As things start to open up again, I’m starting to panic

Like everyone else, this is what I've been waiting for. But now that it's here, I'm finding myself more worried than ever.

As things start to open up again, I’m starting to panic

Photo: iStockphoto

It’s hard to believe we are so far into this pandemic. Based on how Week One went in my household, I'm surprised to report that we've actually created a nice little routine that keeps this family of five safe and also feels pretty good. Still, like everyone else, I've been waiting and waiting for news that the stay-at-home order was easing. But now that it's happening...I'm starting to have some serious anxiety over the reopening.

Don't get me wrong. It would be nice to have a meal on a patio, let the kids climb on a playground structure or visit some of our favourite stores that have been closed for months. But from everything I've read, the loosening of restrictions isn't happening because the virus is going away. It's happening because it's been determined that hospitals are no longer at risk of being overwhelmed, and because the economy needs some stimulation if we want it to come out the other side.

My rational mind knows the risk of contracting COVID-19 is relatively low. But there is still a risk, and the thought of sending my three young kids out into the world again makes me very uneasy. While some parents really want their kids back in the classroom ASAP, I was relieved when Ontario announced earlier this week that kids would not be returning to school in June, and I’m grateful that my family is in a position where we could choose not to send our boys back to school regardless (while fully recognizing that everyone may not be in the same boat).

Furthermore, we've learned a lot about COVID-19 so far, but there's obviously still a lot we don't know. The loss of taste and smell as a symptom, for example, was added to the list of possible symptoms many weeks after the pandemic began. And what about that COVID-related syndrome that appears to be affecting children? It presents with features similar to toxic shock and Kawasaki disease. It's not well-understood at all.

I'll admit there's another, albeit secondary, cause for my panic around everything opening up again. The call for social distancing has created a new lifestyle in my home that is actually seriously working for me. I thoroughly enjoy working from home. I don’t miss the super early alarm clocks, the race to get my three kids out the door in the morning for school, my commute back and forth, or the rush to get dinner on the table and still make it to whatever extracurricular activities are on the agenda for the evening. And although we're spending a ton on groceries, we're saving a lot in other areas, like gas, tolls, dry cleaning and takeout, just to name a few.

As a result of COVID-19, I’m finding time to breathe. The virus is terrible, of course, but the situation has forced me to pause and slow down and I appreciate that. If someone told me I had to report into work tomorrow after dropping the kids off for school, I’d dig my heels in pretty hard. I’m definitely going to need some time to ease back into “normal,” whatever that looks like. My hope is that some parts of this new lifestyle stick, and my suspicion is they will. Or at least that’s what I say to quell the panic.

I do miss my friends, and my mom, and my dad, and my siblings. Of course I do. I miss their in-person warmth and laughter, and their comfortable and familiar energy. I cannot wait to hug them all. But wait a little longer I will. The risk feels too great and the upside too comfortable. I can’t help but feel that a clock is ticking towards something unknown and I don’t like it. I couldn't have predicted this 10 weeks ago, but I think I'd rather stay here a little while longer.

This article was originally published on May 21, 2020

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