For some of us, a new year means sketching out goals and plans for the coming months. For others, maybe the calendar has rolled over. Still, it’s mostly another day, another month, to keep carrying on with our work, parenting, and life.
For all of us, it means we’re entering year three of a global pandemic.
*insert record scratch sound here*
Does anyone else remember how bright and shiny 2020 dawned? A new decade, a new era. There was talk of the “roaring ‘20’s” and of goals and dreams: people were sketching out plans not only for the new year but for the entire decade.
Enter: March 2020. You hardly need me to detail that out for you.
The past two years have blurred and fused together in my mind. Trying to extricate the 2020 memories from the 2021 ones seems to require the precision of a surgeon. They’ve woven together until it’s hard to believe they were separate years at all. It’s hard to believe that two whole years have passed, despite the fact that, well, two whole years have passed.
Still, I remember the early days of the pandemic with something akin to nostalgia. We went on spring break and didn’t set foot back into school for over six months. I set up learning stations and my computer so my Kindergarteners could watch the videos their teacher uploaded faithfully every single day. I remember my just-turned-four-year-old following along, shouting out sight words with them. I remember how our kitchen table was 75% classroom and 25% a place to eat meals.
Remember hybrid school? Remember color-coding schedules for the days they did distance learning? Remember lecturing your six-year-old when you heard the toilet flush and watched them walk out of the bathroom with their iPad and when you told them that wasn’t allowed they responded, “But otherwise I’ll miss class!” (Just me?)
Remember all the time we spent outside? Remember cautiously letting the kids play at the park with other people? Remember Zoom holidays and birthdays? Remember vaccines entering the picture and how miraculous it felt? Remember buying yet more masks as the third pandemic school year began? Remember?
We’ve built up an entire cultural vocabulary of “do-you-remember”s.
We’re entering our third pandemic year, and if nothing else, we’ve learned to embrace uncertainty. Or, if not embrace, then live with it on a near-daily basis.
We’ve worn the masks and we’ve stayed home and we’ve tested and we’ve gotten vaccinated and boosted and we’ve done the distance learning and we’ve worked from home and we’ve drawn and re-drawn up the schedules and it can be exhausting that at least some of those things, to some extent, are still being asked of us.
I don’t know what you need as this third pandemic year begins. I’m trying to tread gently right now. I need the wherewithal to dig even deeper into the well of patience that feels like it was depleted a full eighteen months ago. I need to remind myself that what we’ve been asked as parents for the past two years is not normal. I need to remember that we can only take things one day (hour, minute) at a time. I might need a new sweatsuit.
We’ve navigated everything that could possibly be asked of us over the past two years. Our sanity has been tried and tested. Still, I’m entering 2022 feeling cautiously hopeful. It might not be the bright and shiny way we entered into this decade but I don’t know how to enter the new year any other way.