I was reading over my columns for the past few months, and was marveling at the fact that, while my January and February articles were pandemic-focused (like almost all of last year’s), I actually wrote about other things in March and April! I read an article recently that argued there wouldn’t be a “stop” to the pandemic — a particular day on which we’d all be free of this scourge — but that it would be a gradual process. Like, one day you’d realize that it’s been over, or in the process of being over, for a while. The fact that I found other things to write about for the last two months is, I think, one of those things — a part of the process of the pandemic ending in our part of the world.
In fact, my life these days is a definite mixture of Pandemic and Before Times (which I guess are technically After Times). My big boys played Fall sports in March and April, which was thrilling — watching them run Cross Country is one of my very favorite things.
They were all on the same team, which made my chauffeuring duties pretty easy, but now they’re playing baseball and they’re not on the same team, and each night as I drag myself to bed earlier than usual, I’m remembering how exhausting spring has always been with all the baseball teams and practices and games and who needs to be where when (usually at the exact same time that another boy has to be at his field across town). Since we didn’t do our normal spring stuff last year, I’d forgotten a little how intense it can be.
In February I wrote about how sorry I am that my youngest especially has missed out on seeing some of the people that have always been a part of my daily motherhood — our friends at the grocery stores and the Triangle Diner particularly — but since then, I’ve actually felt comfortable enough to bring him to the store with me a few times! And my mom and I are planning a diner date very soon.
At the same time that these marks of “normalcy” are back in our lives, though, the pandemic is clearly still with us. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever be able to remember without crying how it prevented one of my boys from running in the Cross Country League Championship. I know such a thing is small potatoes compared to the loss of life and other horrors of the last year both locally and globally, and my son himself has a better sense of perspective about the whole thing than I do, but the toll all this has taken on young people is heartbreaking to me. I had to buy new masks recently, as the slow losing of them in backpacks and in the wash finally caught up with us. I was really hoping that the last bunch I bought was, in fact, the last — that the end of masking would come before I had to buy more — but no. The fact that it’s spring allergy season and allergy symptoms are similar to COVID symptoms adds an interesting layer of nervousness to daily life. And the hold this horrible virus currently has in India is a stark reminder that the pandemic is not over and that suffering and death continue.
I heard on the radio recently some tips about easing back into normal life, because some people are experiencing anxiety now that things are opening back up. I saw that some (many?) vaccination sites are no longer requiring appointments — you can just show up. I was able to attend my boys’ Cross Country meets in large part because my husband was still working from home so I could leave some of the kids with him, but now he’s back to work at the office so attending the baseball games isn’t as easy. I check the COVID stats for Saratoga County every morning and have been watching the number of positive cases decrease and plateau and decrease again since the peak back in the winter. This time is such a mix of good news and bad news, cautious optimism and frustrating setbacks, things getting easier and things getting harder, but it all seems to be heading in the right direction.
A history professor I know said that he recommends reading diaries and journals from times of plague and epidemics to see how it affected the daily life of regular people — I think of this column that way, both Before, when it was a record of motherhood in Saratoga Springs in the first part of the twenty-first century, and now, when it’s a record of motherhood in Saratoga Springs during the COVID pandemic. I imagine one day someone will read this account of life here, now, and have hope that time marches on and bad things eventually end.