Not Sure I Want to Go Back to Normal

Normal. Now that the coronavirus infection and death rates are starting to “flatten out,” even ever so slightly, everyone’s talking about when things will get back to normal. It’s all over the headlines today – plans for how this state or that city will reopen and get businesses back up and running. I get it. People need their jobs and a return to some sense of normalcy, and our economy has taken a huge hit and can’t be paused forever. I personally miss going out to eat, walks on the beach and my venti iced green tea with two Stevias. My rock star husband wants to get back to playing, my daughter wants to get a job and save money for an apartment, and all three of my kids really miss seeing their friends.

But I have to admit, I don’t recall normal being all that awesome.

I recall a lot of stress. Getting to work at 6:45 am to try and catch up a little before everyone started arriving, but always being behind. Rushing everywhere – to the doctor’s appointment, the meeting at work, the grocery, the gas station, the bathroom. Stressing more about my high schooler’s grades – and all the doors they could open (or close) – than he ever did. Getting home at 7 and trying to spend a little time with my family before jumping back on the computer. Weekends spent driving my kids around, grocery shopping, running errands, doing laundry and checking email. The highlight of my week was the occasional Saturday night when I could have a glass of chardonnay and watch a chick flick.

I was always stressed, and my health was not doing so great as a result. I had no “me” time, and really, not too much family time, either. Life had become a giant to-do list, and my goal was to check off as many things as I could each day. But the list just kept getting longer.

I’m not really sure I want to go back there.

These four weeks sheltering in place have seemed like four years, but it hasn’t been that bad, at least for me. I’m very blessed that I can still do my job remotely – and that I still have a job. I have my whole family here with me. My sweet great dane sleeps next to me while I work. My weekends are spent relaxing, baking and hanging out with my family. It’s been really nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I am keenly aware of the impact this has had on so many people, companies and our country as a whole. I am a voracious reader of the news (probably not a good thing to be these days), so I’ve seen the heartbreaking videos of ER rooms overflowing with patients. I know so many people who are out of work, can’t get their unemployment application in and don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills. I know high school seniors who are devastated that prom and graduation are cancelled, and devastated college seniors who are back living with their parents because there are no jobs.

I’m just saying for me, the sheltering in place has been a welcomed break.

They’re predicting that some level of staying at home and social distancing will need to continue until a vaccine is found and administered to pretty much everybody. If it really takes 18 months, we’re looking at a return to true normalcy sometime mid-2021, which is just mind-blowing.

In the meantime, we’re already finding virtual solutions to things we used to have to do in person. Remote jobs were already becoming more common, but now, they’re going to become the norm for many industries and types of jobs. We’re using apps like Zoom, FaceTime and Microsoft Teams to connect with friends and family, whether they’re down the street or five states away. We’re ordering our groceries and picking them up in the parking lot without ever stepping a foot in the door. Online shopping will just continue to get more and more ingrained into our daily lives.

Is it possible that, when we truly do get back to normal, that our normal will have completely changed? I’d say we can count on it.

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