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The lockdown we have been living in Norway since mid-March ends tomorrow. Life sort of goes back to normal. To a “new” normal. And I have mixed feelings about this. While I am happy to think the health authorities believe the pandemic to be under control in this country, at least enough to resume some normality, I am also battling with a feeling of loss and nostalgia for what was or could have been.
Is this woman crazy?!! I can almost hear the thoughts from any of you that might be experiencing tougher lockdown and pandemic conditions in other countries. And please, do not misunderstand me. I feel you and I wish for your lockdown to be over. I wish for the world to be safe for us again (or at least as safe as it was before coronavirus hit us). But more than wishing for your life to go back to “normal,” I wish for you to have the possibility of choosing your normal.
We are not yet going back to normal here in Norway. This is still far from over. But we are trying to get back to some normality in our lives. This means that nursery schools and preschools open tomorrow. And that the first four grades open in a week. While this is a necessary step that will allow society to reopen and parents to go back to work (because the world cannot just continue to be in shutdown, how many times have I heard or read that?), I am overwhelmed by questions and doubt. Is this too soon? Are we foolishly exposing our kids (and ourselves or others through them)? Will we be hit by the virus again and need to go back to lockdown? Only time will tell.
What I fear and shall not miss
Beyond these fears (founded or not), I am struggling with exposing my children to the new normal. Kids will find schools to be a quite different place to what it used to be when they last were in them. How can the youngest possibly understand or cope with what we have been told will be the new reality? They will be divided in groups and unable to play with children they used to play with. The nurseries have now been divided with tape or something like that in the outside areas so that groups won’t mingle. Social distance will still be enforced.
This is something I for sure will not miss when it is over. And more than anything, I won’t miss the fear. The sadness. Hearing day by day of people losing the battle to this tough virus. Knowing of the anguish, sadness and danger faced by doctors and nurses, and having some of them be among the lives that have been lost. The economic uncertainty for the people who have lost their jobs. I won’t miss the anxiety. I won’t miss sending my parents away to another country across the ocean without knowing when my kids could see their beloved grandparents again. I won’t miss the disappointment of seeing people outside behaving as if this were a vacation and having visits or holding parties, or not keeping social distance. I won’t miss the never ending arguments with my children about why they could not see their friends. I won’t miss getting on each other’s cases because we have been confined too long.
So what could possibly be missed?
It hasn’t all been negative. Not for me, anyway. Let me tell you a bit of what I will miss so that you will see (maybe) that I am not so crazy:
So, when I do a balance of the last one and a half months, I feel that – leaving aside the human tragedy caused by the coronavirus- the personal experiences have not been all negative (or don’t have to be so, in any case). And my heart aches when facing the possibility of losing these gains.
How am I coping with this? I find a way to drain, through dancing with my children or through my own writing. Sometimes just dozing off reading my phone or watching TV to shut my mind to everything else. But mostly, I try to focus on the positive, on the gains that can be carried on, on the lessons learned from the shutdown that could make of this a better world.
Do you have any mixed feelings when you think of the end of the lockdown? Or you just look forward to it with joy? If you are like me, and have mixed feelings, perhaps you will want to read my article 11 learnings I chose to take with me from the lockdown. It is my way of coping and making myself a promise that whatever was good will remain. At least the part that I can control.
Check it out here and/or write in the comments if you want to share your own experience/feelings.
About the author: Edymar Ablan is a journalist and a children’s picture books author. You can find out more about her published (or soon to be published) works by visiting https://edymarablan.com/books/. And if you have children who enjoy coloring pages and activities like mazes or word searches, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of the page and you will receive a free set of printables for your children (with more to come!)