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Beauty In The Breakdown - COVID Edition

It has been almost two years since our last blog. To be honest, life got weird after November 2019; not just for us but for EVERYBODY. Our family went into 2020 just like it was any other new year, but by February the world outside the U.S. was being turned upside down, and by mid - March the U.S. was on a freeze. Even though this was over a year ago, our family remembers as if it was just last week; being on spring break vacation and getting the call that there would be no school for at least another week. While the kids rejoiced, moms and dads everywhere were asking themselves “How do we work around this?” or in laments terms “WTF.” We were at the theme parks in Orlando in the hotel pool and mom decided to order a couple of extra mojitos that day. Unfortunately, we had to end our vacation early due to the beginning of the pandemic and the theme parks starting their shut down. Little did we know about what was to unfold over the next year and a half; not just for our family but the world.

During the 2020 pandemic things were intense, and it seemed the news outlets and Facebook rants were shedding light on all the terrible things that COVID brought, and Carol Baskin. Not only were hundreds of thousands of people dying due to the COVID virus but it brought a rise to domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, and marriage problems worldwide. While I can comfortably say our family did not suffer some of these hardships, or to the extremity of others, we were not saved from the wrath COVID brought. Our marriage suffered a bit during this growth period; we had loved ones around us lose jobs, lose family members, lose custody of their children, and the political divide increased by COVID, alienated families and loved ones even more. While I am not here to discuss political views, any thoughts on what the virus is, where it came from, or vaccine status; I am here to discuss the beauty that our family has found during this pandemic, from reaping the benefits of slowness, reconnection and becoming more intentional.

It is no secret that when the world went into shutdown mode, everything slowed down. Our news covered fights in grocery stores over toilet paper, rationing of goods were in discussion, and according to CNN, we were all going to die. Allergy season took a weird turn, when a sniffle came about everyone panicked and thought this was the beginning of their end. I have one friend that we still make jokes about as she has the worst allergies out of everyone I have ever met, and because of this virus, she thought at least once a week she was going to die. However, happy to report she is alive and well and even survived COVID! (Hi Kayla, love you!) She wasn’t alone in that fear/thought process, NY had people flood their hospitals due to being so scared by the news just to find out it was allergies or not COVID. Restaurants closed down, shopping centers closed down, movies, etc. leaving only the “essentials” alcohol and groceries. Who knew alcohol was essential for life? I didn’t, but you do learn something every day. The first couple of months we were killing it; homemade meals were eaten as a family for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, was on top of laundry and our house was spotless. Pretty sure I could have eaten off my floor that month. First few weeks our family played our part and stayed in our home and only went out for what we needed or went to open spaces like parks and the beach. Then our beaches and parks shut down. Leaving us to truly isolate ourselves in our home. I’ll be honest it worked for about a week, maybe two. By week three there was no isolation happening. Well, let me rephrase that, the boys and I couldn’t take it anymore. Trey was still going into work during the pandemic and has not missed a day since the start. He was still able to differentiate from work to home, where I had work, home, and teacher duties. Myself, as many other fellow parents had some resentment towards my spouse who was able to leave our home to talk and interact with other {adult} humans, even if work-related, where I was trying to balance a new work-life and playing teacher for my boys. Before COVID I moved our family 100 mph, we were always busy and on the go. When COVID hit and after-school activities and actual school got shut down, I was forced to pause. It was not easy at first. As stated I cleaned, like everything, no nook was safe and all baseboards were spotless. Our house never looked better, but that stamina faded and our house got back to being our normal messy. I had to train myself to enjoy the slowness, and golly did I reap some major rewards by slowing down. I started projects, like lots of them. We put in a pad for an above-ground pool, enhanced our front porch, built out the boys’ playroom, updated our master bedroom, and even built a chicken coop! Which weirdly was used for raccoons, but more on that later.

The slowness that the beginning of COVID brought was so beautiful here in our little hometown. Stories were starting to be shared of people’s health improving due to being able to be home and have the time to take care of their needs. Everyone was out exercising and I mean everyone. Our streets looked like the fourth of July every day come 5 pm, they were crowded with hundreds of bike riders and runners. My kids looked forward to the their bike rides and possibly seeing a friend out riding bikes too, it became an evening pastime. Those memories will be cherished within me forever, as I am not sure I will ever get something like that again.

The forced slowness brought reconnection. Not for just our family but for people all over the world. As life is slowed down, people found they had more time to give. I talked to some of my older friends, ones I haven’t seen or heard from in years, enjoyed hour-long talks with my family overseas weekly and even strengthened my connection with my children. When the time came and society slowly started to open back up is when some of these connections went from text to (small) in-person hangouts. I was seeing friends I have not seen in over 12 years, and the best part of it was it didn’t even feel like 12 years went by. We were able to catch up and reconnect on a relationship at a different level, growing overnight from high school friends to adult friends. I was able to be a part of their life story again, hear about the hardships and triumphs that they endured over the last decade when we were only connected by social media. No high school reunion could create the magic that happened with my childhood friends over COVID. Not only did platonic relationships get a revive, so did our marriage.

As stated earlier, our marriage had hardships during this time. Some of it was emotions carried over from years before that we ignored and brushed under the rug, but COVID was the vinegar we needed for our baking soda-filled volcano. It was the first time in my relationship with my husband that I did not know where we were going, our relationship hit a weird growth spurt. We had to overcome obstacles, had to listen to each other with open hearts, and change our viewpoints drastically to insure our marriage would work. We had to reconnect, as in a full restart. Without COVID, our issues may have bubbled over years later and quite possibly ended in divorce, but without it, we would never have had access to the time to break down our walls and reset our foundation. Our family has grown stronger from the time COVID has given us. As a mom being connected with your children is one of the best feelings, and it was one I thought would diminish as my kids got older, yet COVID has shown quite the opposite.

Our youngest was diagnosed with ADHD during the pandemic, which was not a shocker as I have it and he is quite possibly a clone of myself. With the news we opted out of medication, so I asked our psychiatrist for more information and turned to books to better understand how to meet his needs. What was most interesting in this case, not only did I learn more about my child and understand how to better connect with him; I learned more about myself. Not only did I become a better parent with this information, but I became a better person and a better spouse. Realizing some of my “flaws” weren’t in fact flaws but part of my makeup, and they could be used as strengths if used correctly. Knowing my triggers and now my sons, has helped revamp our family’s dynamic, and improve our livelihood. These reconnections over the last eighteen months helped heal old wounds and restore some of the freedom we thought we lost along the way.

Lastly, finding what matters and becoming intentional with our time and money has been a big one over the last year and a half. We aren’t the only ones that have hopped on this train. More and more people are saying no to things that do not bring them joy. Although global spending is at an all-time high, what people are choosing to spend their money on is different. Just like we did homeownership projects, so did thousands of others, it was so crazy lumber cost climaxed for up to $10 for a board, not only was the price high but it was hard to find. Our family has taken on a different view of life since COVID. As mentioned prior slowness has not always been an enjoyment of mine, but now we take on a full day of rest every week. Sunday’s have become a day of NOTHING. We no longer make plans on this day and whatever we feel we would like to do is done. This means no chores, no running errands, nothing… and yes for the ones looking to judge, this means lots of movies, naps, and tech time for our family. Adopting a day of slowness has been good for our family, and as our days are numbered with life picking back up, we find this day as a reward. Not only are we being more intentional with our time as a family, we are being more intentional about where we give our time. During this period our family took on fostering animals. Not just any animals, raccoons mostly. We’ve done kittens, squirrels, and opossums as well. Yet, I think our favorite is raccoons.

They strangely remind me of my chow chow, very sweet in addition to being anxiety-ridden. The time with these animals has been so sweet and something that I loved being able to do with my kids. I know this will be something that they will take about for the rest of their lives. During COVID non-profits plummeted, with people not volunteering their time or money during the pandemic leaving people and animals abandoned, if not physically emotionally. In addition to helping our wildlife rescues, our family has started back up offering up hours at other charities and non-profits. Furthering our beliefs in our children that we in fact can make a difference and our time is helpful to those in need. When I campaigned, a politician told me the biggest things one can give in life are time and money, if you don’t have one you have to have the other. That statement stuck with me and could not be more accurate. Our family may not have a lot of money to throw around, but we do have plenty of time to give. Our kids now get to choose whether they want to spend their time or money to give back to society and choose where to help. Although, this notion was there before COVID I have a suspicion that this time helped enforce it. With the holidays quickly approaching, I look forward to seeing my family and others put their time and money where they feel it matters.

This is said not to demean the tragedies we have seen with COVID. Worldwide, we have lost over four million people. People are refusing to work, and demanding a better life than what they are being forced to go back to. Companies during this time have chosen greed and profit over humanity. Some days I feel like I am in a strange dream and will wake up to society working together again, like when I was a kid and the world was still so big. Yet, by news article after news article, I am faced with this is actual life and not a dream. Even with the world in utter chaos, I can still see the beauty within. Amazing to see how a virus that brought death to millions was bringing life to others; hello COVID babies. I don’t think in my lifetime we will ever get to experience again the slowness that COVID forced upon us, but I am so thankful for the time it has given my family and me. Here's to hoping you can find the sweet lemonade in the world of sour lemons.


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