Like many parents out there, I have had a flood of thoughts and emotions over the last several months. I find myself thinking that the life I led three months ago was actually three years ago. The things I worried about seem like they are no big deal now. I also find myself thinking differently about things.
There are many things I say to my family that I never said on a frequent basis before but have now become a daily part of my thoughts, actions, and speech. Therefore, I am going to share with you the frequent phrases that never would have been a part of my life a couple of months ago.
- “Why don’t you see if any of your friends are playing Fortnite, then you can play with them for a while.” Several months ago, I cursed the day Fortnite entered my home because I did not like how it caused my son to be glued to his device and I did not feel that “virtual” friend time was the same as “real” friend time. However, times have changed, and “virtual” friend time is all they have, and any type of friend time is important in these days.
- “Do not get close to people.” In a world where we try to teach our children to be kind and make a personal connection. Now I give instructions to cross and walk on the other side of the street to avoid walking too close to people.
- “What material would you like for your face covering?” Whether homemade or bought, asking my kids what they wanted seemed to be a way to include them in this new habit of covering our faces in public.
- “No, we will not order medical masks. Those are for healthcare workers.” One of my children was not particularly happy with the face coverings I procured for the family and reported that he saw the “real” masks on Amazon. I explained that those masks were for healthcare workers, to which he responded that he saw everyone else wearing them. I then had to explain that some might be using them, but those really need to be saved for healthcare workers. I am a healthcare worker who is not required to work on the frontline right now, but explained that if I did have to go back to work again, I hoped there would be medical masks for me to be safe and that he should want that, too.
- “Hurry up kids, it is time for your Zoom conference call!” Until last month, I was the only one in my house that used Zoom for conference calls. Now my kids have more Zoom meetings than I do.
- “Sure, I will go clean the dog poop up in the backyard.” A job that I used to dread, would put off, and beg for others to do has now become a moment of quiet. Me in the backyard, all alone, cleaning up dog poop because no one else wants to.
- “Have we estimated how many days’ worth of toilet paper we have left?” Until recent months, I never really thought about calculating how many days’ worth of toilet paper we have because I could always go to the store and get it when I need it. Now, I feel we need a spreadsheet to keep track of toilet paper stocks, how it compares to usage, and estimated days of toilet paper left.
- “I am not sure when you will go back to school.” In the past we could tell our kids school is out for this week or we will go back to school at the end of the summer. Even during bad weather, we knew that they would go back to school again. Now, there is a lot of uncertainty and I am careful to not make promises.
- “If you get hurt, we are not going to the hospital.” With two active kids, I have found myself saying this a lot. Of course, if it was super serious, we would take them.
- “Please do not eat all of that. We cannot get more groceries for a week and this has to last all week.” Or “Please eat that small amount left, I do not want to waste it.” As someone who has specialized in child nutrition as a career, I have always been careful to not have a “clean plate club” or use food as a reward. However, I do find myself making more comments about what they are eating and quantities as I am keeping a closer eye on our food inventory and how I will use it.
I am sure you all have things that you say or think that you never thought would be part of your normal thoughts. It seems that after this is all over, we will all be different. Hopefully, we will face life with a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation. We would love to hear from you about how your thoughts have changed these last several months.