It’s been three years since we hoarded toilet paper, sanitized groceries, made masks from scraps of cloth, and stayed inside to stay safe.
One year ago, things started to feel semi-normal again. My kids stopped wearing masks at school, we started attending big events again, and I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief.
But as May gets closer – the month of my pandemic baby’s third birthday – I feel my anxiety creeping in, and I realize that I don’t think I’m over it yet.
This time of year, the smell of spring, reminds me so much of 32-week pregnant me finding out the world was closing down on a Thursday in the middle of March. I was so naive, only expecting the shutdown to last a couple of weeks. It’s (mostly) over now, but are we forever changed?
I realize that we are not the first generation to endure a global crisis. There are mothers before us who have experienced far worse things. “How long after World War II did people start to move on?” I wonder.
Did people slowly forget, or did the experience just become a part of them?
I think it’s most likely the latter.
Three years after the pandemic first started, I’m thankful that the biggest topic of conversation at preschool pickup revolves around norovirus, and I rejoice in the fact that my son will have a typical kindergarten assessment compared to his sister’s that was masked and socially distanced.
I’m not the same person that I was in 2019, though, and I don’t parent the same way that I did then, either.
Snow days and breaks from school, things that I used to love, make me feel on edge. Every time one of my kids gets sick, I overanalyze every symptom, and then I wonder if I’m sending them back to school too soon after getting better. My kids eat more junk food and watch more TV than they did previously, and part of me knows it’s a result of burnout, and part of me wonders if it’s because I exhausted every activity possible during the 18 months that all three kids were home with me.
It’s time to accept that we went through it and appreciate that we’re moving forward, but when I look into my pandemic baby’s eyes, I can’t help but see her as the tiny newborn who was a bright spot in a very hard time, and I wonder how it could possibly be 2023 when it feels like it was just 2019.
How has it been three years, and when will we stop counting?