My family, like many others around the world, has been completely isolated for the past few months in quarantine. Our trips to the supermarket have been far apart, making sure we have enough shelf food for endless weeks, our birthdays have been celebrated on Zoom and the most contact our toddler has had besides us has been waving at the mailman from a far distance.
At first, this new life was uncomfortable.
We were on top of each other all the time, there was a lack of privacy and quiet time that often felt overwhelming.
I longed for things to go back to normal so we could carry on with our lives.
I wanted to go out for dinner and not eat with our toddler every night.
I wanted to have some fancy new drink in a glass that was not just pulled out of the sink.
I wanted to see friends and family and smile at strangers on the street.
Slowly though, this new way of living became easier and easier (yes, we do have a backyard where the toddler can run, I’ll admit that helps immensely.)
I got used to seeing no one but my husband and our three children. Our toddler stopped asking about his friends and when we could go to the playground. Our newborns are happy as long as we have enough diapers and wipes (it was a problem when the whole shutdown began, stressful times.)
Now that states are starting to open up and resume life as it used to be—or as close to it as it is possible until we have a vaccine for the coronavirus—I don’t know if I’m ready to go back to it like everyone else seems to be.
A couple of days ago, fearing the end of my maternity leave and faced with the fact that I haven’t done anything special with just my toddler since forever, I decided to take him to the beach for a couple of hours. It was lovely. It was just us and another couple of parents with their little ones. We all stayed far, far, far away from each other and made sure our children did as well.
My toddler was so excited to see other kids that he laughingly yelled, “I’M AT THE PLAYGROUND!” It both made my day and slightly broke my heart. He clearly needed to see others his age.
Emboldened by our first outing being such a hit, I decided to go back to the beach the next day. It started equally nicely as the day before, but that took a turn when by 11 am there were so many people at the beach it was nearly impossible to be six feet apart.
I looked around everywhere trying to find a spot for us to be away from others while still enjoying the day. I angrily stared at those who came too close without caring—or maybe they didn’t even notice? How could they not? How were they not constantly thinking about the distance between us?
I suddenly didn’t want to be there anymore, I felt like I was putting my toddler at risk even when he was completely oblivious to what was happening.
I ended our outing way sooner than I wanted to. I bribed my son with the promise of some TV and cookies when we got home, hurried to the car and drove off. At the entrance of the beach, there was a long line of cars waiting to pay their fee to enjoy a lovely pre-summer day. I was jealous that they could do that since I clearly couldn’t.
We are back to just playing in the backyard and my online shopping for outdoor activities has taken over our finances. I just don’t know when I will feel comfortable going out again. The one thing I wanted to do weeks ago now makes me hyperventilate.
Am I being overly cautious? Maybe.
Will I get over it? Hopefully.
All I know right now is that as I start seeing my Instagram fill with posts and stories of people being out and about, the only thing I want to do is to stay home with my family.
And that is something I never expected to say after a long quarantine.