Stuck in the Middle of COVID

My thoughts on post quarantine life.

America is at a crucial point in time right now. A lot has happened in this last year. With CORONA VIRUS stopping the world in its tracks, my life was completely changed. Quarantine was only about two months long, it felt like we were frozen in time. Now six months later I have had to deal with the fact that life will never be normal again. COVID cases are on the rise globally again, I feel as if we’re in a quarantine purgatory. I feel that I am wondering though life waiting for some type of instruction. Our representatives have opened up states but the moral conflict is still there. For the past few months I’ve been carrying a feeling of guilt inside of myself. I understand the severity of this virus, however I struggle with trying to provide a full life for my three year old son, James. So let’s go back to the beginning. 

I remember being in the early stages of coronavirus, I was visiting one of my best friends in Columbus. I kept hearing whispers about European cities all closing their borders and Italy being near quarantine. At the time the virus was not relevant nor threatening here in Ohio yet. We ate at a restaurant without dividers or masks. We went to the bar–guilt free because I knew we’d Uber back and not drink and drive. I danced, held close conversations and even laughed out loud in public. I drove home the next day without a care in the world, not knowing that I wouldn’t be comfortable in public like that in a long time. It’s funny the little things we take for granted right?

Ohio locked its doors in the middle of March 2020 (a few weeks after my solo road trip). To be honest I never thought we, as the united states, would shut down. Capitalism is the name of the game here and when the BIG 3 car companies shut their doors I knew something was wrong. At first quarantine wasn’t all that bad. See, for our family, the three of us hadn’t had that quality time together since James was a few weeks old. True, it was hard. With everything, including the parks, being closed it was a challenge to keep James entertained. After a few weeks we found ways for all of us to coexist in our little 3 bedroom. 

April flew by and before we knew it, Summer would be approaching. Around then I started to worry about James not getting the social interaction that he was so used to. Pre quarantine we spend our mornings at the Library for story time, head to the park in the afternoon or spend the weekend doing family fun activities. I worried he’d forget social cues and become withdrawn in public after this. James and I are very alike in the fact that we both are very social humans. However we spent so much family time together playing and learning that I really hope that’s what James remembers from all this. Plus wine with Dewine at 2pm sharp made the days breeze by.  Before we knew it we had spent the whole spring in quarantine and the Lewandowskis were itching for summer. In the middle of May I went back to work. 

I really think that this helped my mental state. Going back to work made me feel like I was contributing to the community again and also got me out the house. I also felt good about the bond that James and my husband were developing, being in their own little quarantine. The summer months bleeded together and we tried to pick up the pieces. Slowly but surely the numbers began dipping. And just like that States started opening their doors. Ohio first gave the green light to major factories and businesses. Things like hair salons and gyms were also open. While I was on a good streak with going to the gym, I was definitely a little hesitant to go the first few weeks it was open.

One of the big pushes to start reopening America was the fear of our economy failing. A lot of people thought that if we kept staying home and not stimulating the economy we would push ourselves into another recession. Now I’m not an economic genius (I’m not even that good at math) but what I did know was that online shopping was at an all time high. When it became apparent that COVID was going anywhere, masks became mandatory. This is another subject that I would never thought would be so controversial. As some people see wearing a mask in public as a way of controlling the population or “taking away first amendment rights”, I see no harm in wearing masks in public. Summer was coming to end and with half of the United States still in quarantine, one of the big questions was how were the children supposed to go back to school?

We had planned on putting James in pre school this fall but with the thought of him possibly having to wear a mask the whole time he was there freaked me out. Thankfully James is so young we didn’t have to think twice about the school decision.  We didn’t take James out in public until about July, after the official quarantine was over. We made a family Kroger trip and he was extremely excited. He didn’t complain about his mask at all and never does. I think he’s just so excited to be around people again that he doesn’t mind it.

COVID numbers are climbing but I feel torn between keeping James in a little bubble and letting him live his life full of experiences. I remember fighting with myself once the zoo opened up wondering if it would be safe for James to get back out. I kept feeling so guilty for keeping him away but I was so unsure. I also didn’t want people to judge me. More people have gotten really confident with vocalizing their opinions of you via keyboard. While there were extremists that would never wear a mask in public, there were also people on the other side of the spectrum. There are people who, even with Ohio being completely open, are still in their own quarantine. I understand why people would feel this way. Millions of people in the United States have pre existing conditions which makes this virus deadly for them. I wear my mask for the elders and our small children. I’ve heard several different opinions on wearing a mask or not. There are some people who believe that one day we will wake up and suddenly COVID will be over. To some it might seem that way. I however know that things like this take time. We will overcome this Virus but we need to be patient and let it run its course. 

Recently,I started seeing more and more hate towards people who wanted to go out and live their life. I often listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos and I started hearing PSAs turn into full attacks on people’s character. It went from MASK UP to “wow you  are still…..in a pandemic” I would so wish for us to be back in our little quarantine, I also know this is not our reality. Our reality is business as usual. Most Americans are back to work and most businesses are open. I started feeling this kind of second hand guilt. 

For example, one of the ways I like to have some me time is the gym. While the rules are you have to wear a mask when entering the building you do not necessarily have to wear one while you work out. You are required to wipe everything down as well. While I followed all the directions I still felt weird. Was I endangering the people around me because I didn’t wear a mask while I worked out? What was the difference between wearing a mask while in the aisle and at the machines/treadmill. Over the fall season I went to a wedding. We completely followed all of the social distancing rules. Okay, I might have broken the no drinks on the dance floor rule once… or twice. However my husband and I were in good health so we wore our masks, kept our distance, and had a great time. (also I wish my friend and her wife the best because they deserve nothing but an amazing life together (: ILYSM).

Eventually I became more comfortable with the new rules in place. I’m not a scientist nor do I know someone personally that has gotten COVID. This could be the reason I’m so comfortable out in public. I’ve been pushed to try and pick up the pieces. I started taking trips to the target for no reason, just to zone out and kill some time. We even went on a vacation for my birthday. I know the pandemic is still very strong but I just can’t stare at four walls all day. 

I work five days a week and I feel that I should be able to enjoy my few days off. I should be able to take my child to the playground on Saturday and not worry about people giving me dirty looks because I’m not wearing a mask outside. Where do we draw the line? How can I do my duty as a citizen while still keeping my family happy? I have chosen the latter. I have chosen my family’s happiness over social issues. While I am mostly a homebody by nature, I have decided that my one Friday off will be spent at the pumpkin patch, or the park.  

I understand that we are at a crossroads of American history. This pandemic has killed 1200 people in the US alone. This is why I wear my mask. I follow all of the rules that Governor DeWine has set in place. I also find time for my family on the weekends. This is what makes my family happy and whole. Why should I feel bad for that? Post COVID is very hard to think about. I think what makes it so hard, for me at least, is that my life is one giant routine. I’m not ashamed to say that. I look forward to the changing seasons, the holidays I know will come. This is probably why I love my normal 9 to 5 job. I believe this is another reason post quarantine life has become a little tiring. We are constantly being threatened by another shut down. I don’t believe we should be punished like teenagers who stayed out past curfew. Our public leaders should either shut us completely down, or open the doors wide. I don’t think it’s fair for us citizens who do follow all of the policies. I am so worn out from this pandemic and I think the hardest part is the realization that we could spend a few years in this pandemic purgatory.

One day we will get through this, I just hope we all make it out the other side, kinder and wiser. If this quarantine taught me anything it was to appreciate the little things. Little things like, drinking a coffee while krogering. Or the way James smiles as he does something brave at the park.

Stay safe and stay kind mommas,

-Alexis

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