Dear Pandemic Baby: Our Versions Of Normal Life Are Not The Same

by Kim Howard
Courtesy of Kim Howard

Dear Pandemic Baby,

Hi, love. Well, here we are. Trudging through a pandemic I could not see coming when I first found out I was pregnant with you. It’s a year full of heavy dark clouds, but my baby, you are the brightest burst of sunshine.

There’s so much for us to talk about from this year, but today I want to talk to you about something called “normal life.”

I’m sure you’ve heard us talk about it. It sounds like sentences that start with, “When this is all over…” Or, “After COVID.” Or if your sisters are talking it’s, “When the germs go away…”

Normal life for us is family visits and playdates. It’s strolling through stores and big birthday parties and friends over for dinner. It’s pizza or pancakes at restaurants. It’s browsing in bookstores and exploring kids’ museums.

Yes, this is normal life for us.

But for you, my pandemic baby, your normal life is pandemic life.

You were born into a world of masks. In fact, when you looked at my face for the first time as the doctor placed you on my chest, I was wearing a mask.

You were born into a quiet world. A Christmas without cousins. A year without travel. There are people in our family you haven’t met yet face-to-face. I can count on two hands the number of people who have held you.

Courtesy of Kim Howard

And yet, since you were born in August, I also have to remind myself that we have gotten to spend so much time together. Your world isn’t rushed at all. We live in slow motion, and I don’t think you mind that at all.

So, while we are all longing for normal life, I wonder, what will you think when your normal life changes?

When that day comes, I can’t wait for all the new experiences you’ll have. I can’t wait for all the people who will get to meet you face-to-face and take in your enormous cheeks and easy smile.

But know that it’s okay if it takes you a while to get used to that new normal. Adjusting to a new normal took a while for all of us. Over a year later, it’s still hard. Over a year later, I don’t know if I’m all the way there yet. And I’ve had lots of experience living. You, sweet baby, you’re just getting started.

So, whenever this “normal life” returns for all of us, it’s okay if you want the quiet back. It’s okay if you just want your family. It’s okay if everything new feels a little too much. We’ll walk through all that newness together, just like we’ll walk through any version of normal together for our whole lives.

But, you know what? I have a feeling you’re going to handle the transition like a champ, with strength and grace. Do you want to know why?

It’s because if there’s one thing I know about pandemic babies, it’s that they’re the toughest of the bunch. Resiliency is woven into your blood. You came into a world of shadowy uncertainties, and you lit up the room. Keep shining that beautiful light.

I couldn’t love you more, baby.