My coping mechanism of choice is always having something to look forward to. So long as there is something good — no matter how small — in the foreseeable future, I can get through anything. I’ve leaned hard on this practice since the kids were born; when they grow impatient for something (usually Christmas), I remind them of what they would miss if we skipped straight to December.
To help them develop a sense of time, and to build excitement for upcoming events, I print a monthly calendar to hang on the fridge. Since I started this practice before Anya could read, I rely heavily on graphics: clip art for holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, activities, events, and appointments. Shading to indicate school days. These calendars are often a graphic design nightmare, but they’re effective.
I just printed July’s calendar, and there is one thing on it: Independence Day. No appointments. No camps. No planned family outings. The coming months are more of the same. Just…empty.
In August we usually plan a series of outings and celebrations for Anya’s birthday. We go to the fair and other local festivals in September. October through December, we usually have at least one outing per week — corn mazes and zoo events, autumn activities, then Christmas celebrations. Plus school events, extracurriculars, family anniversaries and birthdays…at times, it’s hard to fit everything in legibly. This year, though, is a big question mark.
Kai starts kindergarten in the fall. I was so bummed that he missed pre-K, but I was looking forward to the fun kindergarten activities — muffins with Mom and field trips and Grandparents Day and Christmas pageants and graduation. And I mean, sure, I can still do that stuff, but it’s just not the same when it’s just me running the show, is it?
This year was supposed to be so full, but the upcoming calendar pages are a sea of white squares. When Kai starts going on about Christmas, I find myself floundering to list the fun stuff in between. Will there be a corn maze? Zoo Boo? I can’t imagine the fairs and festivals will still happen. What’s Halloween going to look like? Thanksgiving? Christmas?
It’s hard to look forward to things when you don’t know what the future holds.
I’m trying to come up with things to look forward to. I’ve enrolled them in a few fun online courses. When the Saharan dust levels settle, I’m planning an early morning visit to the Dixon Gardens. (Right now the dust levels are off the charts and I can’t be out for more than a minute or two without wheezing.) This fall we can go exploring greenways and walking paths.
It’s not the same, though.
For the most part, I feel we’ve handled social distancing quite well. But every time I print up the monthly calendar, I am reminded of how much we’re missing and it makes me sad.