A Year Into The Pandemic

Dear children, 

One day I will have to tell you about my thoughts during the year we spent in the pandemic, about these strange times, where I felt confused and lightheaded, unable to see clearly where we were headed, but at the same time, feeling peaceful as I embraced my newfound ability to surrender to a power bigger than myself, and stayed grounded as much as I could.

About this time last year, everyone were encouraged to stay in their homes. Schools have been dismissed and for the first time, we heard the phrase “School From Home” as we learned to gather the strength and the courage to actually get through it (because honestly, it was no joke!) The technicalities of operating the virtual learning platforms worked us to our bones, and the workload actually driven you and me into anxiety. But we told ourselves that everyone were just as confused as we were, and strangely, that made us feel a little better. 

The world didn’t seem too big anymore. Everyone across the globe was doing the exact same things we were.
They hadn’t left their homes except for the 10-minutes short walk in the morning around their yards or to quickly shop for groceries, just like we did.
They worked from home, learned from home, shopped from home, just like we did.
They learned to cut each other’s hair and ended up with less than ideal #QuarantineHaircut, just like we did.
They glued their butts the chairs at the corner of their home they called their “work stations” or to their couches, and their eyes glued to their gadgets, just like we did.
And they probably have watched more movies than they have in their entire lifetime – just like we did. 
They were trying to make sense of this new normal – trying to adjust, trying to keep relationships alive through technology, trying to be… just like we did. 

There were no more segregations; no specific cultural ways of doing things anymore. There was just one universal way of living. 

School From Home. Uniform top and comfy shorts.

While I had enjoyed being at home immensely (and I still do actually), I found myself overwhelmed with fear a lot. It could have been due to the mundane routine and lack of something to look forward to that had caught up with me, because everyday was the same as the day before, filled with attempted positivity in the midst of bleak news of rising death toll of both people and businesses. 

Or it could have been the constant scroll through social media, which had become the primary way to stay “connected”, that had sent me in a spiral of overthinking about how I am handling myself, my family, and my responsibilities during this time, in an attempt to answer the repetitive question: do I let myself go because let’s face it, armageddon felt like it was just around the corner, and we should just indulge in everything we want to, OR should I walk out of this period of hibernation in an upgraded version of myself – stronger, fitter, leaner, with newfound ability to cook and bake? 

A year into this pandemic, and I still find it difficult to stay grounded in the face of fear. But you know what? We’re still here… and we’re still standing. And we’re living a little differently than we were last year. Today, we make intentional efforts to shift our focus from the uncertainties of the future into gratitude for the present. We are living from day to day. But we are still here. We are still standing. We are still healthy. We are still lacking nothing. We are still blessed. And when I focus on this, the face of fear becomes more and more blurry. 

I love that during this time M3 had learned to fall asleep on his own, fuss-free. We threw the strict bedtime rules out of the window almost as soon as the pandemic started and he’s probably tired every day. But I’d like to think that it’s because his tank is full from all the time he spends with us, as has free access to cuddles and hug times and that’s great. M2 picked up a new photography, reading, and drawing hobby. He’s even enrolled himself in an online photography class which he’s been really enjoying. His passion for orangutan conservation also seemed to have deepened as he’s got even more time to browse and learn. And M1, my preteen daughter, has grown leaps and bounds during this period of time. At first, it was like she had flung herself full force into a sea of youtube content, but through the many conversations we share, I met a strong, independent and opinionated person who isn’t afraid to discover herself and to plan for a future that she’d absolutely love! But above all, I am amazed by how you, my three babies, have have independently taken responsibility of their school work with minimal supervision. You are more tech-savvy than your Dad and I combined at your ages. That is bittersweet to me – sweet because I am so proud, but bitter by the truth that you might not need me for much longer now. As for your Dad and me, while we have not unlocked any new skills in particular, we feel like we are stronger in our marriage and more peaceful in spirit, as we learned to surrender and to trust God in the face of fear. We worked harder but we were also more rested than ever before.

Who knew that 2020 actually gave us the rest that we never knew that we needed?

At the start of this pandemic, I had asked myself whether I should have allowed myself to just let go or to find a better, largely improved version of myself. But you know what? It didn’t matter that you and I had lived in our oversized t-shirts and stretch pants for a year now, because, as it turned out, we have all improved anyway. We are better for it. And we can take comfort in knowing that whatever we have learned and discovered about ourselves, as individuals and as family, will stay with us and will not fade away with time. 

I don’t know the endgame to this pandemic. Perhaps we’ll return to life as we knew it, or perhaps we won’t. But I will tell you this: we will be telling the stories of these days for a long time. And every time we do, I hope we’ll raise a glass to the five of us and to something that time will never take away from us: our togetherness. 

With all my love, 

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