Today marks two years since the pandemic began for us. Friday, March 13, 2020 was the first day the kids did not have school, the first day I did not go to the office, and the day the global pandemic directly affected us. As I look back two years later, a few thoughts and memories stand out:
- Our kids were at such fortunate ages. They were old enough to understand what was going on and to do remote school independently but young enough that missing school didn’t really matter. I feel for the families with kids in either preschool or college. Seriously, if any of us were going to choose to miss a year and a half of normal school wouldn’t we choose the awkward time of middle school?
- The dog made our house a happier place. We lucked out getting a dog in February 2020 and have not yet had to worry about a dog-walker or pet-sitter (friends have been super helpful the times we went away). Daisy has been as easy of a dog as seems possible, the kids have shown responsibility, and our family dynamic during these two years is better because we have a fluffy Doodle in our house.
- Work can be done remotely. We may not enjoy remote work as much as in person but it certainly has shown to be productive and is here to stay. Our kids are growing up seeing their parents work in such a different way than previously and it feels like remote work will be a key part of our professional future.
- We don’t know our neighbors. Being stuck at home made us realize how little connection we have to the people who live close to us. This is very typical in this country but it was a reminder that it takes more effort than we’ve been putting in to get to know neighbors.
- We were lucky to not lose family members to Covid. We didn’t attend one Zoom funeral, we didn’t have any close family or friends who died of Covid. We are in a privileged demographic in so many ways, but it seems like dumb luck that people close to us did not die or get especially sick during the pandemic.
- We are more adaptable than expected. We as humans, we as Americans, we as the four of us all adapted our routines and adjusted to the changes in ways I wouldn’t have predicted. We figured out remote work and school very quickly, we figured out our comfort level with situations, and we adjusted as the world changed around us. It’s not yet clear how many of the changes will stick, but I have more optimism about our ability to adjust again.
- Communication about risk tolerance was key. Jeanne and I were aligned on most aspects of comfort level but the key was talking about it. From “Are you ok with me going to the grocery store?” to “Are you ok with outdoor dining?” to “Are you ok with getting on an airplane?”, the key was asking the question and being open to the conversation. I know there were households where people fundamentally disagreed on risk tolerance and we were fortunate that we didn’t have to fight those battles at home.
- Masks are here to stay. Our town removed the mask mandate last week and the schools are now mask-optional. This seems like the situation for the future as we hope that when someone wears a mask they are accepted and not stigmatized. Some will wear them to protect themselves, some will wear them to protect others, and some will wear them because they are more comfortable with a face covering. Many Asian countries have been used to a hybrid population and my expectation is that we will now have the masked and unmasked interacting throughout society.
- Covid is only one of our major issues. It was almost possible to ignore the other major issues in our country and the world as we focused on the pandemic. But as we realize the power and effect of discrimination, climate change, and war, it’s clear that while we may be turning the page on the pandemic we have a lot of work to do to improve the world around us.
- These years will be hugely defining. The pandemic will be a huge milestone as we think about things that were pre- and post-Covid. Pre-covid I had young kids, post-Covid we have limited time while they are still at home. Pre-Covid I was somewhat oblivious to the world around me, post-Covid I am more engaged with what’s going on in the town, the country and the world. Pre-Covid I took things like playing soccer or going to concerts for granted, post-Covid I’m aware that my time doing activities should be appreciated and enjoyed.
I’m sure there will be more changes and effects in the coming months and years but as we look back at the two-year mark, it feels like an important milestone to observe.