How it started, how it’s going: A timeline of our pandemic year

Left our apartment in Rancho Palos Verdes: January 28, 2020
Moved to our new home in San Rafael: February 3 
Started my job at LinkedIn in SF: February 11 
Flew to NYC for a business trip: March 3
H’s school closed: March 10 
B lost his job: March 16
Induction-turned-C-section for Skylar’s birth: May 13 
So began five months of a very strange and weird maternity leave 
Returned to work: September 30
H went back to school that same week, though part-time 
Launched Moni Makai: Nov. 13 
Thanksgiving: Just us 
Christmas: Just us 
First day of therapy: January 20, 2021

How it started, how it's going

January 2020 in Carmel with my mom. Pre-baby bump and pre-pandemic.

In conversations I’ve had with friends, I hear the phrase “You’ve been through a lot” often. One coworker told me, “I’m surprised you made it this far without having a total breakdown.” Weirdly, a part of my brain is wired to deny that we've been through a lot. “Everyone’s had a tough year,” I think. But, when I list all the things that have happened to us in 2020, it helps me come to terms with yes, we HAVE been through a lot, and most might experience one of these life events, excluding the pandemic, every five or so years, if at all. 

It's my M.O. to let things rumble around internally before I explode. Maybe 2021 is the year I let go of that. While talking to a therapist is helping a lot, writing also helps me. So here's a little snapshot of the road to "this far."  

My boss said the following words to me before the Christmas break — we all got a week off between Christmas and New Year’s — “I hope you get some R&R.” 

At the time, I was saying, “Yes, saaame.” I was naive and hopeful that I would get some R&R. With two children. At home. During a pandemic. 

At one point during our staycation, I was fiendishly doing dishes and someone, likely H, asked me for something or to do something and I blurted out, “I can’t do it all! I just can’t! We need HELLLLLPUHHHH!” While I spoke in an incredulous, defeated and outraged tone, I meant every word. But I also laughed at how pitiful I sounded.

Was something actually wrong with me not being able to handle this? 

My husband looked up at me from his chair with a surprise and eyebrows raised, “This is my life every day!” 

I went back to work the following Monday, and needless to say, I felt neither rested nor relaxed. I was exhausted. More than I had been the week before. I thanked goodness I was able to return to work to get a break from the madness of the Christmas break. Was this my life now for the next decade plus? Looking forward to Christmas only to have it nearly kill me by January 5?

After about a week of being back at work (back at work means sitting in our home office nook with the door between me and the kitchen closed), I think I nearly had a panic attack. B found out he didn’t get a job he’d made it to second-round interviews for and in the moment we found out, I was OK. Then as it simmered in my mind, it gradually threw me into a tailspin.

Thoughts in overdrive paralyzed me: of our future, and the limbo of it all; not knowing if I’d be going back to an office or working from home long-term; living in an expensive area on one income; missing social encounters, and knowing so few people here; my husband’s stressful and futile job hunt;  making sure H was happy despite not really getting to be a kid. I reached out to some of my peers about therapy. And by some miracle I had an appointment booked the following week. 

After maternity leave, which felt like a five-month family staycation, minus a few camping trips and weekends in Tahoe, I returned to work at the end of September. Going back to work was probably the easiest part of the year. For me, anyway. My husband has the hardest job: He's taking care of the two kiddos around the clock. And when he’s not, he’s trying to keep up with unemployment claims and job-hunting. B deserves a diamond mine for the year he’s had. And somehow he's remained mostly upbeat. H goes to school M/W/F from 8:30am to 3pm, which means Tuesdays and Thursdays can be a bit chaotic. I work from our office nook M-F, from 9 to 5. B does school drop-offs and pickups, and tries to keep the kids occupied as long as he can outside the house. I try to give him breaks on the weekends here and there, but they have been few and far between. Often we divide and conquer on the weekends. We joke at how relaxing it is when you only have one kid under your watch. 

Overall, I’d say we are in the weeds most of the time. Our 4-year-old has some really strong feelings, good and bad, and he demands a lot of attention from us. We have a playroom over the garage, which we thought would be his sanctuary, but much like our pup Agnes isn’t content to be left outside like most other dogs — H doesn’t want to play by himself in the playroom when he could be down in the living room with us. 

A couple of months ago we were coping with pretty regular, almost to the minute, daily tantrums and it was stressful. They occurred generally when we'd ask him to do something to prepare to leave the house. I looked up essays and articles and videos and tips on how to cope with this type of thing, and it's gotten way better, but we still encounter what I call the agora-monster from time to time.

Baby Skylar continues to be our northern lights. There's just something about her that is incandescent and other-wordly. She's like the happiness fairy, sprinkling happy fairy dust all over the place. H was the nth attempt at trying to get pregnant (loud and proud IVF mom) and I said it then and I'll say it again, the fact we may not have known Skylar had we been successful in failed embryo transfers before her is... whoa... a bit of a mindblow. In the moment of infertility battles, nobody wants to hear "everything happens for a reason," but I hope anyone reading this with their own struggles is reminded to never give up.

Skylar is babbling “mamamamama,” “daddaddadadaa” and her new “bahhbwaaa.” She has the cutest laugh and she squeals really loud when she's excited, her dimples and blue eyes could melt a tyrant's heart, and I question daily how we ever made such a delightful creature.

I'll leave you with a few of my favorite, recent relatable reads on the pandemic and this strange life we've lived the past year. 

We have to grieve our last good days (Julie Beck, The Atlantic)

We have all it a wall (Sarah Lyall, NYT) 

Living where we work (Katie Hawkins-Gaar, My Sweet Dumb Brain) 

Running to the office sparks dread, anxiety (Julie Creswell, Peter Eavis, NYT)

Make time for 'me time' (Elizabeth Grace Saunders, Harvard Business Review)

Your pandemic baby's coming out party (Elizabeth Preston, NYT)

how it started, how it's going

B and H had a costume party and B dressed up like mommy.

how it started, how it's going

Mommy, daughter SF excursion to Embarcardero, March 2021

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