“2019 seems like a thousand years ago.” — Amelia Schneider, March 16, 2023
This morning when I dropped my daughter off at school, she expressed that little nugget of wisdom when reflecting on things we did and were doing in our lives before the COVID pandemic came on the stage in the most dramatic of pattern interrupts. It struck me as particularly relevant today, the three-year anniversary of the first day of “extended spring break,” in 2020. It was the beginning of a surreal period of closures and big changes to all our lives.
Remember that? I bet you do.
Now to be fair, Amelia is 9 years old and for her, four years ago is close to half her lifetime. From that perspective, of course 2019 would seem pretty distant. For me 2019 seems like ages ago for lots of other reasons. The years in between have been pretty active, to say the least. We went through shutdowns, lockdowns and lots of angst and societal divisions in 2020 and beyond. While we’ve certainly learned to live with COVID, it’s still around and still causing no shortage of stress, division and argument.
Yes, we’ve for the most part moved on. Many of us are back to doing the things we used to do, sure, but that doesn’t mean everything is “the same.” The world has changed and so have we.
Then (2020) and now (2023).
I’ve been thinking about this lately for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was three years ago this week that I made the first of what would be 450 consecutive daily posts in my Ps&Q: Parenting, Productivity and Quarantine blog, which remains as a chronicle of life during that time. I learned a lot from that experience, it inspired me to write a book, and it’s weird to look back to that first post. It’s traveling in time to a very surreal moment when it was clear I had no idea what was ahead.
It’s also on my mind because I had a very real reminder recently that while we’ve learned to live with COVID, it is still very much out there. After three years the virus itself finally caught up with me. I got sick, tested positive and spent a week in isolation. Thankfully it was not serious, healthwise. I am vaccinated and was fortunate that I was able to isolate immediately after returning from traveling and managed not to spread it to my family. I was really sick for a few days, and generally OK since. That said, it was a big bunch of no fun and a couple weeks on, I still get winded and tired very easily, and I’m still walking off some lingering congestion symptoms.
It’s out there, and most everyone I know has had it. Like I said, we are learning to live with it. I still take some basic precautions and our family keeps up with boosters, and we are living our lives. I recognize there are those who are immunocompromised or have other issues, and for them things haven’t changed so much. Others never paid COVID much mind and still don’t. It’s a wide range.
When I got sick, I followed the basic CDC guidelines to prevent my family from getting sick, too. I isolated for five days, monitored my temperature, and after that I was able to step out of isolation, but still was suggested to wear a mask for a few more days. I was getting over it, but still contagious. To me, the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask around the house and in the car with my kids was a small price to pay for being able to be with them and doing my part to make sure they didn’t end up sick and having to miss a week of school. I made a post during that time and drew a few snarky comments about the fact that I was wearing a mask. One was something to the effect, “It’s 2023 and you’re wearing a mask?” Well, it’s not like a fashion thing. Masks don’t really go out of style because they were never really IN style, so I don’t think it’s a seasonal trend or anything. Doesn’t really matter what’s hip when you’re trying to limit the spread of an airborne virus.
I saw this as a perfect example of how COVID not only still exists in viral form, it also remains a dividing line in our society. For some people, wearing a mask is a simple safety measure, for others it’s a symbol of something they hate. I wasn’t virtue signalling or trying to prove a point. I was trying to make sure my son, who has a tendency to catch a cold if a person five doors down has one, wouldn’t get sick. But now it’s yet another item for people to argue about and get judged about.
We can pretend that the COVID pandemic never happened, and I sense that’s what most people want to do. I get it, it sucked. But the fact is we’re still living in the shadow and, like Marty in Back to the Future, we’re finding that some changes ripple through the present and even going back “home” is a little different. We’re back to “normal,” but now Biff is washing cars and the nerdy guy published a book.
(That book is called Fencebat: A Big Kid’s Guide to Parenting, Personal Growth, and Play, and it’s available here!)
But seriously, I did write a whole book on our family’s experiences and lessons during the height of the pandemic. I’m proud of it and of us because as difficult as it was, we did all come out having grown and progessed as individuals and a family. But I’ll say that through writing and developmentk and now as I try to promote it, I often hear, “nobody wants to think about those days.”
I get it, for sure. By no means am I saying we need to fixate on the past. I agree in looking forward and moving on. I just happen to think there are important lessons we can all take with us. It’s important to understand what’s come before, recognize we all went through something big, process, heal and deal with the reality we are in.
It is in the spirit of sharing and learning together that I’m starting this brand new blog, Honest Parenting. It is my sincere belief that as parents, we are all learning and figuring things out every day. That’s a lot of trial and error, and from my experience, it tilts heavily on that “error” side of the equation. It’s all part of the journey. I think by pulling down the walls and being open and honest about our experiences, we can all learn from each other. My goal here is to tell true tales, tribulations and lessons, and to encourage others to share theirs too. I hope you’ll join me.
“Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.” –James Altucher, author