Then I had a mounting sense of unease as rising cases of COVID-19 caused the NBA to suspend its season, as professional conferences were cancelled, and schools began shuttering.
Then we started to feel the world shift beneath our feet as more and more aspects of "normal" life were paused. Each day brought more anxiety as the foreign word "coronavirus" began to dominate conversations. We wondered how long it would take for a vaccine to be developed – years??
Now I have the sense that we are emerging into the light. I'm weary from a hard year but also starting to feel energized by the positive news of increasing vaccinations plus having so many family members vaccinated. AND on Friday I received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine! I spent the day volunteering with HandsOn Phoenix* at the 24/7 vaccination site at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale where the Cardinals play. At the end of my shift I received the first vaccine; I'll receive the second dose on April 2. My volunteer experience was incredibly rewarding and I was in awe at the scale and efficiency of the operation. I felt very aware of the historic significance of seeing huge parking lots where football fans usually park converted to a vaccination site to combat a global pandemic. Cars continually stream in through 10 separate lanes around the clock. Staff and volunteers get everyone checked in, vaccinated, and scheduled for a second dose if needed. My job was at the second check point where I confirmed appointment numbers, checked I.D.s., and asked basic questions. People coming to get the vaccine were excited and grateful. I enjoyed chatting with and helping so many people after a year of so much isolation. I loved getting to be part of the solution after a year of anxiety and devastating loss.
Then a friend at the park after school said that stores were out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. At book club that night we talked about this coronavirus thing that sounded scary but hopefully irrelevant to our lives. I stopped at the store on the way home and the empty shelves of Clorox wipes and toilet paper felt eerie. Maybe it wouldn't be irrelevant after all.
Now we go to the grocery store with a mask on but it feels nearly normal. We can find everything we need on our list.
Then the boys were on spring break but as we went to the park, to restaurants, and to a trampoline park I began to wonder, "Is this safe to do?" Towards the end of spring break we received the email we knew was coming: school would be closed for at least two weeks. Chris and I knew it would mean school was closed for the rest of the semester.
Now at the end of spring break the boys will put on their masks and go back to school on Tuesday. I'm so thankful to have the boys back at our neighborhood school full time. But activities like birthday parties and trampoline parks haven't come back to our lives.
Then I was super pregnant and thinking that Maeve could arrive any day. It became apparent that I would give birth amid a global pandemic. My weekly midwife appointments became checkups in the parking lot from my car. Because oxygen was needed for COVID-19 patients, nitrous oxide would not be available to me during labor as I had been planning. It was hard to navigate what felt like a big change so close to my due date. We were told the delivering midwife would wear a mask and face shield. I felt deeply grateful that I did not plan to deliver at a hospital where I started to hear that some women had to deliver without a birth partner present.
Now I have an almost one year old! Maeve would not arrive anywhere near her due date but when she did it was a speedy three hours. I had a wonderful water birth experience without any nitrous oxide.
Then my mom changed her travel plans and instead of just ahead of Maeve's due date flew out on March 14 so she could help with the boys. I dove into brainstorming how the heck we were going to keep the boys entertained and how we'd continue their school at home.
Now I know that online school doesn't work well for my kids. And that keeping the boys entertained through our hot summers without a pool and anywhere to go is...challenging. I'm glad we kept them home for as long as we did even though it was often hard. I'm proud of how we parented our best through a really hard situation. I'm also so glad to be on the other side of it.
Then our backyard was green and lush, surrounded by orange walls. My mom and I spent many afternoons sitting in the dappled afternoon light, discussing the latest news we had read, and fretting over what the future held.
Now our backyard is a modern, functional space, low-maintenance space which includes a studio, and has calming white walls. My parents are currently in town and we're able to talk about who's been vaccinated and when we might be able to make more travel plans.
Then I went to what would be my very last in-person Orange Theory class with Sarah who happened to be in town. Sarah texted me asking if I still felt comfortable getting together or if I would prefer to "social distance." It was the first time I'd heard that phrase. I said I still felt okay getting together and we exercised and then had breakfast together at The Coffee Shop. She shared that her kids' school had already announced it was closing.
Now I exercise on a bike at home with the Peloton app which I love but I still really miss Orange Theory. I'm so eager to go back. Chris told me, "You mention Orange Theory just about every day." Guilty, ha!
Then I went to the movie theater for what would be the last time. I saw Emma with book club girl friends. Things were starting to shut down and I felt some unease about going but wasn't sure how cautious to be. When we sat down in our seats we wiped all surfaces down with Clorox wipes one of our friends brought.
Now going out to a movie or restaurant with friends feels nearly foreign. But hopefully it will be coming back to my life in the not-to-distant future.
Then I had no idea what the year held for us but it was starting to feel ominous. My stomach was an ever-tightening knot of anxiety.
Now I'm relieved to be looking back on the year. There was joy in welcoming Maeve to our family and so much sweetness as a family of five. But there was also a lot of frustration (both within our home and with the government), exhaustion, and grief.
Now I'm looking forward to appreciating mundane normalcy as I never have before.
*For any locals who are also interested in volunteering: create an account at HandsOn Phoenix. Then follow them on social media (Instagram or Twitter). They give about a 30 minute heads up before they open more volunteer shifts and the fill up fast.