Pandemic Diaries: Survival is Insufficient

Our descent into quarantine-times looked like it did for so many others: on Thursday, March 12th, our 7-month-old son went to daycare as usual. On Friday, March 13th, he was running a mild fever (likely from teething), so he stayed home. By Monday, we figured he'd be home for a few weeks while we tried to juggle two full-time jobs, two volunteer roles, some freelance writing work, and full-time childcare with a baby who hated napping. 141 days later, that blissful period of time where we thought we'd all be staying home for a "few weeks" feels like years ago, decades ago, a time from another life somehow.

We're now staring down that seven-month-old's first birthday, and five months in, I can almost--almost--believe that I'm finding a way to navigate these "unprecedented times," this "new normal." "Now, more than ever," I'm learning things about myself, my family, and what I want from life that I had been unable to focus on before.

I put these phrases in quotes in part because they are quotes that I could pull from any news article, email newsletter, or other written material written since the onset of COVID-19. But they are also air quotes, intended to mock and minimize the sayings themselves, because not a single one does justice to the moment we are in.

Let me reiterate: This is not just a "new normal." And while, yes, this time is truly unprecedented in so many ways, boiling down the experience of two pandemics (the new, COVID-19, and the old, racial injustice) to "unprecedented times" fails to capture the magnitude of the situation in which we all find ourselves today. "Now, more than ever," we are all collectively learning that sometimes, survival is all we can ask of ourselves on a daily basis--while recognizing that "survival is insufficient."