Thinking and overthinking

February 16, 2021

Work-related stressors (related to hard-to-answer ethical questions that wear on me sometimes, and particularly lately).

The pandemic wall. I recognize that my version of pandemic life would be considered very soft by some: I go to work when I need to. The kids go to school. We have childcare. But I am really missing having things to look forward to (kind of like what I was talking about in this post/episode — I need to follow my own advice!). And there is something about the finish line — which feels like it’s moving endlessly forward into the future — which is wearing on everyone, I am sure.

It’s just a few weeks of lockdown!

It will be better by summer!

It will be better by 2021!

It will be better once the vaccines come out!

Um . . 2022? Maybe?

7 years!

I mean. I absolutely understand the necessity of continued caution and safety measures (and masks!). But this ($*#& is stressful and I 100% recognize that my situation places me in a slice of the poopulation impacted far far less than many others.

I can’t wait to read these posts some undefined day in the future and think to myself “wow, that was hard, glad it’s over!”. I hope we really take the time to celebrate + appreciate post-COVID-life when (if?) it happens.

I think we will take some kind of (low key, private) family vacation this summer, even if it’s just to drive to Amelia Island to stay in our own rental beach house and enjoy their less-crowded beaches and a different atmosphere. I need something to plan and think about.

interpreting a clue . . .

At least our Valentine’s Day treasure hunt was great (and entirely pandemic-friendly!).


  • Reply Sam February 16, 2021 at 7:39 am

    We are taking a low-key vacation where we are driving to a house rental in March, and it really is helping to have something concrete to look forward to.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns February 16, 2021 at 8:35 am

    A low key getaway to somewhere driving distance sounds fun and safe. Especially if you Airbnb and avoid eating in restaurants. Hopefully you can give yourself something to look forward to. It’s hard to imagine what life will look like this year. I would like to go to my parents lake home but would prefer it just be us and my parents. But I know my siblings want to meet our baby. I trust some family members more than others, though. It’s tough. I hope I get vaccinated this spring but I am not sure how soon Mn will get to higher risk residents and whether my immune suppressant drugs will qualify me for that status. I guess of all years, 2020-2021 weren’t the worst for us to have to stay home as we wouldn’t have done much when I was pregnant or with a baby. My parents had their first dose of the vaccine so once they are fully vaccinated we will at least feel comfortable seeing them. They miss their grandkids soooo much!

  • Reply Natalie February 16, 2021 at 9:35 am

    At some point, we (collectively, as a society) need to take a step back and decide how much level of risk we are comfortable with. Soon, once we reach a critical mass in terms of getting people vaccinated, we’ll get to the point where we have to decide: do we hide behind masks and social distance forever to avoid potential exposure to a virus that is likely endemic, or accept that we have done as much as possible to protect the most vulnerable in the population (by vaccinating) and we need to reopen society for everyone’s mental and physical health?

    We take significant risks every day– driving, eating unhealthy food, riding bikes, sitting in front of the computer instead of exercising, etc. It doesn’t look like COVID is going anywhere, and I really hope that we decide to think of COVID more like influenza– preventing severe disease by vaccination and good hygiene measures, and not continuing years of isolation.

    • Reply Kristi February 16, 2021 at 10:06 am

      Well said!

    • Reply Kathy February 16, 2021 at 10:39 am

      Thanks for this take. You are right that everyday activities have risks, and it is important to do a risk-benefit analysis. Ezra Klein had a great interview with Julia Marcus (epidemiologist at Harvard) about weighing benefits as well as risks.

      I don’t see us as “hiding behind masks.” Wearing a mask is like wearing a down coat in the Minnesota winter, putting on sunscreen at the beach, or wearing safety goggles in a chemistry lab. Dressing for the environment allows us to reduce risks as we go about our lives, which lets us access the benefits of our activities more easily. I live in densely populated LA county where the virus was out of control and vaccinations have been very slow to roll out. If continued masking would reopen the schools here, I’d gladly wear a mask indefinitely.

      • Reply Natalie February 16, 2021 at 10:55 am

        @ Kathy, I agree with you from the standpoint of an adult, but not from the perspective of a toddler/young elementary school student. I am thinking about the long term impact of wearing masks on children’s social-emotional health. I am not talking about tomorrow, but months from now, once the vaccine has been rolled out and the general population has been vaccinated to the extent that they will actually take it. I have a 2 year old at home– I do not want him spending the next 5 years interacting with people outside of our home only wearing a mask. I disagree that wearing a jacket is the same as wearing a mask. There are so many social cues that children need to see that are limited by wearing a mask.

        As background, I’m a physician (internal medicine) with an MPH. I think we need to be very clear about the potential long term impacts on children, especially when they are (thankfully) typically not getting very sick from COVID.

        • Reply keren February 16, 2021 at 11:46 am

          I think adults as well need social queues that masks hide.So many times I find myself smiling to someone behind my mask and a few moments later I remeber it’s useless

          • Momoftwo February 17, 2021 at 8:51 am

            Thank you for your comment. As a mom of a 16 year old and 14 year old living in Oregon you can’t imagine the negative impacts a year of these restrictions have had on our family. My kids have not set foot in a classroom in a year. The New York Times did a story today on the impact of these shutdowns on our kids and families in Oregon. Teachers have been prioritized for vaccines, yet teachers unions still fighting going back to classrooms. If you are a public school kid like my two children you lose. I work in a male dominated field and as the only female on my team with kids my career has taken a big hit. My kids have followed the guidelines and only seen a small pod of kids, but I’ve decided to loosen the reigns. The social, emotional, and mental health considerations are too important. We need to not only look at case counts but the overall picture, kids are bearing the brunt of pandemic restrictions at least in our stare and it’s time to re-evaluate risks.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger February 17, 2021 at 8:55 am

            I absolutely get it.

    • Reply Ashley G. February 16, 2021 at 10:58 am

      Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been struggling to articulate.

    • Reply Anna February 16, 2021 at 11:00 am

      YES to this!

    • Reply Marthe February 17, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      Totally agree!

  • Reply Kersti February 16, 2021 at 11:47 am

    My family has continued to live life despite the pandemic. We do not do anything illegal, and limit our exposure to vulnerable people, but enjoy whatever is available to the fullest. Where we live, the only things we haven’t been able to do are large work conferences and parties (probably changing soon) and some public services (library is closed for browsing). We have made the decision that it’s healthier overall to keep living life to the extent possible.

    • Reply Taryn McLean February 16, 2021 at 4:18 pm

      We are exactly the same. We have socialized, gone to the gym, our kids have spent time with friends, we have gathered with family members, and my kids (and I) have hugged their grandparents. We all need this for our mental health. I don’t want my children to live in fear. Their lives have already been turned upside down with schools being fully remote. I want their childhood to be as “carefree” as possible.

  • Reply Mara February 16, 2021 at 11:56 am

    I completely suggest planning a relatively covid safe vacation. We have a trip planned for the spring. Driving and staying in a rental with just our immediate family. We can do grocery delivery and prep meals there (which is best anyway with two little ones). We can play at an uncrowded beach and just have a change of scenery. Just having something to focus on planning and something to look forward to is a huge boost in mental health. We have remained extremely covid cautious, and this seems like a way to continue to do so while also investing a bit in our mental health. AND if anything changes, trip insurance or relaxed cancelation policies are a good fall back.

  • Reply Omdg February 16, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    I think it’s perfectly possible to have a covid safe vacation now, particularly if you and Josh are vaccinated. Additional evidence is coming out that the vaccine is as good as advertised, and the CDC has stated that vaccinated people no longer need to quarantine if exposed to someone with covid. Community prevalence is dropping. Can’t remember how old your sister’s baby is, but if older than 6 months I think you could justify a visit to her pretty easily at this point, and also justify a covid safe vacation this spring or summer.

  • Reply Anon February 16, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    With both of you vaccinated, and your children recently having had COVID, I see minimal risk in a beach trip. I’d absolutely proceed with it. I am flying from the Midwest to Ft Myers to visit my Mom with my son over spring break at the end of March. I’m staying anon in this comment because I’m sure some will find that irresponsible, but I am making a well educated choice based on actual science, not facebook or even general news sites.

  • Reply Beth February 16, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    We’re driving to Moab for spring break and I am living for it. Rented an AirBnB, planning to bike, hike and drive the Jeep.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 16, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      That sounds amazing!!

  • Reply Grateful Kae February 16, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    My biggest pet peeve with the pandemic is when people “assume” things/ make sweeping generalizations about what is “safe” and “unsafe”. For example, for many people, the word “travel”= “unsafe”. But what does that really mean?? What if someone is traveling alone in their own car, to a condo to go hiking alone? Is that “unsafe”? Same with restaurants. They are automatically “unsafe” for many people. What if I go to a restaurant, hypothetically, and I am literally the only one in the restaurant? Is that still so unsafe? What if there is one other couple in the whole place, 50 feet away, and all staff are wearing masks. Is this still so crazily unsafe compared to getting takeout from the same place? What if I go to a museum, indoors, wearing a mask, socially distanced, with limited people, etc…is this also terribly “unsafe”? Why? I think there’s a little bit of a bandwagon people jump on without really always digging a little deeper or actually knowing what’s going on. It’s like some people are programmed to assume that any activity outside the home in any way is inherently dangerous now. I think some people kind of actually pride themselves too on being extreme hard noses about anything and everything pandemic related – maybe they feel good to be doing “their part” to help stop the spread? (As we all should be- but again, what does that necessarily mean?) I also think people would do well to remember that society has progressed greatly since the beginning of the pandemic. Traveling or even going to a restaurant or a store or anywhere NOW versus last March is totally different. The accommodations that have been put in place, the training staff has undergone, the modifications/regulations/etc are Like night and day. I think there are MANY things that can be done safely now that couldn’t be a while back. Like others, we have “lived” as much as possible during the pandemic but also I feel have been very responsible and cautious as well- very aware of social distancing, masks, hand washing, never in close contact with others/in unmasked group situations of any kind, following all guidelines, etc. We do see my parents and have all along and that is a choice we made (risk vs benefit). They also live carefully and similarly to us.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 16, 2021 at 7:32 pm

      Thank you Kae! All good things to think about.

      • Reply Irene February 17, 2021 at 9:04 am

        Agree in general. Only you know if you would turn around and walk out of a restaurant if there’s more than 1 person in there or if you would get up and leave if it got crowded. The opposite of risk isn’t safety it’s caution. For me, I have a lot of respect for anyone who is trying to make good choices even if it looks different from my own analysis. We have a neighbor who thinks we are nuts for letting our kids go to playgrounds fully masked. To me, that is an acceptable exceedingly small risk of transmission. I try to keep my standard as “if everyone acted like us, would this pandemic be over?” It’s the difference between just thinking about myself and my family (we are extremely low risk) and trying to make choices that are good for public health. I have no patience for the selfish spouting of “got to live your life” and the implied “screw people who are high risk” I hear more and more of every day.

  • Reply Brooke February 16, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    I feel like I’m in the minority, but there are definitely pros to the slower pace of life the pandemic has brought to our family. That said, I’m an introvert 🙂 My extrovert husband is hitting a wall.

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