Getting Back to “Normal”: I Don’t Know How to Do This

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Just one year ago, we wondered when we would “get back to normal.” We cried — missing milestones, canceling events; we mourned — the lives lost, the routines we were leaving behind, and we hoped and prayed that the future would look much brighter. It felt like the longest, shortest year, and somehow, here we are, amazingly close to the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are open. People are out. I am fully vaccinated. I should be ready to resume life as usual — but wait. I don’t know how to do this.

The reality is, the person I was pre-quarantine is a lot different than the person I am post-quarantine. For one, I was 32 weeks pregnant when the pandemic hit. I entered pandemic life as a mom of two, and I am entering the world again as a mom of three — only my baby is now a toddler. A friend of mine recently asked me how I get out of the house with three kids (all young enough to be in five-point harnesses), and I paused, a little embarrassed. “I’m not really sure yet! We’ve hardly gone anywhere!”, I said. You’d think I’d already had a system down by the time my youngest is one, but that’s not the case in a pandemic. I don’t know how to do this yet.

Socializing is another issue. I thought that once I was two weeks past my second dose of vaccine, I’d be running out the door ready to go do anything, see anyone. As it turns out, I’m the same homebody that I was pre-covid. “Will I remember how to have a conversation?” “Am I allowed to take my mask off now?” “Why is everyone still wearing a mask?” “Why isn’t anyone wearing a mask?” “Small talk is exhausting.” “It felt so good to get out.” “I like being home.” These are the conversations I have in my head. I don’t know how to do this yet.

I feel like I’m straddling a line dividing two worlds right now. One foot is in a world of relief and so much to celebrate, and one foot is stuck a little bit behind — a world of wondering about my young kids, still comfortable at home, not thrilled to be so busy. 

At some point, whether it’s tomorrow or one year from now, all of us will go back to “normal.” We will emerge from the cocoons that we’ve created, and we will embark on new adventures in a world that has changed so much, yet so little at the same time.

You’re not alone if you find yourself saying, “I don’t know how to do this.”

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