REFLECTING ON ONE YEAR OF THE PANDEMIC

Isn’t it crazy to think it’s been a full year since the word “Covid” first made its way into our collective daily vocabulary? This time last year, my parents were still at A Better Chance and March 12, the day the students were sent home for the rest of the spring semester, will always feel like the official start of the pandemic in my mind. Teddy was 5.5 months old — at five months, he had tagged along on a work trip to Florida; by six months, all routines had gone out the window with Will and my brother Camden suddenly working out of our house. I remember thinking at the time that it would only be a week or two, then maybe a month or two, but somehow we’ve made it all the way to twelve months without a totally clear picture of what the “end” will look like.

As a family, we have so much to be thankful for. Our renovation last spring was able to carry on largely uninterrupted, which enabled my parents and my brother Grayson to move in with us in June. Where so many experienced profound loneliness this past year, our cup runneth over with the majority of my immediate family under one roof and lots of helpful hands around as Teddy went from a tiny baby taking his first bites of purée to a busy toddler who rarely sits still for more than 60 seconds at a time. We were able to get tested and move the entire crew (plus my cousin, her husband, and their baby boy!) up to Nantucket for the summer, a change of scenery I don’t think any of us will take for granted again anytime soon. We’ve taken it easy and binge watched what feels like a million shows together, we’ve had spurts of productivity tackling various projects around the house, and we’ve spent more quality time as a family than we have probably since the year I left for college.

My mom’s days have involved copious contact tracing and now helping vaccinate teachers in her school. My dad has become a whiz at planning lessons for remote learning. My husband and one of my brothers have adapted their work days around Zoom calls instead of meetings and conferences. My other brother landed a three-month opportunity that let him return to work in a socially distanced setting. My work with brands has bounced back from a complete standstill last spring and I’ve pivoted from writing mostly about clothing and travel to sharing more about our home and connecting with many of you over the ups and downs of new motherhood. In the past month, both my parents and Will’s parents all got vaccinated and my Grandy received her first shot. No one in my immediate family has gotten Covid and I’m beyond grateful that we’ve had the privilege to take all the precautions we have in order to keep each other safe. We have a new baby joining our family in less than two months, a prospect that’s given me lots to busy myself with and much to look forward to, even knowing we won’t be able to have all our family visit the hospital as soon as he’s born. And having Will work from home — someone who used to be on a 6 a.m. train into the city and get home around 8:30 p.m. — has been nothing short of life-changing. This unexpected windfall of time he’s gotten with Teddy over the past year has been hands down the biggest silver lining in this chapter of our lives. When I write everything out like this, I feel guilty even admitting that we’ve struggled at all. And then when I think about everyone who’s lost a loved one, everyone who’s gotten sick themselves, the doctors and nurses on the front lines, teachers having to learn entirely new methods of connecting with their students, new moms giving birth and taking on their fourth trimester without the in-person support of family and friends, parents taking on remote learning for school-aged children while holding down their own jobs, the myriad employees who didn’t have the luxury of being able to work from home these past twelve months… There are so many people whose sacrifice and resilience over the past year just move me to tears.

The truth is that whatever your personal circumstances have been, this year hasn’t been easy for anyone I know. We lost both of Will’s beloved grandparents to Covid-related complications. We haven’t seen Grandy in person since Teddy was born, a fact that makes me cry if I dwell on it too long. We’ve seen Will’s parents much less than we would have in pre-pandemic times, which has been hard with Teddy growing up so much and now a new baby on the way. I haven’t hugged my sister or her partner in over a year. While I’m grateful that our house could take in most of my family, there were admittedly days where I would have given anything for a few hours of total peace and quiet either inside or outside the house. We’ve lost sleep over health scares, job uncertainty, adding post-weaning depression to the mix, wondering how so many months at home will impact Teddy’s social skills whenever it finally feels safe for him to participate in activities outside the house. We have loved ones who’ve experienced job loss, who’ve left the tristate area in search of new opportunities elsewhere. I think the environment of everyone being stuck at home and getting most of their social interactions through a screen contributed to increased vitriol on social media, and I’ve had moments where I questioned how much longer I wanted to keep going in this space I’ve spent the last decade working to be a part of. Not to mention the things we’ve all given up: the missed birthday parties, weddings, holiday celebrations, and weekend outings that we’d often taken for granted before this year. I’ve had days (weeks!) where I felt like a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad daughter, a bad sister, a bad friend, a bad blogger, etc. I guess I’m not sure I know anyone who can look back and say, “wow, what an awesome year I had!” For most of us, I think it was a year of surviving, not thriving — a year of learning to take things day by day, remembering to count our blessings, trying to focus on the things we could control, and mourning the things we could not.

I’m not sure how exactly to wrap up this post, but it felt necessary to at least try and write something to acknowledge the roses and thorns of this truly unprecedented year. I have days where I feel tremendous hope, days where I feel all-consuming anxiety, and days where I honestly don’t feel much at all. I know I have so much to be grateful for and deep down I know we all have brighter days on the horizon, but I also wanted to offer solidarity to anyone who’s struggling right now and share a reminder that we’re all in this together, no matter how long it takes to get through to whatever new normal awaits us on the other side. In the mean time, know that I’m sending each and every one of you the healthiest, happiest, most hopeful vibes I can muster as we all keep on keepin’ on. xx

18 thoughts on “REFLECTING ON ONE YEAR OF THE PANDEMIC

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  1. Thank you so much for this lovely, and well written summary of what has been such a challenging and emotional time for many of us. My husband of 35 years died, unexpectedly, last March 26th, just as the pandemic was beginning to take hold. I miss him so much. I have a pre-existing condition and auto-immune disease so the two weeks from the time he entered the hospital and then Hospice care before he died, were sad and frustrating because I was told not to visit hm. (I did, but it was worrisome) This is the first time my life that I have lived alone and in a way, it has proven that I am pretty resilient and resourceful and for that I am extremely grateful. I have read more great books in the past year than forever. I am from Boston and winter in Florida (where I am now) and the fact that I have an adorable, but naughty, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, forces me to be outside four or five times a day walking him. My four children and three stepchildren and seventeen grandchildren have been so terrific staying in touch and my sister and her husband are close by, but not too close (ha ha !!!) here in Florida. Two of my grandchildren have become engaged to be married in the past couple of months, and another grandchild and his girlfriend have just put an offer in on a house in Rhode Island, so life DOES go on. I truly miss all our wonderful family get togethers and fun !!!! But, all in all, I have enormous gratitude to FINALLY have gotten my second shot last week, (it has been a nightmare here in this part of Florida) and my outlook is good. I think many of us never realized the inner resources we seem to bring to the forefront when such a crisis comes. I am wishing you all the best with your second baby, and hope you all get to Nantucket this summer. xoxo

  2. Mackenzie,
    You are a truly talented writer and I hope you continue your blog as long as it makes you happy.
    I, too, feel guilty over how this year has gone. My husband now works from home and we moved into my in laws guesthouse so I had/have plenty of help with childcare. But I also feel guilty over wanting complete silence when I know so many have TOO MUCH silence.
    You are not alone with all the conflicting feelings this year has brought. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you for such a beautiful and real post. Your care for others, shows such a compassionate and kind heart. In a year full of so much anxiety, I have enjoyed following along with your blog. Thank you so much for keeping on!

  4. This was a tear jerker. So beautifully put and said. So true, no one will walk away from this without a scar of some kind. What a year.
    I was lucky I had just retired from the USPS. I got to stay home through it all and, all the snow and blizzards.

  5. Your heartfelt message to your followers is so appreciated. We’re in a similar boat with a grandson being born in Connecticut about 2 months after Teddy and a new grandson being born last September. Due to some complicated postpartum issues that my daughter experienced we found ourselves caring for a 3 yr old and the new baby. Covid has been difficult for everyone indeed,but hopefully we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stay well and keep us posted as baby number two enters your lives. Much love, and as always , thank you for being the remarkable young woman you are.

  6. I feel you managed sharing your truth and recognising your privilege really well in this post. It’s honest and compassionate.

    I am so exhausted today. Last week I vomited between work calls with the stress. COVID has not been good for my chronic illnesses! But I can appreciate time away from my life to visit yours.

  7. Thank you so much for this! While I’ve always enjoyed your blog, in the midst of such a crazy year, I’ve really appreciated how “real” you’ve been in acknowledging everything that’s going on. Your honesty is very refreshing and makes me feel like I”m reading a post by a best friend, not a stranger on the internet! 🙂 As a mom of a boy around Teddy’s age, I appreciate all the personal posts you’ve had in the past few years, especially about family and motherhood. Makes me feel not so alone! Hope all goes well with baby #2!

  8. This had me in tears, you put things so well and eloquently acknowledged how hard this year has been for everyone, for some so much worse than others. I like the quote that says something like “we are all in the same storm, but have very different ships”.

  9. This was a great post. I’m so sorry to hear about Will’s grandparents – that’s just awful. It really has been a year of loss and of growth, of more time with some family and less time with others. Your kids will appreciate reading this one day so they can see what things were really like with all the ups and downs.

    Unrelated, but photos on your site are loading VERYYYYYY slowly for me these days (like 4-5 minutes for all the pictures on the page to load). Not sure if that’s happening for anyone else, but figured I’d mention it.

  10. This makes me want to write a personal reflection of my own to share with my son one day. What a year it’s been! Wishing you a smooth home stretch before baby!

  11. Thank you for the honest and raw emotions in this post! I have loved your blog for years and years and one of my favorite aspects is how similar I feel to you. This post made me feel a hug through my screen because my year has been much of this as well! So much sadness and guilt for not feeling as happy about my situation when it could be so much worse. Thank you for acknowledging your hard times without discounting the hard times of others. This was an incredibly well done way of acknowledging the year as a whole for everyone and it was refreshing to not feel an ounce of Covid judgement or “whoa is me” in regards to how you and your family have spent then last year vs what others have done. This is a rambling comment but thank you! <3

  12. These are my favorite posts of yours, Mackenzie. Where you sit down, dive deep, and share what’s on your heart. It always leads to me as a reader seeing a welcome sight behind the beauty of the photos you share.