withdrawing him from public school and switching to homeschool. This has enabled him to drive his own curiosity and excel at academics. And I have a much greater appreciation for teachers and curriculum planning! These last two months we did hire an-home tutor to ensure our second grader catches up to his reading and math grade level, which is of course a sign of privilege that we can afford to do this. We’ve had a few play dates with a wonderful family who are in the same boat as we are but unfortunately live over an hour away, so visits are scarce but our boys enjoy the ease of their online gaming and we have thankfully maintained their friendship.

I say all this not as a point of pride or even contention, but as a reflection on just how much has truly changed for all of us this past year and how we have adapted. It still surprises me.

But today I feel sad. My biggest lesson has been acknowledging that not every day is great. The sunshine is out, the snow is melting, my house is clean and my fridge is full. I’m not wanting for anything. And yet there is sadness. For my children growing up without seeing family for a year. For the things that are out of my control. And for the things that are in my control, wondering whether I’m doing it right, or enough, and also not wanting to be vulnerable enough to hear people’s criticism – of which there is PLENTY.

Let’s let this pandemic anniversary be a recognition of all we’ve learned, gained, and how we’ve changed forever. How we can come together while being apart. Many have suffered greatly this year from the pandemic, natural disasters, domestic violence, lack of education and work. This year ahead will be a year of healing for many. So for today, I focus on gratitude. And I will enjoy my day at home.

The Year of Turning 40

I’d like to cancel my subscription to 2021. I’ve tried the 14-day trial and I am not satisfied.

Let me begin by saying that this New Year’s Eve was one of the best nights of my life. After the past year of chaos, emotional upheaval, economic collapse, social isolation, and a steady focus on my word of the year “MODIFY”, it felt good for one night to turn that all off.

We stayed up until midnight, danced to jazz and played family board games by the fire. We nibbled on a charcuterie board, sampled caviar and drank expensive champagne, our festive glistening holiday tree in the background reminding us of a purer times and childlike joy of promising things to come. We ran outside late into the night and lit sparklers, the boys rolling in the snow and squealing with delight beneath the full moon. We laughed. We had nowhere to be, nothing to do, and just enjoyed the moment together. I awoke the next morning with a sense of optimism, hope, and reflection. This is, after all, the year I conclude my 30’s.

But then the next day a feeling that I had looked at the sun just a little too long in my right eye was followed by a rainbow aura filling my vision and I was overcome with the worst ocular migraine of my life, leaving me bedridden for two days and avoiding all forms of light. The Christmas tree got taken down and put on the curb and out with it went the sense of holiday magic. We pulled out our color-coordinated family schedule as the kids went back to virtual school, and Robby and I discussed our various ailments. Slowly, the chaos of the entire world collapsing began to overwhelm me. Then the attack on the US Capital happened and it was like everything I thought was sacred and stable came to screeching halt.

Let’s get one thing straight: this not going to the be year of “getting back to normal”. This is going to be a year of cleaning up after a big fat mess.

Everything is unknown at this point. There is no expert to navigate us through 2021. The world is more divisive than ever before. It’s a strange time, a milestone year, a new leadership year, a year of unprecedented activities and hopefully unity in this fight against a global pandemic. I hope this is a year of innovation. Of willingness to change. The one thing I do know is that my children have adapted in incredible ways to the changes presented to them and are thriving with grace in ways I could not have imagined. There is hope for adults too. It is easy to get lost in all the loss and grief in this world so we are grateful for what we do have, and for that which we can control.

Yesterday my office announced that offices will reopen after Labor Day, just in time to see me turn 40, meaning we will all be edging our way back into life as we knew it. I don’t know what this means for the world or my family, or how I feel about it. But I do know it seems like a fitting book-end to my 30’s, and that I will always cherish this one beautiful night that opened the gates into this auspicious year.