We’ll all have our own memories, but there are a few lessons I want to be sure they carry with them.
Someday, I hope that the time the world shut down is just a story I can tell my children about.
I’ll tell them about the time they had off school and how much they impressed me with their homeschool schedule. How much I loved seeing their creativity at home, like the concert they put on in our living room, the games they made up when our internet went out, and the sweet sleepovers they had in each other’s rooms at night.
Once they’re older, I’ll probably confess to them some of the hard parts I left out of the story.
About how their grandma called me when she found toilet paper in the store like it was Christmas morning, then cried in our driveway because she couldn’t hug them. How even getting our mail felt like we were risking our lives, and how worried their daddy and I were, even though we tried to make it a fun time together for their sake.
I hope we get to the point where this time in our lives becomes but a distant memory, an “uphill both ways” story of a past time that we can retell.
But the truth is, even if that happens, I know that this experience has changed our families — and the way I parent — forever.
Because this virus has changed us. This time has changed me.
My children may not understand just yet, but here’s what I will tell them in the future, as a post-pandemic parent:
Maybe hankies aren’t that weird after all
This time has been an eye-opening and rather startling realization of how much freaking toilet paper our family of 7 uses on a daily basis (I mean, you can’t really count the baby just yet, but 7 sounds more impressive, so I’m going with that).
I used to think blowing your nose with a hankie was a gross habit of old people, but you know what? I get it now. I get it a lot.
Go ahead and make that TikTok video
In this time of uncertainty, I’ve been reminded that the internet really can be a tool to connect us all, because sometimes, we just need a little lightness among the stark reality.
It seems so silly, but the people who took the time to make the meme that made me laugh or that TikTok video that helped me take my mind off the global death rate for just a minute so I could actually sleep at night are heroes to me right now.
P.S. If my 11-year-old is reading this: No, you still can’t have a phone yet, sorry if that was confusing.
Your stories matter
I’m a writer, so I’ve always believed in the power of words — but now, more than ever, I am reminded that in times of crisis, our stories are what matters.
The ER doctor speaking out from her hospital where a refrigerated truck holds dead bodies, the stories of the nurses wrapping themselves in garbage bags in a feeble attempt at protection, the stories of families who have faced the virus together — these are the stories that make their way into our hearts, lodge into our brains, and spur us to action.
Your stories have power. Tell them.
You’re beautiful just the way you are
This may be a lesson more for my daughter than my son, who regularly chooses underwear atop his head as a fashion choice, but this pandemic has had the weird effect of stripping us down to our base selves again.
There’s no going out to impress anyone, no trips to the salon, no eyelash extensions or microblading appointments, no waxing or spray tans or shopping sprees at Ulta.
And it’s been strangely a relief? I hope that it’s something my kids can hold onto as they grow up, because it just goes to show, you truly don’t need any of that to be your most beautiful.
It’s not always about you
If this virus has taught us anything, I hope it’s the message that life is bigger than just you.
So many of us were told in the beginning that to stop the spread of the virus we had to stay home, and we heeded that call. Not only to protect ourselves, but to protect others.
Sometimes, you have to look at the bigger picture to do what’s right.
You better appreciate that food on your table
Up until now, our family — and largely our nation as a whole — has operated on convenience.
Hungry? You can literally press a button and have food delivered to your house. But now, things are drastically different. We’ve had to take a step back and completely reevaluate how we feed our families.
Do we really want to buy that one box of sugary cereal for $4, or is that giant tub of oatmeal that can feed us for weeks the better purchase? Is it really worth the risk to go to the grocery store and fight for the last chicken breast in the store right now? And how do you adjust when your usual way of shopping or ordering just isn’t possible anymore?
The point is, for the first time in a long time, many of us have been forced to realize that food doesn’t just magically appear — there’s a long chain of invisible work that it takes to get to our plates.
When you suddenly aren’t sure if that chain will hold, you start appreciating what you have a whole lot more. The #finishyourplate generation just got very real. Oh, and also, plant a garden if you can.
You’re stronger than you think
Really, you are.
You can do the hard things. And when you do those hard things, it’s OK to acknowledge that they’re hard, because that doesn’t make you weak.
You are my hope
Seeing you right now, at home, the innocence of childhood cloaked around you, is giving me hope for the future.
I see the way you’re digging in the dirt, fascinated by the unseen creatures in the pond water after we talked about a lesson on microbes, and I imagine you as a scientist on the front lines of a cure for another illness someday.
I hear your sweet voice singing and I’m humbled by the way music can touch souls no matter where they are.
I watch you color with such concentration and I wonder if someday you’ll be signing laws into effect with that same focus and determination.
I have hope because you’re the generation that will come out of this pandemic, shaped and formed by the lessons it has taught you.
I have hope because out of a time when the world shut down around us, what truly matters — having all of you together — has never been more sacred.
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer and a newly minted mom of five. She writes about everything from finance to health to how to survive those early days of parenting when all you can do is think about all the sleep you aren’t getting. Follow her here.