How the Pandemic Has Affected My Work, Parenting, Marriage, Life

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READING TIME: 4 min.

woman in mask holding toilet paper, pandemic lifeI often wonder what future generations will ask all of us about living during a pandemic. Let’s hope they only have to ask and never experience it themselves. What will they want to know? I imagine future grandchildren wondering how the pandemic has affected…

Work

I work in a college journalism program. I love helping students go from learning with us to working out in the world as professional writers, photographers, illustrators, and more. When the pandemic hit, we had to adjust quickly. Our print publication went to online-only and our staff meetings went from in-the-newsroom to video conference. Our college also transitioned from seven sister campuses to one college.

The changes and adjustments were coming from all directions.

My husband teaches high school. One of his favorite things about teaching is the interaction with the students and the conversations they have about the books and the topics they’re covering. Suddenly, he was teaching online. And students had their cameras off, so the engagement was completely different.

We were both cautious but grateful when the time came to return to class. Things still don’t feel normal. And part of me thinks they won’t ever feel normal again. So many of the people at my campus left during the pandemic. They retired or didn’t make it through the transition. The campus is still quieter than it has been in my 13 years there.

Marriage & Parenting

My husband and I know how to navigate trauma. Because of my work, I read a lot of news from all over the world. We were stocked up for a few months when the pandemic started. We did our best to help each other work without too many interruptions. Like many others, we tried loads of recipes we had never tried before. And we would stay up late to watch shows or movies together after the kids went to bed.

We also made sure the kids were still learning and staying active. I feel grateful and lucky that he and I agreed on our risk threshold. I know that wasn’t the case in every home, and I can only imagine how challenging that must have been for families.

Our children attended virtual school for one academic year. Then I homeschooled them for a little over a semester. It was challenging, but I loved having so much extra time with them. And while Zach and I were both working from home, it was really nice to have all of us together so much. We built puzzles and played games and did science projects.

Mental Health

I take medication for anxiety. I have no doubt that it made this whole experience slightly easier. There was so much to worry about, especially in the first year of the pandemic. And especially when loved ones and friends were getting sick and dying. There was so much to worry about on top of my usual tendency to feel anxious. But there was also an opportunity to give ourselves and each other grace. There was an opportunity to practice resilience. And on the days when things were especially tough, I tried to give my anxiety work to do. I did lots of organizing projects around the house. I made a vegetable garden. I learned to bake bread. I bought a bunch of plants. We went for long family walks and played with the dog for hours.

Life

I can’t even imagine what life would look like today if we hadn’t all been through the pandemic. Too much time has passed. Too much has changed. Too many people died. It’s impossible to know what might have been. But I try to focus on the good.

I saw communities rally through food banks.

I saw volunteers spend hours out in all sorts of Texas weather to help manage vaccine lines.

I saw neighbors helping each other.

And many of us slowed down.

And that slowing down bit was wonderful. I’m reading more now. I learned that I love to bake bread. Our senior dog has gotten so much more attention because we were all home with him so much. Our children got so much time to play together. They have made up games and memories that will last a lifetime. And, oh, the hugs. I got so many hugs during what would have been school hours. I’ll hold on to that.

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