Dear 2022, Put My Mind at Ease

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Dear 2022,

It’s already been a rough one. But…we’re hopefully, slowly, on the mend.

A few months back I began to break. Even though I’m also the glue.

I was slowly cracking, and it was starting to show.

It wasn’t only me though. I saw and heard it everywhere: pandemic fatigue, burnout, fear.

Pretty sure we were all done.

For me it was more than just burnout and fatigue though; my brain hurt.

Not a physical hurt. Although for a while the lack of sleep was doing that as well.

It was a gut-wrenching ache deep inside. One I couldn’t reach because I knew I didn’t have control over the cause.

I felt like a walking, repetitive, mom-zombie—a mombie—making her way between endless morning pancakes and piles of math books on the dining room table. Only to gladly get through it and wonder with trepidation what tomorrow would be like—then wake up, and do it all over again the very next day.

I’d wash my kids’ school clothes on the weekends but genuinely not know if I should prep them for the week ahead to wear in the building, or instead prep some form of lounge wear for the dining room. Oh yeah—lounge wear definitely had its moment these last few years.

It felt like the absolute worst case of deja vu.

One that left a gaping, dark-gray hole in my heart to go along with the blackish-blue circles under my eyes.

I was missing my family. I could barely see them on any given day. When I did, calculations had to be made first of who I’d seen that week and for how long, assessing whether I could possibly have gotten sick. I was sick of it, and missing the simple days of just calling my mom to tell her I had a sore throat, and laughingly saying “well I hope y’all didn’t catch it too!” Back then she’d bring me the chicken soup inside as opposed to leaving it outside on my front porch. These days when we’re sick, nobody is coming in. I’d never allow it anyway.

I missed my friends.

My uplifting tribe of other moms who, when the mom-going-gets-rough, have each other’s backs on this difficult journey. We used to meet at least monthly, and it was enough to fill my mom-bucket half full. I can genuinely count on one hand how many times I’ve seen them collectively these last two years. Make that three fingers.

My kids missed their normal activities. We were told we were done last spring, so this past fall I finally re-registered them for all their activities again. I was joyfully looking forward to having a routine once more. I drilled it into their heads, and we had it down. Tuesday-Music. Wednesday-Karate. Friday-Girl Scouts. We were all saddened and perplexed when our routine came crashing down come December. Cases were simply too high to attend these classes. Our routine was forcefully handed over. So we went back to Zoom and YouTube. Our never-failing, routinely reliable, successfully-thriving-as-of-late, friends.

To top it off, five days before a much-needed vacation after a very difficult year for my family, it had to be canceled because my daughter also got sick. There is no escaping—both physically and health-wise.

This was the darkness I was living in constantly. Uncertainty, confusion, sadness. Unable to plan ahead. Always having a Plan B. Constantly living in trepidation.

And I wasn’t the only one.

I read about others who were also unsure if Thanksgiving 2021 was happening as a group. Even though the large turkey had already been purchased and was marinating.

We weren’t the only ones who rang in 2022 just the four of us in our cozy, yet desolate, living room. We were all secluding, isolating, distancing. And although we tried making it up to our kids with a special movie, extra dessert, and confetti, it wasn’t the same. Plus the constant worry about our ill loved ones and ourselves even—wondering if and when it was going to be our turn put a silent gloom on everything.

No wonder I was having trouble sleeping and was a mombie.

I’m not surprised we were all slowly cracking.

But we were also slightly hopeful on that New Year’s Eve. Perhaps this would be the year.

Perhaps it would finally be over in 2022?

About a month ago our hope was finally restored. I couldn’t believe it.

Cases are dropping. Death rates are decreasing. Mask mandates are lifting. People’s spirits are rising.

Schools are resuming. Families are reuniting. Restaurants are reopening. Airport traffic is climbing. Resort and theme park populations are at an all-time high. Cities are thriving. People are thriving.

The pandemic, it seems, is “quieting.” Things seem…dare I say it…normal…again. For the time being anyway. (Inflation and gas prices aside—I’ll take an overpriced outing over none at all.)

We’re told this might become our new “normal” every fall and early winter.

That’s what brings the shivers back to my spine. The new normal.

The one where we have a reprieve every spring and summer, and have to close up shop again in the fall and winter.

Where we stock up on sunscreen February-August, and lounge wear September-January.

In the warmer months we’ll teach our kids again how to be social, polite to others, and communicate properly. But then we’ll worry about their social well-being in the cooler months. And that’s not even including the rising depression and suicide rates that make me fear for society at large, especially my children’s generation as they grow up in this normal.

Seasonal Depression rates increased this year, as did its severity.

My heart broke for those describing the deep anguish they faced this past winter. The isolating pandemic increases it ten-fold. I read constant hopeful prayers of people suffering, and wishing for a speedy winter and reprieve from their pandemic fatigue coupled with their seasonal depression.

I guess this means I get a break from the isolation fears, too, during this current reprieve—this vacation from the pandemic. Perhaps that’s what we should call it now instead of “new normal”—”a pandemic vacation,” and then it’s right back to “distancing work” again September-February.

The hole in my heart has been filling up lately, as we’ve been going out again and seeing family and friends. My kids are happy, and therefore my heart is happy once again. I worry less about their mental well-being, so my mind is happier, too.

But I worry this happiness is only short-lived.

I’m also terrifyingly nervous for September to come around. I will tiptoe through August. Because I don’t know what lies ahead. Will we officially happily go on as we do now? Or will we go back in the darkness?

Is our “new normal” knowing that we’ll always be taking two steps forward and three tiptoes back?

I wish you had the definitive answers to these questions, 2022. The glue can’t afford to crack, even slightly.

Sincerely,
A nervous mombie who’s held it together for two many years now

 

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