The Bright Side

By: Tina Mickelson - Mar 17, 2021

As I write this, it has been exactly one year this week since COVID came in like a wrecking ball. The past 52 weeks took more twists and turns than a labyrinth, minus the inner peace. And as we dare start to allow ourselves to get excited about signs pointing in the right direction, I noticed a pesky yet unidentified feeling in there somewhere. I commanded it to show itself, and a little emotion that I have become all too familiar with had the nerve to throw its hat in the ring. I recognized it as panic. Panic? At returning to some semblance of “normal”? Nah. But there it was. And it wasn’t going away. It was only building as I contemplated what things would look like as we faced re-entry into our pre-COVID routine. But why?

Then it started to make sense. Kind of. I mean, there were things we did this past year that would have never entered the picture if not for COVID. My daughter built a fort under my desk so she could be close to me while I worked and she was on her school Zoom. It was awesome. (Well, at least for the first three months.)

And since we couldn’t go anywhere while parks and beaches were closed my kids and I went on “Walk and Talks”. It was our time to walk around the neighborhood and get our exercise while they jibber jabbered about all things Fortnite. And with careful coaxing I could steer the conversation toward questions about favorite friends, issues with schoolwork, fears, dreams and everything else that kids tend to pontificate on when they know their audience isn’t going anywhere. The only other time they talk this much is when I lay with them in bed right after the lights go out. Before COVID we were all going in so many different directions that we could barely remember each other’s names. So this time to re-establish our connection was welcomed.

As time went on, though, we longed for some variety. And we all missed the game of golf. Bad. So as soon as the courses were allowing limited rounds, we jumped on it. But there were many necessary restrictions which made playing with kids a bit difficult, especially without the option of carts. So we decided to each choose one club, packed our pockets with golf balls and walked the golf course. The kids could certainly handle carrying just one club. And when we ran out of balls our round was done. We loved it. Each round we played required that we choose a different club than the previous round. As a result the kids were getting very proficient with their individual clubs without realizing they were implementing a great practice strategy. And we were now enjoying a new version of our “Walk and Talks”.

I never made bread from scratch, purged my closet or hoarded toilet paper. I did, however, agree to let our kids get a dog while lowering my overall expectations of everyday life. My main goal became the happiness of my children and family. I will worry about lost income, the level of effort my kids are putting toward school, excessive screen time and a clean kitchen after the whole world is not required to remain locked up like compliant inmates just so we all don’t die. For now, the only thing we are striving for in this house is laughter, love, patience and understanding.

But what if we took that to the golf course? What if we stopped worrying about our score, bad shots, missed putts and instead, we're just happy to be there? Could you imagine?!

I had to try it. So after a bajillion years (OK, six months) I finally had the opportunity to go play a round of golf like a grown up. No kids. Riding in a cart was now an option. I could play with more than just one club. And I could bring as many golf balls as I wanted. As I stood on the first tee I was sure that my exuding happiness would cause me to levitate. It did not. And unfortunately, it did not cause my ball to levitate when I skulled it into the lake on my first shot. But did I care? Nope. I was rusty and out of sync. But I was also giddy. So giddy that I didn’t even know what to do with my hands as I stood there waiting for my playing partners to tee off. I think I subconsciously skipped around the golf course all day, clapped when putts were made and caught myself whistling a happy tune more than once. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and truer words were never spoken.

So what about this re-entry into our conventional way of life? Well, I for one plan on giving some push back, both in my every day as well as on the golf course. I will continue to keep my expectations low enough for them to actually be attainable. And just like that, the panic has subsided and is replaced by excitement… thank you very much.

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