Allow me to preface this post by assuring you that this global pandemic is not something I am taking lightly. I’m fully aware of the somber loss of life, security, and stability it has had, along with other grave consequences such as mental health crises.
I’m doing my due diligence, I’m helping those who have been affected, and our family is still primarily hanging out at home. Now, all that being said, after months at home with my five children, teacher husband and—surprise, my parents moving in with us after COVID wreaked havoc on the housing market—I have had to look for the bright side of things in order to survive.
The truth is, while going through a pandemic has been challenging in a lot of ways, there have also been opportunities to find the positives in the situation. And there may be plenty of people who long for the day when “normal” returns, but for this mom, there are a couple of changes that, truthfully, I hope never disappear.
In the past 10 minutes, I have ordered a full week of groceries, dog food, and chicken food for our 8 chickens, all without leaving the comfort of my bedroom chair (where, yes, I am hiding from my children, but that’s beside the point).
My early days of a mother were spent mentally prepping for my once-a-week grocery trip, because it involved an exhausting amount of work to get through the store with what was, at one point, four children under the age of six. I have left abandoned carts full of groceries at the check-out lane when a toddler threw a tantrum, I have dragged screaming children through a store at 9 months pregnant, and I have done a full sprint from the frozen food aisle in the midst of potty training when a child yelled, “I have to do potty, Mama!”
It was a terrible time in my life and when I was forced to take all of my now five children into the store recently, I was reminded why I never want to go back to those days. I am just millennial enough to fully remember the days of mail-in Netflix and in-person grocery shopping with kids and I can say with full confidence that curbside life is waaayyyy better.
Gratitude for Work
The day I turned old enough to legally get a job in my state—14 years and 9 months, to be precise—I begged my mother to let me train to become a lifeguard. And so, before I could even drive, I became certified to rescue small toddlers out of the wave pool and blow my whistle at offending fast walkers on the deck.
Since I became a part of the workforce, I have always valued the value of hard work and a paycheck, and that has never changed. But these days, since seeing how the virus has impacted so many people’s employment, my appreciation for having a job to do has grown even more. I feel like the millennial generation especially feels enormous pressure to only find employment that fulfills them on some kind of soul-deep level, but you know what? In times of crisis, sometimes, a paycheck is more than enough.
The Realization That Life is Never Set in Stone
Before the shutdown, I admit that our family was a bit stuck in a rut. It felt like life was marching on in a relentless cycle of: wake-up, take the kids to school, work, try to get the house back in some kind of order, collapse into bed, rinse and repeat forever.
And while the shutdown didn’t exactly change our routine for the better (the house certainly was not in any kind of order), it did open our eyes to the fact that life really can look different—and it can change in an instant. From exploring self-employment to homeschooling to more homesteading, being forced to shake up normal life was actually a wake-up call that we have a lot more choices in life than we realize.
An Appreciation for the Simple Things
Two words: toilet.paper.
And you may think I’m joking, but I’m not. Toilet paper was truly a scarcity where I live, and we went several weeks with nothing but paper napkins. I have a true appreciation for so many things that I took for granted before—a stocked freezer, freedom to buy toilet paper whenever I want, coffee in a country that barely can grow any.
I really did have a lot of fear at the beginning of this, and I found that it became my coping mechanism to really focus on the small things that brought me joy, like going for a walk with my kids, growing something in the garden (I finally kept a plant alive, guys!), or making my house as cozy as possible. When the outside world shut down and we turned inward, it was the comforts of home that got us through, and that’s something I’ll never take for granted again.
The Opportunity for a New Future for My Children
This one is both filled with hope and terrifying, because the truth is, I don’t know what kind of future awaits my children.
On one hand, they are a generation of young people who faced a pandemic with a lot more grace and calmness than a lot of adults around them. They adjusted to virtual school, adapted to wearing masks, and found new ways to be creative. Honestly, I’ve been in awe of my kids through all of this.
But on the other hand, they are also a generation of young people who have faced some really, really hard things. And who will continue to face a lot of really, really hard things. And I don’t have the answers for them. But I do know one thing for sure: our children will grow up paving a new future based on the lessons they have learned from this experience. Let’s hope it’s a better future, for all of our sakes.
And also that it’s one filled with lots of toilet paper on the shelves.