In October 2019, my husband and I packed up our tiny one-bedroom apartment and moved our 1-year-old son and two cats in with family. The plan was simple — live with our parents for six months to save up for our dream home. You see, it was always our plan to “move back home” once we started our family. Before COVID-19, my husband traveled every week, and he wanted me to be closer to our support system.
But just four months into our time bunking with the in-laws, the world stopped moving. Our plans shifted, our jobs shifted, and our priorities shifted.
Our plans shifted, our jobs shifted, and our priorities shifted.
This notion of waiting it out was really difficult for me to reconcile. I wouldn’t say I’m a particularly patient person. Once I get excited about a thing or an idea I immediately need to follow through. We moved in with family under the assumption we would live there for a few months while looking for a home, but suddenly we weren’t even able to look. I felt like our lives were at a standstill and my vision for our future became murky. We were struggling with our need to feel settled and not wanting to feel like we were settling.
Not only that, but my son, who had been in day care since he was 3 months old, was suddenly at home with us full-time. My husband’s travel schedule was grounded and my normal two-hour commute to and from the city was suspended. We went from a family unit that was constantly on the go to idle.
I would say March to May 2020 was a tough time for us. It’s a little hazy, truth be told. Kind of like those first few weeks with a newborn. I really don’t know how we juggled it all — the Zoom meetings, the toddler tantrums, the after-work virtual happy hours — I remember baking a lot and whipped coffee.
We were struggling with our need to feel settled and not wanting to feel like we were settling.
Eventually, we all adapted to this new normal (I hate even to say that, but what else could you call the last year of our lives?!). We created a pseudoschedule that worked most of the time — I would take our son in the morning, my husband would take him in the afternoon. We also worked for companies that sympathized with the plight of parents and made it easier for us to be productive. We saved, planned, and strategized, so when the right house does come on the market (fingers crossed!) we’ll feel secure and ready to make that move.
We could still be proactive about our future — even if the journey looked a little different than what we had originally planned.
The past year has been hard for everyone, but I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is the power of grace and forgiveness. I realized it wasn’t productive to beat myself up over having to sit my son in front of the TV (again) so I could write a story, or to yell at my husband for not helping when he was drowning just as quickly as me. We learned to take it one day at a time — our unofficial philosophy became “If today was bad, hope tomorrow is better.” Weekend trips to our lake house became our saving grace — the ability to get into our car and hit the road felt like the biggest blessing and provided a much-needed mental and physical break from the world around us.
But the year wasn’t just about pivoting and making the best out of the situation; it was eye-opening and humbling. It was amazing watching my son learn and grow while seeing the bond between our family become deeper and stronger. Now that the in-laws are vaccinated, we plan on sending him back to day care, and I’m 70 percent thrilled but also 30 percent sad that I won’t get to see him all day. Under normal circumstances we would have never had this opportunity to spend so much time together and create these unique dynamics, so I can confidently say that while I hate COVID-19, I’ve learned to enjoy this slower, more peaceful journey we’re on.
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