Three weeks ago, in The Stories That Don’t Make Headlines, I shared an old college friend’s visit to a California ER during the time of COVID-19.
Then in Tell Me About Yourself: When Family Planning Is Put on Hold, I told you the story of another friend’s delayed fertility treatment due to the growth of the pandemic in the New York City area where she lives.
Since then, I reached out to my friend who lives in Iowa. I was curious to learn how much her life has changed as someone who resides in a small Midwestern town, which is nowhere near any current epicenter of the Coronavirus.
Unlike the first two people I mentioned, she has noticed more benefits in her life since this pandemic started. She is well aware of how this is different from many other people’s stories and is upfront about that fact.
Since she told me how her life has become more convenient, I have heard from other friends who have made similar comments. Of course, nobody wants this virus to continue; however, several have confided in me that their forced lifestyle changes due to the pandemic have compelled them to reevaluate how they approached their life prior to COVID-19 and how they want to seize each day moving forward.
How has the Coronavirus made you reevaluate your life?
This Q&A has been edited for clarity.
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom of two toddlers in Iowa. My husband works for a defense contractor company and travels most of the year.
What was your life like before the pandemic? What is your life like now during the pandemic?
My pre-pandemic and pandemic lives aren’t that different.
My husband is still away traveling for work.
I’m still home with two toddlers. I am just not shuttling them to preschool and extracurriculars anymore. Now we can sleep in until whenever we want.
I don’t have to worry about the fact that I haven’t lost any of my baby weight and that I have trouble squeezing into non-sweats.
In a strange way, the pandemic has made my life easier. The things I want are more accessible to me now.
Restaurants and grocers that I loved—but didn’t deliver—now deliver.
I finally got that nudge I needed to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
My neighbors are home more. Their families, who typically live in urban areas, have come to stay with them. Everyone is really understanding and kind when chitchatting from yard to yard.
Since my husband and I have two children and I’m staying home, the government is sending us money. If I were still working, we would have been over the maximum income for that.
I told my husband to stay with his clients on his current project. He had the option of coming home, so his company is offering him a bonus to for going above and beyond with his work.
I feel this weird almost “survivor’s guilt.” All over the news, I’m hearing these horror stories. Even in my own family, I know of at least two cousins that were furloughed.
What have you learned through this experience?
I’ve learned from this experience that I have the strength to to take action and adapt to unpredictable circumstances. I know of others struggling because they want everything exactly a certain way and refuse to accept change, but I’ve figured out ways to adapt.
If the grocery stores are out of things and it’s risky to be around people, join a CSA or buddy up with the store owner with local dairy farm connections.
If playgrounds are closed and gymnastics is canceled, put up a swing set in the backyard.
If days are becoming monotonous, start raising chickens, make bath bombs, read the public radio book club selection, and get back into old hobbies.
What do you hope to experience in the future?
I hope that people use this as an opportunity to have more empathy and be less rigid.
We’re all in this together and we have to be adaptable. If we’re clear on our goals, we can be flexible in how we accomplish them.
What action steps do you think you can take now?
As far as action—I am joining a CSA, utilizing local businesses, having a more green household in general, and reducing reliance on disposable paper products. We already had a bidet. Now I ordered reusable paper towels, a.k.a. unpaper towels or paperless towels, on Etsy.
I am being conscious of neighbors and family by figuring out ways to be of help—whether it be picking up things when ordering groceries, making masks, or just being a good, considerate neighbor. I hope this consideration (and honestly these delivery services) continue in the future. It’s good to see people pause and be with family and stop all this busyness for the sake of busyness. Time for reflection and taking care of home is good.
I hope that in the future people will have regained their humanity, will have realized they aren’t their jobs or status, and will have learned from this how interconnected we are and how we need to look after everyone in our communities—which are bigger than we think.
I feel like an overprivileged jerk these days. So many people are suffering. Eventually, we will too, but we aren’t right now. I’m grateful for that, but embarrassed to admit it.