What if I don't want to return to normal?
This post was gonna be better before the damn Holderness family did a video about this topic. I tried to find it to post it here, but I can't find it, probably because they put out like 10 videos a day. Anyway. The Holderness family, and many others like them, continue to live my best life, in which they are just funny for cash, and I kind of hate them.
The overall point of their funny, highly lucrative video was that there are downsides to a return to normal life, including having to wear real clothes and expend energy on things like planning and moving (live) human bodies around places and doing things and activities. I didn't realize how tired all that made me until COVID hit. In the last year, I have done all kinds of amazing things with all that extra energy, including:
-playing Catan on my phone
-arguing with people on social media
-throwing away expired condiments
-scouring Pinterest for recipes I will never make
-ordering take out
-half-listening to 23 different podcasts that basically all say the same thing while I do other useless crap
-buying clothes online that I will never wear
-getting rid of all the clothes I never wear including the ones I just bought
-looking at real estate in Colorado for when we retire there in 10 years
-starting to organize all my closets and drawers before becoming overwhelmed and giving up
-becoming very agitated by the chaotic, disgusting state of my home
-cleaning angrily in 15 minutes increments muttering about the chaotic, disgusting state of my home before becoming overwhelmed and giving up
-running an experiment to see if you really only need to brush your teeth once a day (so far so good)
-thinking about watching movies and TV shows other people say are good before deciding it sounds like too much work
-moving around to different rooms of the house in a vain attempt to avoid other people
-grazing on cheese all day
-drinking coffee so I don't eat cheese
-drinking wine because I drank too much coffee
-drinking tea so I don't drink wine
-telling my kids we are going to go on a hike
-telling my kids we are going to ride bikes
-telling my kids I am going to teach them to cook
-telling my kids they are going to start doing chores
-telling my kids about all the changes we will make when COVID is over because we can't live like this forever
To be honest, I also did some actually useful stuff that probably causes some friends to hate me when I post about it on social media. I learned to paint and sew and I exercised a lot and I read more. But I've also wasted an obscene OBSCENE amount of time. Like if you took the time I have wasted and added it on to the lives of maybe 10-12 cancer researchers, no one would ever die of cancer ever again.
I am now vaccinated, and while my husband is not and still won't let me leave the house, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't get me wrong, I am excited by the light, I am moving toward the light. But I'm also kind of dreading it, like maybe the light is the end of all things and the beginning of a new/old life in which I will once again have to figure out where we will park when we visit that museum and be sure to pack snacks and sunscreen just in case.
We've never been a very "active" family. Each one of us four is perfectly content to stay home, do our own thing, live in our own head, and just chill. If any of us are going to go anywhere and/or do anything, or have any kind of rules or order or good habits, that falls upon me, as The Mom. The Mom may or may not have any particular skills to organize anything or anyone, but what The Mom has is a full tank of Guilt, acquired from a lifetime of womanhood. That guilt either fuels action or it spontaneously combusts at random intervals. For The Mom, powered by Guilt, every other day is New Year's, with all its regrets and resolutions to do better. And there's so much inspiration all around. Sally next door has a chore chart. Susie on Facebook does a week of healthy meal prep every Sunday night. Lori's family does a new hike every Saturday.
This past year has been one of lowered expectations on every front. Yes, all those Moms out there are still living their best lives somehow, but at least I've had an excuse. This is a freaking emergency, people! People are dying out there! You people and your outings are downright irresponsible! And what bearing do screen time limits have on human survival? Why not finish each day with a bowl of ice cream? Who is hurt if everyone wears the same clothes for a week? No one dies from that. In addition, I haven't been able to work as much, so there's no point in fretting over my career trajectory. There have been no houseguests to clean up for. I can't do a bunch of charity work or serve in my church. There are no parties at which to look good and be charming. It hasn't hurt that on the COVID risk tolerance scale, with Donald Trump on one end and Dr. Fauci on the other, my husband is Dr. Fauci's survivalist twin brother with a light case of paranoid personality disorder and OCD. We literally go nowhere and do nothing.
And while I realize that for a lot of people and their kids, there has been a high cost in terms of mental health, we have done just fine. Better than fine. I honestly think all of us are happier. The kids are in absolute heaven, basically having their run of this house. They are able to see a few friends, and that seems to be enough. My husband is equally content. He prefers to live with no set schedule and few social obligations. I am more social, and I do miss hanging out with friends and family, having waitstaff tend to me during a meal on occasion, and going to sporting events, plays, and concerts. I miss traveling, especially internationally. I miss Africa. I really, really, really miss my kids being in school. And frankly, my husband being at work. I used to have days at home alone, and it was wonderful. I got stuff done, or just enjoyed the solitude.
But I think all of us are enjoying a simpler life. We are locked up, but more free in a way. We have more grace for ourselves and each other. I'm sure we will one day reimpose some kind of screen time limits and plan some outings. Maybe. But I hope we--or really I--carry forward the knowledge that we don't have to in order to live a meaningful life. I don't have to.