It’s Been a Year Since Our Lives Changed Forever

“525,600 minutes. 525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year in the life?” A year. One whole year since our lives changed forever. The song “Seasons of Love” takes on a whole new meaning since I first heard it and fell in love with it more than 20 years ago.

How quickly our lives can change. This is my reflection as I look back a year into a pandemic:

Reflecting Since Our Lives Changed Forever

In the winter of 2020, I remember thinking when hearing initial news reports about this new virus, that it was far away in China. Not even close to Iowa. We didn’t need to worry about it arriving here. But then it did. But it was on the coast. And then, in March, it was here in Iowa. And then things started to shut down.

The Shutdowns

The first big blow was the NCAA basketball tournament. You knew things were serious when major sporting events were shutting down.

My husband’s job did a trial “let’s have everyone work from home today to see how it goes.” One day turned into two, which turned into “do not return to the office until you are told you are able to.”

It was right before Spring Break when this happened. My kids were not going back to school after spring break. Initially, it was for a month but as we all know March 13, was the last day the kids would walk into a school building for the 2019-2020 school year.

That Grocery Run

I remember thinking I should go to the grocery store to maybe stock up so I didn’t need to go out again for a while. I remember walking into my local store and the air just felt tense. There was an uneasiness present. An uneasiness about what would happen, about what was going on, about how long this would last. I remember seeing a few people wearing masks. Were masks necessary? At that time it was so unknown. I remember walking through the store kind of holding my breath if I managed to walk by someone. It would be another week or so before I acquired my first mask from a friend who was making them.

Life as we knew it was no longer. The days of being able to get up and go and do were no longer. But how long would this last? Surely, it couldn’t be that long, right? Ha! The joke was on us . . . because here we are a year later and we are still walking through this.

Schooling From Home

I remember my husband and I sharing with our kids that they would be out of school for a while. Mom was now their teacher. As a teacher by trade, I got right down to work planning meaningful lessons. I scoured Pinterest looking for ideas to teach my first grader and preschooler. I had very elaborate plans that backfired mid-week of our first week. I was planning way too much . . . and that is just not how you do it at home. How in the world would I do this? I learned that less is more when it comes to teaching your own kids at home. We soon would only use the morning for academics. We would use the afternoon to do fun things like play games, play outside, color, draw, build, and create.

Virtual Fun

We became hooked on watching “Lunch Doodles With Mo” by Mo Willems each afternoon. Mo Willems is one of our favorite children’s authors so my kids loved learning how to draw his beloved characters. We would also learn about a different animal from the Cincinnati Zoo. Fiona the hippo quickly became our favorite animal we learned about and the video of “meeting her” at the zoo is one we have come back to multiple times since.

Asking What’s Safe?

I remember a lot of times at the end of the day processing with my husband about what is safe? Should our kids play with neighborhood kids? What should we be doing to help our kids process and to help their mental health? When the weather became more pleasant, we started doing Sunday afternoon hikes. We picked different walking trails locally to leave our neighborhood and get out as a family for a change in scenery. That first walk occurred on April 26, 2020. It had been six weeks since we had all left the house as a family. That was truly the best for everyone. We were all so much happier getting out of our usual routine and surroundings. The spring and summer progressed much the same. We mourned over missing end of the school year rituals, preschool graduation, no vacations, pandemic birthdays . . . and the list goes on.

Family hiking: A year since our lives changed forever due to the pandemic

Lessons Learned

With all of that said, this year was not all lost. We learned the meaning of love. We learned how to love each other better. We learned how to love our family and friends . . .  even from afar. We learned the meaning of resilience. We learned that we can do hard things even when we would rather not. We have learned not to take each other or even the small things for granted. Even in a year of so much uncertainty, grief, and pain, we have learned what is actually important.

As I think back to a year ago, I feel a little bit of anxiety and maybe even a little PTSD. But those thoughts of anxiousness are quickly replaced with feelings of love, gratitude, and hope. Love for my family and friends, gratitude for our health and for science, and hope for some semblance of normalcy in the not so distant future.

Related: Check out more COVID-19 related content from Iowa City Moms.

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Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


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