Saturday, May 9, 2020

Returning to a New Normal

Well here we are day 64 for my husband, day 56 for my children and day 49 for me. Tomorrow will be 50 days for me and my last day as well. Monday I return to work. As an Early Childcare Teacher I was essential from day one. However as numbers dropped quickly we found ourselves furloughed. Now as things in our area are starting to open back up, and our numbers are going back up a bit we are headed back to reopen our classrooms which have sat vacant since early March.
To say I am not nervous would be wrong, to say I am not happy would also be wrong. I am overjoyed to be returning to any sort of normalcy and order but also terrified that I am putting myself and my family at risk. In the 49 days I have been quarantined my family has left our house (not counting picking up the weekly food drop offs from the school) a total of 5 times, 3 for grocery shopping and 2 times for home supplies. The idea of only leaving the house an average of less than 1 time per week is such a foreign concept or at least it used to be. Now we will be coming and going 2 times a day, 5 days a week. I also will be returning to a very different work environment than I left. Constant sterilization, hand washing (even more so than normal which is a lot in a childcare setting), and mask wearing. This will be the new normal.
I have been watching what life is like now in China and Italy. They are further along in opening their countries back up but it is far from a return to what life once was. This is a new way of schooling, a new way of living. Come September, we still do not actually know if our children will be heading off to school and if they are, what will that look like?
Today we were cleaning out the front storage closet and I found both their backpacks, still mostly brand new from only a few months use. They were still full of folders and papers from March. I guess we had been thinking that they would be returning to school in a few weeks so we never cleaned them out. A few weeks turned into the rest of the year. My children along with every school child in the State and most of the Country only got to have a half school year. So I cleaned out their backpacks sadly and packed them away for the Fall, thinking inside that they may not need them if they don't return to school at all.
But that is just it, we do not know from one day to the next what life will be like. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. We never did, but we at least had a good guess. Now though every day is a new normal and then as soon as we adjust, it changes again. So I am returning to work understanding that it is not a step back into my old life, but a step into the unknown. It will be new and maybe a little scary but we all must brave this world together and do all we can to protect those most vulnerable among us. So as this Country slowly begins to open back up, be safe. Wear a mask, stay 6 ft apart, and be extra aware of those around you. Check in on your neighbors, and loved ones. Let's make sure the new normal is a better world than what we left behind.

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