I woke up that fateful day in March to a panicked group of parents and co-workers. I work with kids on the autism spectrum and at 4 o’clock that morning, our county schools suddenly made the decision to close for two weeks.

We were all scared and nervous but also of the mindset, “Well, we can do anything for two weeks. We’ll get through this.”

Well, two weeks turned into four, then into eight and here we are going into our fifth month of social distancing in a global pandemic. Had you told me back in March that this would be lasting for the foreseeable future, I would have had a full blown panic attack. But, as with everything, we adjust. We have to!

I’ve learned a lot about myself during this time. But, most interestingly, I’ve learned a lot about my relationships. They’ve all changed – some in good ways and some in not so good ways. This pandemic has tested them, as it has everything else.

My Husband

Before the pandemic happened, my husband had been off work for about four months due to a health concern. I’d been busy with my job and the grands, so I wasn’t home a ton. Once the pandemic hit, we, like many couples, found ourselves together A LOT! And I discovered that I like being with him!

Something that has been a huge help is the fact that we each have separate and distinct interests. It’s important not to rely on your spouse or significant other as your source of fulfillment and entertainment. Particularly when you’re together 24/7.

I’ve also been reading and hearing from people who are widowed, during this time or prior, and how difficult it’s been for them.  

This pandemic has given me reason to reflect and be grateful for so many things about this relationship.

My Parents

Right before the pandemic, I had moved my 80+-year-old mom to live closer to us, and for that timing I could not be more grateful.

Our relationship had been a bit rocky, mostly because of work, but we have been able to coexist really nicely. We are finding our way.

My dad and stepmom typically come stay with us for the summer, but this year they were afraid to travel. We talk on the phone regularly, though there is that sense of a “lost summer,” and we are grieving that. I cry each time, thinking, “If I had known last summer when they left I would have…”

Lesson learned from the pandemic: Visit your parents every chance you get. Don’t put it off. Don’t be too busy with all of the other things.

My Grandchildren

Heavy sigh. I was the grandmother who made the six-hour trip, at a minimum of every other month, to see my one set of grands. The local set I saw and helped with at least twice a week. This probably has been my saddest and hardest adjustment.

I have one grandbaby who was just over one year old when the rug was pulled out from under us. Luckily, he’s local, so he saw us on our driveway drive bys and sees us now when they come visit to swim or play outside. I was worried that he wouldn’t remember us.

We’ve gone from having regular sleepovers to just being able to visit from a distance. No hugs or physical contact.

My daughter-in-law approached me about doing an online playgroup with my five-year-old grandson and a couple of his friends in the fall each week. I’m super excited.

For you grandmas out there, set up a time to read online to your grands, play a game with them, or do a short lesson. This can give mom a break as well as give you and the grands a special time and experience each week.

Truth be told, as much as I miss them, I’m also grateful that I’m not in the middle of a pandemic with small children. Not at this stage of the game!! My heart goes out to all of the parents out there!

Last but Not Least… My Friendships!

This has been the most interesting experience to me. My female friendships had become very important to me within the last few years.

At the beginning of the quarantine, a group of us would get together on Zoom every week for a happy hour to lament the situation and complain about how tired we were of self-isolating.

Two of the women and I branched off and did a happy hour every Friday. We were a threesome that never would have come to be were it not for the pandemic.

I became closer with some of my fellow grandmothers who were all going through rough times because of not seeing our babies. We’ve been able to comfort each other because we “got it.”

So, while some friendships have become closer BECAUSE of the pandemic, I’ve found that others have become more distant. What has happened is that there is a group of my tribe who have decided that they’re just tired of the quarantine. They’re back to going out, taking road trips, girls’ trips, etc.

I’m not comfortable being around them now because of that. Even for an outside social distance visit. So, it’s been a while since I’ve seen them or spoken with them. I adore them, but I’m in a different place with this whole thing. It makes me a little bit sad.

I know one day we’ll be back to normal or more normal. In the meantime, I’ll continue to reach out and hold my tribe close.

How have your relationships changed since the pandemic quarantine? Are you closer with friends and family or are relationships fading? Please share your experiences and how you cope with this enormous change.

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