We are now more than two weeks into our new normal, with word coming down that it is most likely going to last for at least another month. A lot has happened in my own life during these past two weeks. My wife underwent surgery last week and has been recovering in bed, which means that I have been in charge of the house. I am lucky that she has been in too much pain to make it down to the kitchen to see the backlog of dirty dishes sitting in the sink though I do ensure they are done nightly! My kids have transformed into middle schoolers who actually want to be in school. My guest room has been turned into my office, my kids cleaned their rooms without being asked, and the laundry has been filled with pajamas and sweatpants. In many ways, the past two weeks have been difficult and challenging, but they have also taught me to appreciate the little things in life.
Oh, how I miss my daily thirty-minute commute to Mount Vernon. As much as I never thought I would hear my kids say that they miss school, I never thought I would say that I miss my commute. I always thought of it as a waste of time – time that could be spent with my family, at work, or doing a leisure activity. But during my fifty-step trek from my bedroom to my new office, I’ve begun to realize how much I appreciate my daily commute. It is thirty minutes that I have to myself at the beginning and end of each day. Some people say they do their best thinking in the bathroom; I do my best thinking in the car. My commute afforded me sixty minutes each day of being able to listen to the radio station of my choosing, to catch up on phone calls with friends, or just to think. While I am happy to save gas money and have that extra time with my family and for work, I will not complain about my commute when it’s back in my life.
Similar to my commute, I used to dread the almost daily text from my wife asking me to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few items needed for dinner. Errands used to be the bane of my existence. But now, I can’t even begin to explain to you how much I miss the ability to casually run errands, taking the time to stroll through the well-stocked aisles to find the best deal on the food, and chatting with friends who are there on a similar mission. Running errands now means decking myself out from head to toe in protective gear, standing in line in the rain outside of the store because the number of customers is limited, and then not being able to find anything that is on my list. I appreciate the cashiers and other clerks who need to keep these essential businesses running for us. And I cannot wait to run errands when all of this is over with.
I am lucky enough to live in a comfortable home that is bigger than what I need. I have rooms in my home that I seldom use. We have two small guest rooms that pretty much go untouched unless we have company…which is not very often. Previously, our office was my wife’s exercise room and her equipment took up so much space that, for the most part, nobody besides her ever entered the room. But not anymore. My fifth grader has made himself comfortable in the office, and even uses the treadmill for his PE exercise assignments when the weather doesn’t allow him to get outside. I have been using the guest room, and am appreciating my house in different ways. Our dining room table, which is normally only used for formal meals, now has puzzles covering it. My son cleared out his desk, which, quite honestly, until a couple of weeks ago, I had forgotten was even in his room!
Religion has always been an important part of my life. I attend services at our synagogue regularly, along with other classes that my wife drags me to. I always thought that I would be happier sleeping in on Saturday mornings instead of walking a mile and a half to our synagogue. I thought that spending the Sabbath in pajamas instead of hearing our rabbi’s sermon would be a more pleasant way to spend the day. Now that our synagogue is closed, I realize how much I appreciate the religious aspect of my life. I miss the communal services and friendships. I miss being inspired each week by the words that are spoken by my rabbi. Praying alone just isn’t the same thing as praying with your community.
My wife recently received a new outfit from Amazon. This in and of itself is nothing special, as it is an almost weekly occurrence. Getting the outfit inside the house was a very big deal, though. We left the box on the porch for twenty-four hours, then carefully opened it while wearing gloves, threw away all of the packaging, and washed the clothes in warm water.
Two weeks later, the dress is still hung up in the closet. She had been planning on wearing it to a school program that never happened. She was considering wearing it to our large family Passover Seder; now she will probably just wear pajamas. She misses getting dressed in “real” clothes and shoes each day. I never before truly appreciated the selection of clothes that I have. I have to admit that I also miss getting dressed up to go to work each day. Anyone who has been on a Zoom call with me knows that I do put on a button-down shirt each day, but I don’t think that any of you have seen the accessorized slippers that accompany the button down!
MY FRIENDS & FAMILY.
Above all, my biggest appreciation during this time is the relationships I have in my life. Let me start with my family. I wasn’t sure how this whole work-from-home-along-with-the-rest-of-the-family thing was going to work. Thanks to the amazing support from my wife and kids, it has been working out great. Respect for one another is abundant. I also miss my work family. They are the people who I spend most of my waking hours with. They are the people who get me during the good part of my day, while my family sees me when I am tired and cranky at the end of a long day. Until this past couple of weeks, I took my relationships with my co-workers for granted. I didn’t realize how much their friendships meant to me. While we do get to see each other virtually most days, I am looking forward to hanging out with them in person.
I have so many blessings in my life and, if anything good comes out of this pandemic, it is that I now really appreciate what I have and who I have in my life. I will not take the seemingly mundane aspects of life for granted. I will appreciate the extra quality time I have with my family, and I look forward to being back with my 14 West family soon.