Turning the calendar page to March is actually hitting me harder than I expected.

I’m not really sure why. As I wrote last week, some things are starting to get back to a new kind of normal. (I hate the phrase “new normal” and have since the Katrina days, but I don’t know what else to call it when my 8-year-old begs to have a sleepover with someone and assures me it will be OK because their parents just got negative COVID results.)

I’m back in my office at least a few days a week, and my younger kid, Georgia, is back in school every day. I’m forcing my older one, Ruby, to go back for two days a week for at least the fourth quarter. (A classic teenage girl, she’s willing to do it if I chip in to buy her some new clothes.) Going to the grocery store or the post office no longer feels like an experience fraught with life-threatening danger, at least not with two masks on. I visit with friends outside at a distance, and it feels great to talk with humans again just as the days are getting longer.

And best of all, I’m so thankful to say I’m now vaccinated (at least halfway). I’ve never felt more 2021 than when I banged my vaccine-sore arm on the dryer while pawing through clothes looking for my daughter’s favorite mask so she could wear it to school the next day.

Somehow, though, watching the year come full circle and back to March is just … hard. Thinking about the me of a year ago who really thought wiping down door knobs could save us. Who thought quarantine sounded relaxing. Who believed we could “flatten the curve” in a month and that everything would for sure be back to normal by summer.

It’s seeing the anniversary of the last time we did normal things, I guess, to say nothing of the fact of the anniversary of my dad getting so sick and going into the hospital.

On the first morning that I was supposed to go back into the office, I had a weird sort of panic attack that manifested as me trying on 15 outfits in a row – dresses, pants, skirts, leggings – and hating all of them. I finally said, “I have no clothes. I can’t go back. I’m not ready.”

And Ruby, always wise for her years, took me by the shoulders and said, “You’re not ready. I’m not ready. We will never be ready. That’s why we just have to go ahead and do it anyway.”

She was right, of course.

So I put on my favorite pair of pants (that weren’t PJ pants) and a striped sweater, and I just went into work and did it. Then I did it again the next day.

That’s how I plan to get through this month. Just doing it because I have to. One day at a time.