I’m a husband and father in my 40s who’s wondering what “normal” will be after the pandemic’s finally been beaten.
Like so many others, I miss having gatherings that include grandparents, getting together with friends over coffee or drinks, going to a gym, and lots more.
But I’m also thinking about what our family has gained, that we can hold on to for the future.
My wife worked from home before COVID-19, and had several outside interests - yoga classes, and several community volunteer projects. I worked in an office an hour’s drive away and sometimes had late meetings.
Our daughter’s 13, our son is 10. They both enjoyed school a lot, played sports, and had many friends.
Before lockdowns, home-schooling, working from different corners of our dinner table and being together 24-7, our life was about “schedules:” i.e., which parent could drive which child where, who could pick up groceries, who monitored math homework, drove car pool to swim lessons, etc. It was a busy life.
Along came Covid and I saw all the other aspects of who we are and what we’ve gained through necessity.
Our daughter can’t focus on her own schoolwork if her brother’s noisily upset about his, so she started helping him. During free time, they play together more than before.
Since we’re not spending money inside stores or restaurants, we’ve been able to purchase online some new “tools” to adapt - cross-country skis to get exercise outdoors on weekend days, and an outdoor heater for the porch when weather allows, to sit outside awhile.
I’ve seen firsthand how busy my wife’s day is, and was, as she “runs” the household and still maintains her commitments - now organizing community projects online and overseeing home-schooling.
But now I’m a visible partner in all this - folding laundry with my son while we chat about hockey, cooking breakfast with my daughter during Mom’s zoom yoga class.
My wife appreciates that I put family first, and makes sure I have time and space to keep up with working from home.
I’d rather that everyone had never experienced this terrible pandemic. But I found some lessons about making healthy changes for our future.
We will never again take grandparents for granted and we’ll pay more attention to their life stories and their personal needs.
We’ll try to keep the kids’ after-school activities to a level where homework isn’t frantically rushed, and our adult commitments from becoming overloaded.
We’ll set time aside for enjoying the seasons together and feeling fit, whether snowshoeing or hiking trails or cycling. Once the kids are in late teenage, we’ll be competing for time together with their friends.
I’m hopeful that a “new normal” can be better than what we’ve believed were the necessities of the past.
For many, COVID-19 has wrought the worst of times. Keeping any positive changes in your life when the pandemic’s declared over, is a healthy, wise goal.
FEEDBACK Regarding the schoolgirl’s mother who was angry after learning of a virtual chat between some other mothers of girls in the same class (February 6):
Reader – “If all involved were members of a committee and Angry Mom alone was excluded, the other moms would owe her a sincere apology as well as a full update.
“Better, if the chat moms reach out to all the other class parents, via email, and share any online learning tips, wisdom, or strategies that were discussed.”
I’m a woman, early 50s, never married, no children. My brother’s also single and childless. Our parents had an extremely difficult marriage, arguing daily throughout my childhood and on. My mother’s extremely accommodating to my brother who’s spoiled. I was briefly attacked by a man at 12 when walking home. I’ve not dated a man in 16 years, but I’m not attracted to women.
I have a very deep disrespect for men/boys. I’ve told a psychiatrist but she focused on my depression. How do I regain respect for males?
Your negative feelings about men developed naturally in childhood - an argumentative father, a man who attacked you, a brother whom your mother preferred.
When possible, see a different psychiatrist or psychologist about feeling disrespect for all men, when your deep-rooted feelings really concern certain people at a specific time.
Your desire to regain respect for males is a very positive sign.
Tip of the day:
Post-pandemic “lessons” about family life can help you change some former habits towards less-stressful choices.