I am about to admit something that most people probably will not understand. I don’t want to go back to normal…the way life was. 

We are now a year into this pandemic, 365+ days where nothing felt normal. Yet, I realized early on, that I have never felt more normal. I know it sounds weird, but during this time, I felt completely understood, connected, and part of something where we were all on equal ground.  For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like the outlier. 

First, let me clear, I realize this year was the toughest we as a planet ever had to endure.  The amount of loss and suffering was hard to bear most days.  We all shared in the same struggle, pushing back against the same darkness.  

The normality I speak to feeling above, lied in the isolation, the boredom, the lack of activity, and the constant worry.  For all those things are a given on a normal day for a solo-mama raising a child with autism. 

When I chose to become a single mom by choice, I understood that it would be my child and I doing all the things together – shopping, doctor appointments, family/friend outings, vacations, etc.  Then when Kellan was diagnosed with Autism, I realized doing all the things would be a little more tricky.  All of the things became some of the things, as most of those things became a bit challenging to a child with sensory issues, and a solo parent who feared being alone if something went down.

So our lives became pretty basic.  And don’t get me wrong, I have become fine with basic.  But when the pandemic emerged, basic became everyone’s baseline.  And I saw the life we typically lead – isolated at home, frustrated by the redundancy, finding any way to escape the uncertainty, as something everyone had to endure.

Everyone was doing the exact same things my son and I do for fun: going to the grocery store, binge-watching TV, scrolling the internet, walking around the neighborhood, etc.  I guess that is what they call the simple things (which I would hope, at this point, we all see the value in).

The other day, a friend voiced to me how eager she was to get back to normal.  Hearing her say that, triggered something inside me.   I felt this weird sense of abandonment.  And that’s when it hit me, the reason I am so melancholy about getting back to life as it was, is because life hasn’t really changed for us all that much.  I mean, we have never been through a time where a deadly virus posed a great threat but, the slow down, the boredom, the lack of activity – that’s our normal. Having everyone live our normal in a time of great abnormality made me feel less alone. Does that make sense?

Some of you must be saying, “God, that is so sad?”, but this is the life I have come to know and appreciate.  This type of lifestyle allows me to live presently – because I am not packing my schedule with things to do, or places to be.  For Kellan and I, the simple stuff is our jam.  It’s where we connect wholeheartedly.  The simple stuff allows us to escape the noisy world, and gather our thoughts.  The simple stuff permits us to reflect on who we are, and what we want to become.  The simple stuff is where love is ever-present, without any distractions.  I guess the melancholy I am feeling has to do with this “getting back to normal” place, where we all go our separate ways, and possibly forego the simple stuff.

My wish as we return to normalcy is that we approach it differently.  Stich together a new canvas. Reset what didn’t work. Find purpose in the simple stuff and how it connects us all.

And if you decide to go back to the life you lived before COVID-19 – that’s fine as well.  After all, this past year has taught us that life is precious and time is not guaranteed.  So, go do you.

And thank you for giving me this past year to feel connected, accepted and part of the collective.

Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 9-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

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