Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The new normal and why we'll handle it just fine

I spotted crocus poking out of the ground in our front yard this weekend, and I felt even more excited than usual to see them. Over the past year, I have been thrilled by the familiar and regular parts of life:walks at sunset, marshmallow pie at Thanksgiving, Halloween costumes, apple picking in the fall, dunks in the pool in summer. All still the same, despite the pandemic. 

I've craved normal, as we all have. I can't wait for a return to full school days, hanging with friends and family, hugging friends and family, vacations...and just roaming the aisles of Trader Joe's. With the vaccine making the rounds, normal is on the horizon. At the same time, I keep wondering just what a return to normal will feel like.  

Last weekend we went out to dinner for the first time in forever and as we drove home in the dark it seemed as if we were out on an adventure instead of cruising down the same old highway we've traveled for 18 years. It was both weird and wonderful. This week, I stepped inside a library for the first time in a year, took in the plexiglass partitions and the markers set up on the floor to keep people feet six feet apart and marveled that it hadn't felt like 12 months had passed. Weird and wonderful. 

My friend Wendy and I have been talking about the baby steps we'll take to ease back into public life—a trip to the store here, a meet-up with someone there. A lot of us have some form of pandemic PTSD. Those of us who have been quarantining will need to convince ourselves that it's OK to emerge from our cocoons, safety measures in place. While I'm not thrilled about wearing a mask indefinitely or avoiding parties and large gatherings, that's what it's going to take to keep protecting ourselves and others from Covid-19. And any state that says otherwise is defying the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and putting its citizens at risk. 

Even as all this whirls around my mind, I reassure myself that as the parent of a child with special needs, I have experience in adapting to a new normal. Life after Max was born was anxiety-provoking, as things can be when you don't know what to expect. Nothing felt secure or certain. Nothing felt like it "should." But as time passed, I adjusted. Letting go of long-held perceptions let me accept reality—and appreciate and enjoy my boy for who he was. Not what I expected, not what I'd been used to, but: a new kind of normal. His normal. Our normal. 

This time around is a whole other experience, obviously, but there will be a similar shifting of gears and acceptance of a new normal. While parents of children with disabilities have had to contend with extra struggles during the pandemic, I think we are well equipped for re-eentry. Because as we are well aware, even if life as we once knew it now feels different, it can still be great. 

1 comment:

  1. I think this pandemic has taught us to enjoy the simple things and pleasures in life, as you notes from your wonderful personal examples. It feels very hopeful to have vaccination started but it’s going to take a bit longer before things get back to full normal and I agree that it will be quite the transition and adjustment for everyone. I hope that we take the best moments from this pandemic with us when we return to normal including a greater appreciation for the simple things. And may this time next year be much different than it is now!


Thanks for sharing!

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