It’s been a year and we’re still here. A little over a year ago, our intentional isolation started.
I knew it was coming, but I held off because it still hadn’t really seemed to hit the part of the world where we live.
A few weeks earlier, my parents visited to celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday. We had a party at the playground just a few blocks from our house. It was a little gray and windy, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. They ran around in a pack, laughing and blowing bubbles and screaming into each others mouths, like you do when you’re 7.
No one was wearing masks yet. This was March 1st in Florida. And while some of my friends in other states had already gone into lockdowns or isolation, we hadn’t yet.
In fact, the first official Covid cases in Florida were recorded on March 1st, 2020 but it would be an entire month before our governor finally conceded and ordered a 30-day lockdown. Which many in the state ignored, anyway.
My parents flew home to Maryland and we have only seen them on FaceTimes and zoom calls since.
A week later spring break started in my county. I had a feeling that the schools would stay closed after that and I was right.
Still, not much else had closed.
That week, we went to a Purim festival and the kids got their faces painted. I taught my 2 classes at the local yoga studio. Milly and I even went to see the musical American in Paris on March 9th. That was the moment when I thought to myself, “this might be the last big thing we do.” And I was right.
After that, my local studio closed temporarily. Although it reopened a few months later, I didn’t go back to teaching in person. I had no childcare because of the pandemic and wasn’t willing to bring my kids to sit in the studio while I taught, especially because my youngest was 7 months old and couldn’t be masked. Plus, she had the ability to crawl everywhere she wanted, as well as the tendency to put everything she found in her mouth.
(the photo above is from the very last class I taught publicly)
I haven’t taught at that studio since those last classes at the beginning of March.
That weekend, I took my kids to the beach. I’d hoped that it would be a normal weekend at the beach in March.
Spring break had just started for colleges and the governor refused to close the beaches, wanting all of those tourist dollars. So when we arrived at the beach, it was jam-packed with mask-free college students from all over the country. We left that beach and headed to a smaller one that only locals generally go to. Thankfully it was nearly empty and my kids spent an hour playing in the waves, while I nursed their baby sister.
After that experience, I decided it was time to lockdown, whether or not our governor would ever give the order.
I hoped we’d be locked down for a few months at most.
That was 1 year and 2 days ago.
As I look back over this past year, I don’t know what lessons I have to share.
The past year has been hard.
I wish I could tell you that I learned a lot from the last year and in some ways, I guess I did.
But most of it isn’t nice.
I’ve learned that some people care more about their own convenience and comfort than they care about doing a few simple things to curb the spread of a pandemic. They’re ok with letting the old and the vulnerable die off because they probably would have anyway.
I’ve learned that parenting in isolation is not something anyone was meant to do ever. It will slowly kill your soul. Ditto for being around your kids 24/7 with few to no breaks.
I’ve learned that people would rather believe absurd conspiracy theories than actual scientists. This one has the potential to kill us all.
All of this is the ugly stuff. The unfun stuff. The things I don’t really want to even speak out loud.
Except that one of the things I learned about this year is that saying the things that no one else wants to say is one of my superpowers.
This year, I found my voice.
I’ve always been outspoken, but this year I felt even more compelled to share the uncomfortable bits of motherhood.
Nothing is off the table.
I’ve shared about losing my cool, about crying on the kitchen floor, about having all of the emotions, about how hard motherhood is, and about my fluctuating feelings toward my own body.
Fun fact, I’ve had people try to shame me for some of these, too which makes me dig my heels in harder and speak more loudly.
In fact, if this past year has taught me anything it’s that this is my path.
As much as I love yoga and movement (and I really, really love yoga and movement), what I feel most passionate about is supporting moms.
If I can do this through yoga, awesome.
But I also have some big plans for ways I can do this off the yoga mat, too.
The last thing I want to share are the things I am proud of and the things I am grateful for.
I am grateful that my kids are resilient. They’ve spent a year out of school, at home with me and very few interactions with other kids. We are fortunate that the kids who live across the street are close in age and fun to play with. Without them, this year would have been even lonelier and harder. And I am also grateful that their resilience has allowed them to survive at home with me, trying to keep them all alive and cared for, while also trying to run my business and stay sane. It has not been easy. Not for any of us. We are doing our best. And I think we all still love one another.
I am grateful for the people who have been able to help. My mother-in-law, who sometimes takes the big kids on the weekends. The people who came to help me watch Nettie early in the pandemic, who were fairly low-risk and not going out into the world much. It was risky and we eventually stopped, but that extra help early on floated me through that first, hard month.
I am grateful to my parents and in-laws further away who have done super long WhatsApp and FaceTime calls with my kids so they get attention and I get a break.
I am grateful to those people (my MIL and a few folks from Nathans squadron) who did grocery shopping for us in that first month, as well as other tasks I couldn’t handle or needed help with while Nathan was deployed. This year has made me a little bit better at asking for and accepting help.
I am grateful to the friends I have made online. Your support and love and listening has sustained me through some big darkness.
As much as I want to share my gratitude, I need to share my pride. This is something women are not taught or encouraged to do.
I am proud of the online community I created, both for yoga as well as for fellow moms. My online communities existed before the pandemic started, but this year helped me strengthen what I offer and get even better at it.
My Facebook community gives me life. The people in that group share honestly and compassionately and the conversations we’ve had over the past year have been incredible.
The online studio I created way back in 2018 is thriving. I am grateful to all of the people who showed up live for online classes — seeing your faces a few times a week made my world a little bigger. And I am grateful to those who can’t make the live classes, but keep my business alive and help me put food on the table, by joining my online studio.
I am also proud that I created a brand new sales page for my online studio, complete with a new name and new prices to more accurately reflect the value of what I offer. This was both scary and hard and necessary.
I am proud of the adventures we went on as a family despite the pandemic — all safely away from people or masked and careful.
I am proud that I kept my morning routines and even strengthened them. In fact, I’ve added new things in, resurrected my morning meditation, and have started lifting heavier weights. I’lll save the details for another blog someday.
I’m proud that I’ve finally created an evening routine that helps me wind down. And that it’s helping me get to bed earlier, which was the big goal all along.
I also want to add that I feel enormously fortunate.
Over 500 thousand people have died in the US. More than 2.6 million people have died worldwide. I don’t take those deaths lightly. While we were able to take the measures we needed to as a family to stay safe, not everyone had that luxury. We, as a people clearly need to do better. My hope is that it won’t take another, even worse pandemic to teach us this lesson and that instead, more people will learn from this one.
I could probably share more, but I’ll leave it here and say that even though we’re not out of the woods, I have hope.
Someday soon, I’ll be able to get vaccinated. My kids will likely be back in school, in person, this fall. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Looking back over the past year has given me much needed perspective. It was hard. It still is hard. And I also got through it. If you’re reading this, I suspect you got through it, too. And while you’re experiences might have been very different from mine, you’re still here.
If you can, I encourage you to look back over this year.
What are you grateful for, no matter how small?
What are you proud of, no matter how small or insignificant?
Can you recognize the ways that you made it through this year and even find some small things to celebrate?
I know this is hard, given the complex nature of this year. And I also believe it’s worthwhile.
If you do, I’d love to hear what you are grateful for and proud of.
Let’s celebrate one another and look ahead to this next year with hope.