All good things

Parenting in 2021 is a lot of “Are you on mute?!” during midday kindergarten Zoom meetings.

There’s a sentence I could have never made sense of a year ago.

As expected, we’re all being clobbered with “pandemic retrospective” pieces right now. I’m … not here for it. Maybe 10, 20, 50 years from now — when my grandchildren or great-grandchildren ask what it was like to live through COVID-19 (so much searching for toilet paper). But not every March, just when the first tentative buds appear on the pear tree in the yard. Is this going to be an annual thing? Two years since COVID hit. Five years since COVID hit.

I love spring, but it’s also been associated with worry and trauma since my son’s early birth six years ago. It doesn’t take much to put me back into that scary place — though our little family has certainly come a long way since.

My daughter will be four this week. Last year’s birthday party was our last “normal” family gathering for months . . . or longer. I remember our governor pulling together a press conference to address the growing threat of coronavirus, and hearing the earliest murmurs of stay-at-home orders as we prepared for Hadley’s birthday dinner. So much of what seemed unthinkable then has come to pass.

But lately I find my fingers trailing along more and more delicate threads of hope.

Do you feel them, too?

  • A year after I first googling “novel coronavirus,” I’ve been vaccinated against the illness (I work in communications on-site at a hospital). Many family members, including all three grandparents, have also received their first or second doses. Though close relatives did get sick in January, they had mild cases, and somehow we managed to escape getting infected as well. I am truly grateful.
  • The days are getting longer. Sunshine does all good things for the soul. I’ve been listening to vintage John Mayer — as I always seem to do with the changing seasons? — while remembering the hopeful college kid I once was compared to the hopeful minivan-driving mom I am now. Considering it was nothing but the “Hamilton” soundtrack on repeat since last summer, it feels good to return to comforting tunes.
  • My son will be starting in-person kindergarten next month! I didn’t dare hope that he’d have any physical instruction this year. Though Oliver has done as well as could be expected with virtual learning, it’s … well. You all know, I’m sure. While I’m nervous about the transition, particularly given he’ll only have a few months of in-person school before summer break arrives (more changes to routine). But he has amazed me with his adaptability, particularly to face masks, which I assumed would be tough even without sensory sensitivities. He’s a surprising little dude.
  • It’s almost cherry blossom time. Even if we still can’t experience the Tidal Basin as we typically would, I hope I’ll be able to get a glimpse of my favorite trees with my mom and dad.
  • Our house is calmer. I’m actually typing this after dinner, when the kids are still conscious (though ensconced in “Despicable Me,” it’s true). We still have our fights and rough days, for sure. But it’s been months since I ran outside barefoot in the cold to stand alone in the dark night and contemplate life because I just needed five seconds to myself for god’s sake. At nearly four and six, Hadley and Ollie are settling into themselves as little people, and we’re learning how to communicate more effectively. Myself included. Also? They can use the bathroom without much help. Man, a diaper-less world is great.
  • We have summertime plans. Nothing crazy, but two nearby trips are in the works. I’m so excited at the idea of getting away and seeing something new. Like all of us, my daytime views largely consist of my office at work and my toy-cluttered living room at home. Obviously plans will adapt should the COVID situation change, but I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get to pack a suitcase for the first time in a year.
  • I’m writing again! After my newspaper column came to an end last year, I wasn’t sure when or if I’d be settling back here at ye old laptop. I was excited to begin a new bimonthly column for Southern Maryland Woman Magazine (my latest piece, “Making Rainbows Out of Rubbish,” is up now). “The Short Years” comes out every other month, as opposed to twice a week, so the pressure is far less intense than when I’d kept up “Right, Meg?” as a freelancer when I left the paper in 2017.
  • I’m narrating, too. My dad, Rick Snider, wrote and produced The Angel Among Us, a podcast series we cut just before COVID hit last spring. It’s a fictional multi-generational story that is, of course, free to download now. I pop up as Lilith, a demon with dark motives (surprising, no?). And it was really fun to act again, even for just an afternoon! And I’m proud of Dad for doing something outside the box. He has more in the works, too.

So that’s my good list. Capped off by the cup of coffee I’m currently sipping and a few episodes of “90 Day Fiance” stacked up on my DVR as bedtime approaches for two sleepy kids. I’ve got mermaid balloons ready to prep tomorrow night, in anticipation of my girl’s big day, and vanilla cupcakes soon heading into the oven.

Happy Monday, friends. ❤

On keeping optimistic as fall approaches

Something about the fall reminds me of the cyclical nature of everything, I guess, and forces me to stop and think a whole year has already gone by. Now I love autumn — the gorgeous weather and bright, clear blue skies in Maryland; the leaves falling and blanketing everything in color; the awesome food; time with family. But something about it depresses me, too . . . thinking about the cold coming in again, having to be cooped up, putting away my heels in favor of bulky, closed-toe boots.

I’m not happy unless I’m barefoot. Fact.

laptopsSo I’m trying to stay upbeat and remind myself of all the awesome things approaching — and there are many! First up, I just ordered a new laptop from Dell. The dinosaur I’ve been using, est. circa 2003, still has a floppy drive and an exterior wireless card. I know — it’s craziness in motion. Plus it takes about 30 minutes to boot up, prompting me to throw things in an unmitigated rage. And my new one? PINK. PINK PINK PINK. And 4G of memory with a fast processor. YES. Power blogging and noveling, here I come!

And then we’re getting into another great birthday season — two uncles have birthdays in late September/early October before my grandmother and cousin celebrate at the end of October. This means lots of parties, fun and awesome food (yeah, that’s what I’m majorly looking forward to!). Then we have Halloween, one of the greatest holidays ever! It’s on a Saturday this year, so no dressing up in outrageously silly costumes for work . . . but that’s all right. It’ll probably be less damaging to my reputation if I don’t show up in a sexy witch costume — one of the few pieces of attire easily available to ladies (so true, “Sex And the City”!).

With November right around the corner, it’s time to gear up for National Novel Writing Month — always one of my favorite times of the year! The goal is to write a 50,000 word book in 30 days or less, and this will be my third year participating (and winning, let’s hope!). Last year was a big personal success for me, and I’m really excited for this year’s project. A vague outline is all set up and ready to be fleshed out; I’m just holding myself back until it’s time to rock. And come midnight on Nov. 1, you’ll find me at Sophia — the pink laptop’s new name, natch — already getting writer’s cramp.

john_mayerAlso in November? John Mayer’s new album “Battle Studies” hits iTunes and retailers near you on Nov. 17, according to his official Twitter account. To say I’m happy about that would be seriously downplaying the issue — I’m ecstatic! New JM music! “Continuum” came out in September 2006 — three whole years ago. Three years with no new John Mayer music, if you don’t count “Where The Light Is,” his live album and DVD from a year or so ago. That’s insanity! So I’ll be waiting eagerly to get my hands on the latest stuff, with a single released “soon.”

fall_scarfAnd soon it’ll be really chilly — like, perhaps very chilly. Maybe people will need something to keep their necks warm and I’ll be able to point them to my shop over at Etsy! I love crocheting and create all sorts of scarves, but unfortunately they seem to be taking up residence in my living room. I would be psyched to start sending some out, and would feel validated for everything I’ve created.

Ready to join my pity party, already in progress? Great! Because all my ventures seem to be a bust. [Throws confetti and looks sadly as it falls to the ground.]

But no, I’m moving forward — not getting upset about what has already come to pass. And the holidays are coming, of course — Thanksgiving, Christmas. I’m sure we’ll all have to bear the weight of doom-and-gloom media forecasts telling us that the recession is threatening to destroy retailers everywhere, and this will, undoubtedly, be touted as the worst year shopping year ever OMG! But if we can get past that, it’ll be fun to see everything all glitzed out. And hey, this is the first year I won’t have to set foot in a store to work at all — I even worked occasionally at Borders a bit last holiday season! So that’s something to be thankful for, surely.

And everything else will be okay. I absolutely won’t validate silly boys and their silly actions by blogging about them publicly . . . much as I might like to. No. As always, I’m the classy one — and regardless of what happens, I definitely plan on keeping my dignity. So have fun on that boat, swabbie!

Whew. All right. I’m good — no, no, I’m great. And I feel much better after getting this all off my chest — by, er, typing it all off my chest. I need to stop thinking so much and remember how much there is to look forward to in the coming months! I’m going to keep that hopeful grin on my face and move forward.

What are you looking forward to this fall? Come on, don’t be shy — it’s therapeutic, I promise!