It’s been 217 days since Nora was born, and we’ve effectively been in lock-down.
Schools re-opened in Ireland with all in-person classes several weeks ago, and unsurprisingly, the case numbers have been going up quickly ever since. The government has devised a new medium-term strategy for managing the outbreak, called the “Living with Covid plan.” Despite recent spikes in case numbers in Dublin, the whole country has been placed at “Level 2,” but with additional restrictions on the capital. Mainly, people living in Dublin should not travel outside the county and pubs and bars not serving food will stay closed until September 21st. There has been talk today of adding even more restrictions to Dublin. I’m bracing myself for the numbers to continue to climb. We had 357 cases last week, the highest number of new cases since mid-May. When I walk down the street, the vast majority of the people I saw were acting as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening: children were running around playing with each other, most people were not wearing masks, and people were walking in large groups and not stepping aside to let people pass at a safe distance. If I had taken a video of that walk, one might have thought it was taken in the before-times. It’s scary! And from what I see on social media, it seems like a lot of people around the world just decided the pandemic is over. The case numbers worldwide continue to increase, and with back to school, Thanksgiving (for the US) and Christmas right around the corner, that trend is likely to continue. Tom and I have effectively resigned ourselves to the fact that we won’t be able to safely fly back to the US for Christmas. It breaks my heart. Our plans for family and friends to meet Nora have moved from May, to July, to December, and now to February 2021, around the time of Nora’s 1st birthday. Although according to some government officials, the pandemic likely won’t be over by then either. One of the hallmarks of adulting is doing things we don’t want to do, especially if they’re in the best interest of us or others. This whole pandemic feels a bit like a test to separate the adults from the children, and unfortunately I’m seeing a lot more children than I would have expected.
All of the uncertainty is exhausting. Typically when I’m going through a tough time, I start to make plans for something that will make me happy: tickets for a concert or a play, a trip somewhere new, a visit with a friend. None of these things are really options right now. I’m watching the lives of the people I care about play out through a screen, and the homesickness has been overwhelming lately. I feel trapped on this island. I’ve tried to think of any scenario where Tom, Nora and I could fly back to the US, quarantine for 2 weeks and then get to see everyone we’ve been missing, even if it’s at a distance, but I don’t see how this would be feasible. I know I’m just grasping at straws, trying to find a way to make life feel like it’s somewhat normal again, but realistically I know that it wouldn’t feel normal no matter what. I, like so many other people, are stuck right now. I need to learn to live in the moment, and not try to hide from that uncomfortable stuck feeling by planning my next escape.
Through all of the uncertainty and scariness, Nora has been a source of happiness and light. She turned 7 months last week! She’s babbling and screaming, testing out everything her mouth, tongue, and vocal cords can do. She loves food. Her favorite foods these days are watermelon, banana pancakes, blueberries, cheese sticks, and cucumbers. I’ve been trying to cook more foods for myself and Tom that Nora can also try. So far she’s tried and liked minestrone soup, complete with six cloves of garlic, carrot and sweet potato soup with cumin and ginger, and baby shepherd’s pie. Her first two teeth came in last week and she’s trying so hard to crawl, but so far can only scoot herself backwards and pivot in a circle on her belly. She’s going to bed later in the evening, sleeping later in the morning, and more frequently sleeps through the night. She’s so sweet and funny. Most nights after she goes to bed I reflect on all of the cute and amusing things she did that day, I turn to Tom and say, “She’s such a nugget.” I worry that she’s missing out on so much being stuck at home with me and Tom most days, but she’s still hitting milestones normally, and she’s happy. I guess we’ll have to see if not playing with other babies and only seeing a handful of adults besides her parents in-person will have an impact on her development in some way.
In other news, I’ve had two posts (including the one I posted here in June) published on The Mighty now! And I’m working on pieces for two other sites as well. I’m excited! I’ve wanted to be a writer since elementary school, when I “published” two books and distributed them, complete with a signature from the author, to my classmates. I had poems published in 2 books of poetry in middle school, and and received an award for short stories in college. I kept journals throughout my childhood as a way to make sense of what was going on around me. And as an adult with a small child, working for myself as a freelance writer would be ideal. In an effort to make this dream happen, I’m carving out specific time in the morning to write. I’m also going to make more of an effort to write here. I want to push myself to press the “Publish” button, even if I’m not 100% sure how the post will be received. I want this blog to feel authentically human, and that may mean publishing some imperfect posts. My favorite writers allow themselves to be vulnerable in what they write, and I want to be able to do the same. I will continue to update you when new posts get published!
Well, Nora is waking up from her nap. If you’ve found things that have helped you to get through this tough time, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear about them. Stay sane and stay safe!