The Dawning of Normal
Summer and its attendant obligations are actually happening this year.
I don’t know if it’s the change of the season – summer is right there on the horizon – or what, but suddenly I’m feeling plunged back into real, actual life, and I’m not entirely sure I’m ready.
It’s almost bathing suit season, and I forgot to lose 10 pounds (to be fair, though, this happens every year).
It’s almost summer camp season, and I forgot to obsessively research and get my younger kid, Georgia, registered for camp back in February.
It’s almost time for my older daughter, Ruby, to graduate eighth grade and move on to high school, and I forgot to plan a celebration or schedule in time for a minor nervous breakdown about being the mom of a high schooler who will, almost certainly, be doing the same things I did as a high schooler.
It’s almost time to plan Georgia’s second pandemic birthday (she’ll be 9), and I suspect she’s going to want more of a to-do than the Popeyes, balloons, lemon icebox pie, and use of the neighbors’ swimming pool that we managed for last year.
For more than a year now, time has both been suspended and lost all meaning, and really obvious things like Halloween have taken me completely by surprise because I sort of still thought it was April or maybe July but definitely not late October.
The pandemic gave us all a pass, for quite awhile, to eat a bag of Zapp’s Crawtators for breakfast and wear pajamas to Costco and do nothing in particular for weeks on end.
Last summer, when I actually had diligently registered both of my children for camps that of course ended up not happening, we spent the summer playing Animal Crossing (Georgia) and scrolling through TikTok (Ruby) and gardening (my husband) and listening to true crime podcasts (me). Even my pediatrician laughed and shrugged when I asked her if I should be worried about too much screen time.
This year, though, we are expected to get back to some version of normal, and although I’m excited, I’m also, oddly, not really ready.
I’m fully vaccinated now, which means I have no excuse not to do the things I’ve been putting off – haircuts and brake tags and getting our homestead exemption squared away (after almost seven years, but hey) – but a part of my brain is still mired in the trauma of the past year and I’m just spinning my emotional wheels and getting more and more stuck.
Camp T-shirts and birthday party favor bags and eighth grade graduation luncheons and beach vacations seem like something from another lifetime. I remember I used to care about these things, and although I don’t really feel depressed, I feel absolutely unable to summon the same kind of enthusiasm for, say, themed birthday parties that I once had.
I’ve long been an adherent of the “fake it till you make it” philosophy, though, and this is no different, I guess, when you get right down to it.
This wake-up call that vestiges of our old life are still there and starting to re-emerge is welcome because, at this point, it’s not really too late to pull this summer out of the fire. We can still find a summer camp and throw together a birthday party and mark Ruby’s exit from middle school with all the gravitas she deserves (I’m basically accepting that those 10 pounds are here to stay, but that’s fine).
Summer is coming, ready or not, so even if time has no meaning for me right now, I better get ready. Here we come, summer and various life milestones. Here we come.