Pandemic or Pregnancy?

It’s human nature to look back and try to figure out what the hell just happened. If you put your head in the sand, you’re only avoiding the view. That scenery will wait until you pop your head back up. You can’t hide from it and you’re not changing your curious nature as a person.

I’m one of those people who can’t look away. It’s as if there’s a parrot on my shoulder constantly asking, “Why? What was the purpose of that?” It’s both a blessing and a curse as most things are. I can overanalyze a situation into a pile of dust. However, it gives me a pretty good idea of where I am and how I got there. I may not like what I learn, but at least it’s a known quantity.

In these early days of 2021 my parrot is heavily caffeinated and chattering away like a, well, like a parrot who just downed an espresso. The answer to that bird’s constant call of “what just happened?” is that for me 2020 was a lot like being pregnant.

There are the obvious similarities. For several months, I had twenty different emotions a day with crying and ranting as regular companions. I’m eating a lot, gaining weight, and have cravings for both ice cream and pickles. I live in stretchy pants and comfy shirts and don’t move around as much as I used to.

I’m also having crazy dreams. My favorite of late was the classic being naked in public dream. I was walking on a snowy hill with my husband as people skied past. They took little notice of us like bees in a field devoid of flowers. Despite being barefoot, I wasn’t cold and I was not embarrassed. That’s why I liked this dream. The feeling I had of calm confidence is incredibly foreign to me.

As a person who is both self-conscious and has low self-esteem, my waking hours are filled with a bird on my other shoulder, too. It’s a raven nagging me about what I should have done, how I need to do things better, and why didn’t I know that already. In my recent dream, the snow was like vanilla bean ice cream and I was a glittering sprinkle, the prized topping of frozen dessert. It was very quiet with no birds on either of my shoulders.

When I was pregnant, I dreamed of having a baby with three legs. Surprisingly, that was not the big concern. My angst was over socks being sold only in pairs and my baby always had one chilly foot. I was afraid the other moms would judge me and think I was a bad mother that 2/3 of his feet were bare.

Having a baby changes your life in ways you can’t conceive. Surviving a global pandemic seems equally life altering. It probably is just as permanent. My brain already feels different, as if it’s been run through a blender. It’s oddly reminiscent of those foggy memories of what I refer to as “the diaper years.” I don’t think there’s a normal waiting for us to get back to it. One certainty, though, is that when the pandemic has lifted, we will definitely have a lot of crap to deal with, hopefully only metaphorical. Here’s one positive difference over pregnancy.

I expect I’ll have less money in the years ahead. Raising a child was expensive. I’m guessing that pulling our economy out of the gutter will also be taxing on our collective wallets. Will it equal the price of braces, college, and weddings? It won’t be as much fun, that’s for sure. I miss the days when the big surprise was what color rubber bands my kids told the dentist to put on their braces. I miss having a day that was boring.

At times I want this part of my life to hurry up and end. At other moments I’m scared I can’t handle things when this is over. Then, I’m not in as much of a rush. One huge difference between a pandemic and a pregnancy is that there’s no definite ending. There’s no glorious day when you hold a miracle in your hands and the uncertain future remains cloudy, but also is reason for a joyous celebration. I miss joyous celebrations.

Can we start planning now for a graduation, a baptism, or any ritual to announce the passing of these trying times? When you’re pregnant you get a baby shower and presents arrive both before and after the baby does. That’s a huge difference between a pandemic and a pregnancy. We have no parties. There are no presents. I can’t even think of anything to celebrate except that I finally washed my hair two days ago.

The only thing I know as an absolute is that when this is all over, I want a completely new wardrobe. I wear the same small selection of comfy clothes over and over again, mostly because I can get away with it. When I was pregnant my clothing choices shrank because my belly was expanding. Once I had the baby, I didn’t want to wear a single stitch of those clothes ever again. I bet that these threads which currently cover and soothe me with their softness will have the same fate. I see them becoming painful reminders when we’re on the other side.

Maybe I’ll make a ritual out of burning my pandemic pants. Maybe this summer or fall we can celebrate the end of this phase of pandemic. Probably not, but a girl has to dream. I’m an introvert and even I want a party. Long ago, my friends had parties to celebrate the cat’s birthday just because they could. I don’t have that option. I literally found my cats on the side of the road so I don’t know what day they were born.

Last spring when other people adopted puppies, I ordered a flock of chickens on the internet. They arrived in the post office as day-old birds. Very noisy, hungry, tiny birds. They’ve been a source of joy, entertainment, and eggs this past year. I have more pictures of chickens on my phone than I have of people.

My chickens were born on April 27, 2020.  In the middle of all the chaos of last year, I spent hours on my back porch watching these little beings grow and flourish.  I stocked up on oatmeal as much for them as for me because it remains their favorite treat.  They get so excited to see me and my husband that they run really fast and accidentally fly.  They look startled as if someone else thrust them in the air.

I get the same nurturing satisfaction that I had raising my kids.   In some ways it’s better.  My baking disasters became feasts in the hen yard.  My children weren’t so easy to please.  I also feel less stressed raising chickens, even calm and happy.  I constantly felt inadequate as a mother of people.  It’s ironic that birds in my outer world helped me ignore the birds in my inner world.

In less than a year, they were born, grew up, started laying tons of eggs   They still greet us each day with infectious eagerness.  Now that’s something to celebrate! I declare April 27th, 2021 as the first annual happy hen, flaming fashion, solitary soiree. Why don’t you join me? Well, in spirit only. Because, yeah, we remain in a pandemic. Party for one, please.

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