I'm A Bad Pandemic Friend, And I'm Not Sorry

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and RLT_Images/Getty

I know people are hosting Zoom happy hours, email gift card exchanges and cute little drive-by baby showers, but I can’t even return a text in a timely fashion. I am the worst kind of pandemic friend. I’ve hunkered down in my four-bedroom fort and forgotten about the outside world. And the worst part is, I know I should care, but I don’t. Sorry, friends.

Please, don’t take it personally. It’s me, not you. We’re not breaking up forever, we’re just on a break while I find myself. And right now, that happens to be in my bed watching “Firefly Lane” while my kids battle it out over the PS5 controllers. I have no desire to put on makeup so that we can struggle trying to get one of us to turn their mic on and somebody else deals with a screaming toddler. We all have our stuff. Let’s just handle it without a camera in our faces. I remember what you look like. Text me.

If you’re getting married or having a baby or your kid’s birthday is coming up, I’m happy to send a gift. But I really don’t want to be in the parade to drop shit off while you wave in the cold not wanting to be there either. I mean, my daughter has a birthday in a couple of weeks and there will be a drive by, but only my family. I’m not guilting anyone else into it. This stuff is getting out of hand.

There is so much pressure to overcompensate during the pandemic that I feel like when things get back to normal, it’s going to be worse. There will be expectations of giant yard signs and mile-long birthday parades. Kids aren’t going to know what to do with a little cake and ice cream and a few gifts.

You probably think that I’m being a bitch. I should give my friends a little more attention. I shouldn’t be so aloof. I should think about other people’s feelings and not just my own. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I am being unfair. But right now, I’m into myself and my family. No one else.

And quite frankly, the reason that we’re not getting together in person is because I’m not comfortable. My bubble is still very small and I’m not ready to burst it just yet. I’m not fear mongering or trying to paralyze anyone, I’m just being safe. I have a family to take care of and that’s my priority, not a kinda safe play date. Not there yet, folks.

I want my kids to understand that our world is going through an unprecedented amount of grief and loss. Yes, their lives have been turned upside down a bit, but in comparison to a lot of people, they’re pretty damn fortunate. Our family, including extended family, has been mostly unaffected by the virus. But that’s because we are all still playing it safe. That includes being home most of the time. They aren’t going to friends’ houses or birthday parties. Aside from a limited amount of outside activities, which are fully masked and distanced, they’re texting and playing online Minecraft. And that’s enough.

So what am I doing? I’m enjoying my kids like I never have before. We are spending time together and it is the best. My husband is home now and we eat our meals together. He gets to drive kids to school and pick them up. We play games at night and laugh. We are living simply. And it’s amazing. I hate that it took such a scary time to make it happen, but I’m not sorry that it has. And right now, if you don’t live with me, you’re not high on my priority list. Love me or hate me, that’s the truth.

I love my friends. I genuinely care how they are doing. I want to see pictures of their kids. I want to share in birthday joy and a new baby. I want to be just as loving and supportive as I have always been, but right now, that’s social media and texting. You’re not going to get much more for me.

When life starts to get back to normal, more people are vaccinated and numbers are dropping, I’ll be more willing to venture out. I’ll be happy to get back to normal and hug you and kiss you and share laughs and a great dinner. Until then, remember that I love you and I am just a text away. But it may take me a while to get back to you, because I’m playing with my kids.

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