I have washed approximately 980 plates since the coronavirus upended our lives. No joke. I just did the math. If you round that, it’s practically 1,000. Yeah, I know all about rounding because as my 4th grader’s stand-in teacher, I’ve got it all figured out. Like, “Ahh! for the 245th time, 32 is closer to 30!” figured out. I’m a 4th grade rounding expert. And if you include silverware, bowls, pots, pans and cups, let’s just say we’re stacking up into the trillions.
And another thing. For some crazy reason these five other people sharing my house think that they need to eat food every 4 to 6 hours. As the house chef, let me tell you. That, my friends, is a lot of well-rounded meals that don’t just dream up themselves. I’ve made one grocery store run in the past four weeks and thought of at least 13 new uses for refried beans. It’s not like we really ever ate out to begin with, but every single meal at home? No school hot lunch or catered meals at work? The meal planning part of my brain is starting to turn to mush.
Being quarantined certainly has created some new challenges and ways of life. Like getting creative with what to do when you run out of floss (apparently toilet paper wasn’t the only item in high demand), figuring out how to zoom a piano lesson (who even knew what zoom was before all this anyway??), and humbly accepting that your 6th grader can navigate the computer about 2 million times better than you.
I know the past month has been devastating for many. My heart and prayers go out to those people. No matter how and to what degree you’ve been affected, I think we can all agree that when life goes back to normal, normal might not be the same again. And while there’s so many aspects of that to regret, I can’t help but hope that we will come out of this with a new perspective and a stronger sense of what really matters most. For me, this past month hasn’t just been making endless meals or doing stacks of dishes or using every trick known to humankind to get my kids to understand math that I can hardly remember myself. It hasn’t just been about suppressing an overwhelming desire to take a bat to the computer screen because getting that stupid thing to cooperate with our “online learning” is currently the bane my existence. For us it’s also been about game nights and jumping on the trampoline, about snowball fights in the middle of the day with Dad, about eating breakfast together and not being in a hurry to get out the door. It’s been about building faith and strengthening family bonds.
In many ways I am looking forward to life going back to before. But when life returns to how it was, I hope our new normal will be a little less rushed.
I hope it includes a few more books read curled up on the couch.
Lunch breaks filled with building snowmen with our kids.
Connecting. Even when it’s hard. Especially when hard.
Living in the moment.
Little hands that help to chop up the carrots for dinner.
Bedtime stories late into the night.
Game nights and popcorn and laughter.
Long days outside.
Goodies left on a neighbor’s porch.
More awe and gratitude for those that work tirelessly for our safety, our health, and our children’s education.
Prayers that are a little more sincere.
Compassion that is felt a little deeper.
And happiness for what we have, who we have, and what we have to give.
A little more frugality.
A little more home.
A little more mindfulness.
A little more simplicity.
A little more kindness.
This month has been surreal. Surreal because of all that has changed so quickly, all that we’ve given up, all the chaos going on around us. But also wonderful in so, so many ways. Being forced to slow down, to be with family, to put life on hold, and to take a look at what really matters has been a huge blessing to me. As strange as it’s been, I don’t want what we’ve gained from all this loss to go away. So when this is all over, my goal is to not let things just go back to how they were. Let’s try a little harder to be a little better. Let’s remember what we’ve learned, and let’s not let the rush of life get in the way of those things that truly matter most.
“It is often in the trial of adversity that we learn the most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf
To be completely honest, I even hope my new normal includes a few more meals to dream up, a few less grocery store runs, more refried beans, and plenty of dishes piled in the sink.