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Do I Want It All Back? What I've Learned From the Coronavirus

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

 

Two months ago, I would have told you that I had it all together. I would have looked you dead in the eye and stated unequivocally that my life was just as it should be. I got up, went to teach my classes, proctored a study hall, started dinner, and ran evening carpools. I showed up and did right. All my boxes were checked off one by one on the to-do-list my husband hates. 

And then came Friday, March 13th. At school, we joked nervously about the usual teacher terrors; it was a week, after all, that consisted of a full moon, a Friday the 13th, and the possibility of a bad flu going around. At best, we thought we were looking at a week off. I taught my classes and headed to watch my daughter play in a softball game, tired and pouty about one more event to hit before the weekend. 

And that was it. 

That was the last time I sat in a crowd beside mere acquaintances and made small talk. 

The last time I heard a crowd cheer for a common cause. 

The last time I saw my daughter  smile with her friends. 

Since then, we have all learned a lot - about ourselves, about our leaders, about the assumptions we made. I would have told you my life was just as it should be, but my girls have since shown me otherwise. Through small statements, gestures, and actions, they have made it clear that this all has been exactly what they needed. This gigantic disruption, this scary enforced pause, has actually made us happier as a family. We eat together again. We read together on the porch. We sleep a little later. We actually did a puzzle yesterday. With several family members working in hospitals and dear friends trapped in big cities, I feel mixed emotions all day long. This strangely pleasant solitude triggers guilt and a few terrifying questions. 

Do I want it all back? Was the maddening rush doing more harm to my kids than good? How much community is too much? If that was all the time I had, did I use it properly? Was I teaching the right lessons, in and out of the classroom? 

I may be wrong, but I sense that many of us are wrestling with this. This identity uncertainty is fueling some of the angst we see tossed around on social media, in text chains, and through emails. Are we just mad at the data and the germs, or are we a little mad at ourselves as well? 

I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that I am not going back to who I was. I vow not to return to a life that moved so fast it made me fret at stoplights as I dashed from task to task. My kids are laughing too much to turn back now. 

But I  am a Highlander, and when the time is right and the call comes in,  I will load up my car and head back to the bustling hallways and joyful sounds of the playground. Having culled the extras and meditated on my new balancing act, I am going back to Heathwood, down its long road and back to my favorite parking spot and favorite people, a tad different than I was before. I hope when we meet again that we can just nod, quietly admitting that  we are all showing up anew, with new skills, softer voices, and renewed hope. 

Go Hall - now more than ever. 

Lynn Cooper is a Middle School English Teacher, the 5th Grade Lead Teacher, and a Heathwood alumna.