‘After 13 months of family togetherness, I was alone.’: Mom talks life in the wake of the pandemic, ‘This is the new normal’

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“New normal.

For some reason, I hate that term.

Maybe it’s because I don’t like labeling something as normal vs. abnormal. It feels too judgmental.

Maybe it’s because I don’t like change. Change is always hard and uncomfortable.

But, this is my life now—the new normal. Whether I like it or not.

After over a year of remote and hybrid learning where my children have been at home at least 3 school days each week, my children have returned to full-time in-person schooling.

A boy returns to school wearing a mask as seen through a car window
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

After over a year of working primarily from home, my husband has returned to being in the office for most of his shifts.

The other day was the first day when I was the only one home.

After over a year of me working fully remote from home, I’m still here—seeing all my patients via telehealth and teaching all my classes over Zoom.

A mug and headphones sit on a desk in front of a computer
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

But, after 13 months of family togetherness, I was alone.

The house was silent.

No teachers‘ voices could be heard on the computer through the doors of my children’s rooms.

The house was silent.

Two boys goofing around at home
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

No cheesy manager jokes from my husband could be heard as he led a Zoom meeting from our dining room table.

The house was silent.

No dog footsteps could be heard tip-tapping on the hardwood floors as they wandered the house looking for anyone who was free and could give them some attention. They were snuggled all cozy in their crates, probably enjoying the quiet opportunities to nap.

Two brown dogs lie next to each other on a bed
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

The house was silent.

No dirty dishes were found in the sink as remnants of quick snack breaks between my kids’ classes or between my husband’s meetings.

The house was silent.

An empty kitchen with everything put away
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

No one was there to pass me in the hallway.

The house was silent.

No one needed my help with getting into a Google Classroom meet.

The house was silent.

No one was there at my kitchen island eating their lunch while I poured myself another cup of tea.

The house was silent.

An empty kitchen with a large butcherblock island
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

Silence recharges me. Silence refuels me. Silence calms me.

But this silence was different.

The house was silent, and I realized just how lucky my family had been for the past year.

We stayed healthy, and we enjoyed the forced togetherness.

A family with two sons stand out on a street together
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

The house was silent, and I felt a deep gratitude for the memories we had made as a family over the past year.

We adapted and grew and were able to be a part of each other’s lives in ways that never would have been possible without a pandemic.

The house was silent.

And I missed the loudness.”

A family of four sit together around a dinner table
Courtesy of Jenni Brennan

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jenni Brennan. You can follow her journey on FacebookInstagram, and her websiteSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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