Our world has certainly taken a turn for the worse right now. We are living through a worldwide pandemic and only have social media and the news to tell us if and when it will be over. All of us are feeling desperate to go back to life as we knew it. But does anyone really know when this will end? Deadlines for the end of “social distancing” keep being extended. There are quarantines, widespread frustration, anxiety, and depression for many of us. But I believe that how we handle these challenges can be a turning point.
We have been urged and sometimes forced to stay at home, and many of us do not know what to do. We had been living busy lives. Some of us are having a hard time coping with working from home; others are not allowed that luxury. Families have been challenged to come up with ways to keep life going with some consistency. This task is especially hard for parents who are faced with the closing of schools and daycare.
Many moms and dads have been used to working full-time jobs. When you are working eight to ten hours a day, the challenge becomes navigating how to take kids to extracurricular activities. Parents are used to coordinating soccer, baseball, and other sports-related activities for their kids. Others have been dutifully taking their children and teens to dance recitals, gymnastic practice, and theater rehearsals. But now, proms, graduations, and even weddings have been canceled. Fancy, expensive dresses bought with dreamy anticipation will now hang in the closet until next year. The lists of disappointments and radical shifts in our expectations go on.
For me, one of the big losses is the work I was doing with my therapy dog. We cannot make people smile these days. We cannot see the joy of a man waiting at the door when Britan, my cavalier walks into the facility, or a 101-year-old woman who waits in her room just to have him on her lap for a few minutes. The nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential treatment homes, and hospitals are closed to outsiders. Both of us are moping and feeling grief and disappointment about lost opportunities.
We cannot even do the usual personal maintenance: Hair salons, nail salons, even work-out facilities are closed for the near future.
Enough of the negative! Here are positive things that have come of this pandemic.
We now have time for our families.
We now have time to smell the coffee and look around us to see the beauty of nature.
We now have time to clean out the closet that we can’t even get into anymore.
We now have time to spend time with and talk to our children, spouses or significant others.
We now have time to cook meals that are not rushed, to read books, to listen to music, and to listen to each other.
There is no more hearing “I don’t have time to call you,” or “I don’t have time to take you to practice.” All we have now is time, and time is precious.
Maybe this is a gift in a dark moment. Perhaps it’s the silver lining.
I have spoken to my daughter and asked what she is doing. She replied, “We are cooking and baking together; we are taking walks with the dog; we are organizing and cleaning out closets; we have movie nights; we are doing yard work and enjoying our surroundings. But most of all, we are a family who is enjoying each other in ways that were so difficult to achieve before we had to stay home.”
She said that almost all of this was so difficult before the pandemic and recommendations that we stay home and practice social distancing.
I leave you with this: Maybe we can gain a renewed appreciation for what we have every day. Gratitude is a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. When life gets back to “normal,” I hope we can find a little more of our precious time to include in our lives and maintain some of the blessings of family life.