“Mommy, when will people be done being sick?” This is the question my four-year-old daughter asks me at least once a day. The first time that she asked me, some time at the end of March, I cried. Call me dramatic, but I was very pregnant and anxious, and I so badly wanted things to feel normal. Now when she asks me, I find myself getting frustrated. It’s July. I’m tired of this, and she’s tired of this; the whole world is weary. And I still don’t have an answer. We have a new baby at home, so even as things reopen, we are choosing to stay home. The only productive thing that I can do when she asks me this is to come up with a list of things that we can do when things get back to “normal.” When we go out again.
When we go out again, we will do so with open minds and open hearts. I don’t know if things will ever look the same as they used to — I pray that one day we can greet people with smiles at less than 6 feet apart! — but I don’t want this time in quarantine to make my children afraid of people. Judging by the way my daughter tried to strike up a conversation with my neighbor’s AC repairman today, I’m guessing she’ll adjust just fine. But in case others do not adjust as easily (ahem, me), I will remind her that we need to be patient. It could take time before everyone is okay being close to people again.
When we go out again, we will cherish all of our traditions. Getting cheese slices at the deli counter for a snack before grocery shopping. Trips to get donuts on Saturday mornings. Meeting my husband for lunch at the local pizza place on Fridays. [Insert whatever traditions you and your family have here.] I didn’t realize that we took all of these little things for granted until the ability to do them was gone.
When we go out again, we will make up for the lost time. One day, we will do all of the things. We will do swimming lessons and vacation bible school and dance class. We will go to the zoo and playgrounds and out to eat. We will take as many trips to Target as we can financially manage. We will travel and see family and friends whenever we want to.
And, I’m sure we will look back at this time often—a time when we stayed home to stay safe. A time when anxiety ran high, and so did piles of dishes and laundry, and everything else that gets out of hand when you spend all day at home. A time when nothing really made sense, but we powered through the day anyway.
I am trusting, and telling my daughter that this won’t last forever. We will go out again.