Looking back at the life we had, one year later
Published: February 26, 2021
By: Jennifer Jhon
Remember in the good old days, aka early 2020, when we were blissfully unaware of the coming quarantine?
I had planned a trip with the kids to Disney World for Spring Break, splurging to stay on property and snagging FastPasses to the most popular rides. We were finally going to Join the Resistance at the new Star Wars-themed land. My 19-year-old nephew, a huge Star Wars fan, even planned to fly in from New Mexico to join us.
He arrived March 13 — the same day Broward Schools announced they were closing because of COVID. That day is forever seared in my memory — life before March 13, 2020, and life after.
In those first few days, we were glued to the television as everything closed. (Disney shut its doors several days later, on March 16, and refunded me for the vacation that never happened.) It almost felt like preparing for a hurricane.
At the time, although the virus was scary, it was fun to stay home with the family. We didn’t even have school the first two weeks, so we played a lot of games and rode our bikes and remained innocent of the struggle ahead: online schooling.
We naively thought quarantine was temporary. We wondered if summer camps would open. We looked forward to the fall when school would resume and we’d get our lives back.
But we were so wrong.
Now a year later, my life is forever changed. I still shop alone, masked and 6 feet distant, getting in and out of the store with my list and maybe a few extra cookies on the way out the door.
My son’s city-league soccer season was canceled, crushing his hopes of returning to Coach Mike and his undefeated team, and wiping out a Saturday morning family tradition that had been going strong for four years.
We all miss our friends. Although some families are getting out more, many others are “staying home and staying safe,” especially with the virus variants showing up in South Florida. So playdates are still far and few between, and usually outdoors, which is going to be less enjoyable as we move into the heat of summer.
My work-life balance is a thing of the past. As I sit in front of the computer far past 5 p.m., making up time at work that I spent shepherding the kids through their online classes, the kids are playing too many video games and sneaking too many fruit cups out of the pantry. And after they go to bed, it’s time to dive into the freelance work I’ve taken on to fill the financial gap created by reduced hours at my job.
But all is not lost. We still hold out hope that if the vaccine is distributed widely enough by May — and we can secure the shots for my 78-year-old mother, who lives with us — summer camp might be an option this year.
We’re considering another attempt at a theme park vacation in Orlando, or a camping trip to the springs in the center of the state.
And maybe by the fall, the kids will be able to resume a normal school year, complete with clubs and school dances and graduations.
I don’t believe we’ll ever return to the life we had pre-COVID. Not only has society changed from the pandemic, but we have, too.
Jennifer Jhon is South Florida Family Life’s digital and social media editor. She is planning to catch up on sleep once summer starts.