I think most will agree, it has been a long and soul-crushing last 2 years. The losses we all have seen as daily events, have tried to break our spirits. The loss of friends, loved ones and even strangers to COVID-19, still weight down our hearts as we have become used to living with our limbic systems in a constant "fight or flight" mode. As the COVID-19 pandemic becomes endemic, we once again make moves back to normalcy. But as we are all so happy to see noses and mouths of strangers as we go about our daily business allowing us to communicate with smiles once again, we notice added lines of worry on faces that were not there before our masking up.
Some, like me, were lucky to be able to easily make the transition to working from home 100%. For others, the transition was not so easy. Juggling at-home kids, spouses, and pets, especially during the complete lock-down was both an emergent curse and a blessing. It gave us time to think, time to get to know our family members better and accomplish projects to fix up our homes since we now had time. Some learned anew to bake; others picked up a long deserted hobby from their past to enjoy. However, living with the same people, no matter how loved they are, was something we were not used to doing. Our together-time was something that taught us that sometimes a huge portion of love is that of tolerance. Not tolerating something you wish was gone but showing tolerance for something that was not what you were used to.
I remember something my mom told me many years ago when my daughter was a toddler. She came to see me, a single parent, one evening and I think I must have looked pretty ragged. I was lucky that I had a job that I could take my toddler with me every day. She had a playroom set up in my office and I had a baby carrier and everything else I needed to have her there, almost like we were home. My co-workers loved to come by and say hi to this little sweetheart. But being a working mom, I could not take those little naps while she naps, that I needed so desperately. I had work to do. But I was SO VERY TIRED. Anyway, back to the day that mom came over. She walked into my house as I was hurriedly rushing to the bathroom for a much needed bio break. I had the door closed and my daughter, as toddlers do, was standing at the door nicely saying "mommy (pause) mommy (pause), mommy (pause), mommy (pause), mommy (pause)" continuing throughout my hurried potty break. As I came out of the hallway, I saw my mom standing there with a smile on her face. My daughter screamed "Gobby" which was her name for my mom and ran to her. Mom picked her up, turned to me and said "What is the most beautiful word in the English language?" I just stared. I was too tired for trivia. Mom smiled and said "Mommy." I smiled and as I looked at my precious daughter in my mom's arms thought, "yes that is true." Mom then said "What is the most HATED word in the English language?" I waited for her answer. "Mommy" she said, and in an instant I understood that while love might not wane in times of great stress, sometimes our tolerance with others can be pulled pretty thin.
As we enter this new year that is sure to still have some moments of crisis, just remind yourself that you have made it through two years that will be written about in history. And you made it through! Pat yourself on the back, look at your smiling full-face reflection in the mirror and tell yourself, "Well done, my friend. Well done!"
Robyn "Redd" Smith, is an Occupational Therapy Practitioner, a Certified Lymphedema and Wound Therapist and the Executive Director of Life Rehabilitation International, Inc, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to bringing medical care and educational resources to under-served areas of the world, both international and domestic. As an educator with over 40 years experience teaching everything from summer science camp to continuing education classes to university anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology, she brings knowledge and wit to her classes both in person and online.
All information contained herein is based on sound teaching principles and evidence-based medicine. However one should always examine new information for oneself as to the acceptance and integration in to one's life or clinical PRACTICE. And, as the diagnosis and treatment for many diseases of the human body continue to evolve as new knowledge becomes available, one should always remember that we refer to our work as "practicing medicine" as it is an ever-changing science. SOUND personal judgment must be part of any decision.