I need to hug someone. That is my overwhelming feeling right now. I am a hugger. I am the type of person who strikes up random conversations with people at the grocery store. I am the annoying jogger who says, “Good morning!” and “How’s it going?” to everyone on the trail. I get it from my mom.
I remember her making connections like this when I was younger and we would be at the gas station, the department store, or picking up a pizza. People and their unique stories fascinate me. I think everyone has something interesting to share, and I almost always learn something from them. Sometimes it is being exposed to more of how I would like to be, and sometimes it is glaringly obvious of how I want to make sure NOT to be. Both are valuable.
I miss people
I thrive on connections of all kinds, and this whole stay-at-home order has completely changed how we connect. I work for the City of Shawnee and a large part of my job is being out and about in the community. I have quickly realized how much I miss simply seeing familiar faces. I miss commiserating with co-workers face to face about something that is frustrating and then feeling much better after knowing they are feeling exactly how I am. I miss going around to our different buildings for projects and meetings and seeing friends I have made across departments. I miss randomly running into a senior citizen who has questions about a service we provide, listening to their concerns, and then truly being able to help them out. And man, do I miss going out to lunch with friends.
Another major adjustment has been not being able to spend time with my parents. It has been my daughters’ most-asked quarantine question as well. They have a very close relationship with my parents and are having a hard time grasping that they cannot go on four-wheeler rides with Pop Pop or create some messy craft with Mimi. My kids are frequent slumber party guests at my parents, so the girls are dying to get back into the bunk beds and spend some time in the country. We have been running out on the weekends to drop off groceries or meals, but talking from a six-foot distance in the driveway while the girls stay trapped in the van is not what we are used to, not to mention these visits don’t include a hug.
I choose gratitude
All of that said, I make an active decision every single day to have a positive mindset. I take stock of all the things I have to be thankful for. And honestly, there are many things on that list. My husband and I still have our jobs, and my kids are still able to go to their home daycare. We have unbelievably great friends and family who are keeping connected in every way possible. This extra time we are getting with our daughters is a blessing we did not see coming. I am thankful they have each other; I can see their sisterhood growing stronger as they lean on each other through this time. Our family time is much simpler in this stage. No running around to lessons, practices, games, playdates, and parties. Instead, we are walking the dog a lot, going for family bike rides, grilling out, searching for bugs, and playing on our backyard play-set.
There are so many things I miss, like that trip to Mexico we had been planning for a year. But so many things I want to make sure we keep hold of as we gradually come out of all of this. So, even though my need for people and connection is taking quite a hit during this time, I’ve learned to appreciate slowing down to take stock of what is important in my life.
So many families are going through such hard times right now. It is time for us to shift our mindsets away from ourselves and focus on supporting them in any way we can. I keep seeing all the messages of how we are all in this together. It’s true. We are ALL in this together, for better or worse. So let’s give each other some grace and get through it as best we can, whether you need to hug someone or not.