Will things ever truly be back to normal? We long for the days of hugs and high-fives, un-concealed smiles and worry-free vacations via planes, trains and automobiles; yet we know that a return to life as we knew it is not yet a reality. We are, however, returning to a life less-restricted as kids are returning to in-person learning, sports practices are back on the schedule and we are finally able to get those brows waxed again! While I welcome all of these changes (and I really did dream of the day they would come), there are just a few things about the locked-down life that I miss already and I am just not ready to give them up. Here are my top 3:
Not Having to Answer the Question: Mooooom, what are we doing today?
My kids love being busy. Prior to March 2020, busy was all they knew. We had sports and play dates and birthday parties; our weekends were jam-packed from sun-up until well past sun-down. It was routine for the kids to question what are we doing today (or tomorrow, or this weekend, or all summer long) because they knew the answer was sure to be long and exciting! And in the rare event that we didn’t have something planned, well then, I felt pressure to plan something…anything fun and exciting to keep up with our normal routine of go, go, go. When life, however, was closed for business, the kids never asked what we were doing on any given day because they quickly learned the answer was you’re looking at it, kiddo! Once they got used to the quiet, never-have-plans-kind-of life, well, the questions stopped and we quickly embraced it. And I loved the freedom of just being and not-planning every damn minute of our lives that came with it. There was a new stillness to life and we became creative with our time and in a really beautiful way the days were longer and time moved slower and I can’t help but wonder if I appreciated it as much as I should have because I’m already longing for a weekend at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do.
No Elaborate Birthday Parties
Seriously, moms and dads, can we all just make a pact to end the madness that is kids’ birthday parties? I mean, really, who has (or wants to spend) $300+ on a birthday party for little Johnny and 25 of his closest friends? Not this single mom, that’s who. I love my kids and I love honoring the day of their births. I tell them the story of their actual birth (to which they usually say mooom, gross, stop!) and I decorate the living room and wrap a present and put it under their bed (this one is from the birthday fairy, of course!) and I give them way-too-many presents after their favorite dinner and cake and let me tell you that is MORE than enough! We don’t need an additional party with goody bags and games with prizes and pricey activities like rock-climbing or ice skating. The pandemic has made the family birthday party a more cherished and special celebration and oh-how I have enjoyed that! Let’s just stick to family parties long after this pandemic is over, shall we?
Not Packing School Lunches
About a year ago, I was so desperate for my kids to go back to school that I swore up and down I would never complain about packing school lunches again. Well, guess what? Turns out that was a big, fat lie. I hate packing school lunches. I hate everything about it. I hate the Tupperware battle and struggle of finding a healthy, well-balanced meal that my kids will actually eat but doesn’t require too much heating or cooling and isn’t prone to any kind of smelly spillage in the lunch box. I hate the leftovers that sit in the lunchbox overnight because everyone is too tired to do anything about it after a long day of school, work and sports, and now, thanks to COVID-safety protocols, I hate that the school doesn’t supply utensils and I currently have 1 fork left in my drawer because the kids have brought them all to school and left them God-knows-where. I hate school lunches and I don’t have to change that just because I am happy my kids are back in school again. Sorry, not-at-all sorry about this one.
One-way grocery shopping
Oh, how I hated one-way grocery shopping when it was first introduced. I remember—and I kid you not—breaking down into tears in the grocery store many times during those early pandemic days. I can’t say it was solely because of the one-way shopping (I was processing pandemic anxiety and fear and stress, too), but my God did that escalate all of my emotions. Shopping took so long and I just couldn’t get where I needed to go; Stop and Shop became a maze and I was in tears trying to navigate it. I hated the new shopping rules. Until I didn’t. When I was shopping the other day, I realized 2-way shopping was back and oh-my-gosh the dismay when a stranger came at me in aisle 5 totally invading my personal space? How dare he? I have grown so accustomed to social-distancing and one-way shopping that I feel downright violated when someone gets too close to me! Luckily, I have yet to cry over the return to two-way shopping. I imagine in time, I will fully embrace the ease of shopping down whichever aisle I want in whichever direction I want, too.
The months ahead are sure to bring even more changes and we must remind ourselves that we are so freaking resilient and while change feels awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning—and we will try to resist it as best we can—we adapt, we grow and we roll with the punches. On our best days, we rise above every damn challenge and say I got this. And before we know it—we forget how it used to be.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.