This was a fairly normal weekend. Kid activities. A long run. A family trip to Longwood Gardens to walk through the luminary display. We had tickets to go ice skating, but the skating session was canceled due to rain. We wound up going to our new house instead (where the big kids played pool on the pool table we bought from the previous owner, we looked through some old house plans, and the toddler, well, toddled everywhere). I started a new puzzle.
As the calendar turned to March, it has me thinking about March a year ago. I have been on and off with journal writing over the past three decades (yes, starting at age 12), but I wrote fairly regularly during Kid #5’s first few months as I was trying to remember things. And so I recorded the details of his sleeping (those weeks when it seemed to be getting better from the newborn days!) and then the news turning so dark. It was about a year ago that we had our last normal weekends and weeks with kid activities. There was a middle school musical. Early morning school choir rehearsals. Prepping to get the baby’s passport (which, surprise, we’ve never used…). I sang a concert of very challenging French music with my choir. My husband and I went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant, not knowing we would not eat out again for many months.
As things started getting canceled, as borders and schools closed, as lockdowns went into effect, I wrote in my journal about all this. I have been re-reading these entries now. I mentioned that I was sorry I had read Station Eleven recently. I thought, judging by whatever statistics China was reporting, that the disease itself would be less scary for younger people than the potential breakdown in civil society (which is what happened in Station Eleven…though the Georgia Flu was also 90 percent fatal, so there’s that). Would the grocery supply chain hold up? I wrote of my elation when my husband managed to shop at Wegmans and actually get a lot of the things we needed. Our nanny had previously stockpiled a lot of canned beans and vegetables in our pantry.
A year later, we still have that supply of canned beans and vegetables. I wrote that all of this had to end at some point. We had to emerge on the other side. I had travel plans in April and May, but surely this would all be over by then, right? I didn’t know that the grocery supplies would hold up pretty well, always offering up food that was more palatable than those canned green beans, which is why we never ate them, but a year later my older kids still wouldn’t be back in school full time. As millions of jobs disappeared, I wrote how thankful I was that we could both work from home. I didn’t know that a year later I’d still be eating lunch on many weekdays with my husband, who would convert the guest room into his full-time office.
One of the upsides of a journal is that you write down details that don’t necessarily make it into the history books. For instance, the second week of March was absolutely gorgeous. Spring really accelerated out of February last year, and the temperatures here were in the 70s. That pushed all the buds to blossom. So I wrote of sitting on the porch, holding or nursing the baby, soaking up the flowers, and reading headlines about the world falling apart. It was a strange juxtaposition. At least the kids could play outside all day when the schools closed and no one had yet figured out how distance learning would work. I wrote about my homeschool schedules (remember those?)
A year ago, I wrote in my journal that “my goal is for the kids to look back and think this was an adventure.” I am not sure if they’d feel this way, though I don’t think they’ve had too terrible a time of it. Certainly, we’ve been so much more fortunate than many. We’re all healthy, so far at least. They can play with each other. They’ve enjoyed spending more time with their father, almost to the point of ridiculousness. The other night my husband had to do a video call that absolutely, positively could not be interrupted, so he left the house to do it, and as I was putting everyone to bed, child after child said “wait, where’s Daddy?” They were flummoxed by his disappearance, I guess not remembering that on an average Tuesday a year ago, this would have been normal.
Some things are returning to normal. My mother-in-law is vaccinated. My parents have an appointment for their second vaccine. The baby was supposed to be baptized on March 15, 2020, and this was canceled. It is now rescheduled for an outdoor ceremony in late March. His little white baby baptism outfit doesn’t fit, but he’ll wear something else than he would have a year ago and it will happen, just on a very different timeline than I suspected as I wrote, last March, of those weeks where everything changed.
Photo: Longwood Gardens luminaries