While I haven’t felt like writing anything for a long time, I am back. Ready to write again. I am beginning to feel a sense of normalcy. Feeling hope and seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel. Our smiles that were hidden for so long, are becoming unveiled from under our masks, and the hugs we all missed giving, are returning. We are reunited, and boy does it feel good!
Recently, I got teary-eyed hugging one of my dear friends; she was finally feeling safe to visit and greet friends with hugs since being vaccinated. The new pandemic hug or travel pass is now a vaccination card! A sign at a local store reads: “Feel free to enter our store without a mask if you are vaccinated.” A new normal amidst pandemic living. I want to document and remember these crazy times.
A recent service at my church focused on how we sometimes build fences instead of bridges especially when faced with difficult situations or difficult interpersonal relations. I thought a lot about this notion and how it has applied and played out in various ways over the past year and a half.
While we were forced to build walls and fences during the pandemic, the isolation wreaked havoc in our nation, politically, socially, racially, financially, and emotionally for many. As a clinical social worker/local family therapist for children and families, our referrals for mental health interventions have been at an all-time high. People couldn’t breathe, couldn’t connect, couldn’t see the light, couldn’t build bridges to be together like they could pre-pandemic. Isolation and fear brought out the worst in humanity on many levels. Friends were losing parents and loved ones to the pandemic. Tragic times for too many.
As a parent to five children, ages 7-16, this past year-plus has been challenging. Learning how to manage the anxieties of media headlines, social/racial/political unrest, all while learning to work and school from home simultaneously.
My entire family also contracted COVID-19. It was a scary time, not knowing long-term impacts or how we would succumb to a new virus. We were fortunate we all bounced back. Like all working families, we had to adjust and find a ‘new normal.’ Not knowing how long it would last, we took on a day-by-day approach. We were resilient, yet knew just how much harder some people had it. We found ourselves hugging our children tighter, uncertain about the future, and knowing that life as we knew it had changed forever. Some ways for the better…
Not only did the pandemic bring us closer and teach us valuable lessons about how we spend our time, but it helped us prioritize what we want our family life to look like moving forward. We learned how we want to connect while coveting and creating conscious downtime and slowing down.
Hour-long family walks with nothing on the calendar, family meals, and games, creative ways to pass the time without going ‘out’. Now that life is back full force, I find myself wanting to slow things down and not forget the lessons the pandemic taught us. There is great peace in the human ‘being’ versus the human ‘doing’. I miss the ‘being’ we learned to embrace during quarantine times.
I feel hopeful, yet cautious as I take off my mask and learn to literally and metaphorically breathe a sense of normalcy for my family again. I am happy to see fences coming down and bridges being rebuilt.
What lessons have we learned moving forward on how to be more present, connected, and kind? How do we build bridges with others as masks and restrictions are being removed? How do we remove fences to connect with others? Especially the ones who don’t think like us, vote like us, or look like us? How can we build more bridges and build fewer fences in our families, communities, and nation? Who will you choose to spend your time with and how? How will you learn to slow down and be less busy? How has your quality of life changed with your work and balancing family life?
While I ponder all these things, I am also taking a minute to be grateful. To be grateful for the lessons we learned and for the fact I was reunited with and got to give my 77-year-old father a big hug this Father’s Day.
I will not take the ability to see loved ones and hug in person for granted ever again.