2020 isn’t what any of us were expecting.
For instance, I wasn’t expecting to be expecting during a pandemic.
Being pregnant in 2020 feels a little bit like I signed up for a marathon, showed up at the start, and discovered that the race is to be run barefoot on an unmarked course. (Full disclosure: I’ve never run a marathon, but I am a runner, so these are the kinds of analogies I come up with. And let’s face it, pregnancy and new motherhood are a marathon to be sure.)
But since I’m also a mom to two older kids (4 and 6), I know that many parents feel the same way about these past few months. There has been so much uncharted territory to navigate, from virtual learning and working from home to the loss of simple routines and special occasions.
The uncertainty of it all reminds me of a quote from professional runner, Gabe Grunewald, who passed away from a rare form of cancer about one year ago. As she faced a grim diagnosis while still competing at the highest level, she said, “It’s not what I was expecting, but I hope I can adjust.”
I love this perspective, and have come back to it many times as we’ve all had to continually adjust and readjust over the last 3+ months. And I know there is still more to come.
The funny thing is, I was prepared for change this year. I was just expecting it to come in the form of adjusting to a new baby and a “new normal” for our family.
Instead, the preparations for the baby have honestly taken somewhat of a backseat to trying to hold it together on a daily basis. First, it was adapting to all being together, all the time. Then, we added virtual learning and class Zoom calls into the mix. There was even a week or two where I made an adorably misguided attempt to write down and adhere to a daily schedule of learning, outdoor activities and fun. Ha. Props to anyone who made daily schedules work.
Now, we’ve reached summer – glorious summer! Except it still doesn’t look like we expected. Summer, which is usually such a carefree season, seems almost harder in some ways because it’s far from carefree. When this all started, it was pretty clear that we needed to stay home and there was hardly anywhere to go anyway. Now, things are starting to “open up”, some people are going on vacation while others are cancelling everything, and the rules are fuzzy at best.
We all want to give our kids a real summer, especially after the sacrifices they’ve already had to make this year. We want to go to the beach, swim at the pool and send them to camp (okay, maybe that one’s as much for parents as it is for the kids, but you know what I mean.)
In the early days of my pregnancy, when I thought about this summer, I was worried about having the energy to keep up with the kids as my August 1st due date approached. Now that we’re here, I just have to laugh at those big concerns of mine. I mean, trust me, my energy is lagging, but what I wouldn’t give to be simply dealing with a little fatigue instead of getting everyone masked up to leave the house and wondering whether every move we make is putting me or the baby in unnecessary danger.
Balancing the happiness and mental health of the kids I already have with protecting the baby I’m carrying has been a heavy load to say the least. Especially as the guidelines change and the data shifts and I feel like I need to become a part-time infectious disease researcher just to know if I can go to the store. The decision fatigue is real.
But through it all, two things have given me invaluable perspective. First, looking back on those “worries” that now seem so trivial. They were as real to me then as these bigger worries are to me now. So, maybe the things I’m worried about now aren’t worth it either. Not because there aren’t real, serious things to think about and consider, but because the act of worrying doesn’t make me safer. And stressing about the future isn’t going to change it as surely as it will negatively impact the present
Secondly, from alllll that time with my kids (roughly 2,640 hours, but who’s counting…) I’ve realized that they are masters at adjusting to new situations. I’ve watched them adapt to virtual learning (or in my son’s case, following along with first grade schoolwork as a preschooler). I’ve seen my daughter take ballet lessons and even perform a recital solely on Zoom. I’ve witnessed their shift from a pretty set routine to almost none at all (RIP, daily schedule) and not really miss a beat.
Of course there have been struggles and tears and tantrums, but for the most part, they seem good. Maybe it’s because kids don’t have the illusion of control that adults do. They know they’re not in charge, while we still like to think we are. But no one is in control of a pandemic. At least, not yet.
So, with worrying and controlling out of the picture, what’s left? Well, regardless of what I expected, I’m just going to have to adjust.
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels