• Erica Suckow

How COVID-19 Changed My Life for the Better

Last year was hard.


I know I’m not the only one, but I was excited for 2020.


When the year started we never thought that it would head in the direction it did. There were so many struggles along the way, but looking back now, my life changed for the better because of everything we went through.



It was really important for me to look forward to the positive things that happened as the year progressed to help me through some of my darkest times.


I teach kindergarten. Every year I look forward to spring break. Even if we don’t take a trip anywhere it’s nice to just spend time together at home and not have to worry about work for an entire week. I remember being so excited to have a break for my students for a few days.


Just days before we were going to head back to school our governor announced that schools would be closing for two weeks. Initially I was kind of excited to have an extended spring break but then reality started to settle in at the situation we were in was really serious. As the days went on our back to school date kept getting pushed back further until we realize we wouldn’t be heading back to finish the 2019-2020 school year.


At the time, our son was nine months old and starting to crawl, pull himself up and getting into everything. My husband and I were both working from home as well as watching him and we were exhausted. We were both navigating waters that we never thought we would while doing what felt like two full-time jobs, working and watching our kid, at the same time.



Teaching kindergarten remotely is nearly impossible. In my opinion, it’s one of the most important years in a child’s life. They learn to read, learn to add and subtract and many number concepts, and grow so much socially. It’s so important for kids to be able to spend time together and learn to work through problems independently and become more independent learners. I was scared to death to pass my students on knowing that they had missed a really big chunk of a really important year in their school-age life.


I was really scared of the idea of starting the next school year with students who only had half of a year of preschool and teaching during a pandemic.



A few weeks into our quarantining we found out we were pregnant with our second child. We felt so lucky but also scared to death. We really buckled down and took social distancing seriously because we were terrified to get either of our little ones sick. As you know, quarantining is really lonesome and can really take its toll on you. I am definitely not a homebody, so it really weighed on me to not leave the house for days and weeks at a time.



When August rolled around I was terrified to head back to school in the midst of a pandemic and overwhelmed at all the different things we would have to do it to make heading back to school in person a safe choice for students and teachers. It was a completely different job than I had ever done in the years past and a lot more work. Plus, I was pregnant which made it scarier and more exhausting than I could have ever dreamed.


Looking back, though, everything that happened in 2021 really ended up being positive for a family for the most part.


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ONE

We got to watch our son grow. While we were home, we got to watch our son begin walking, talking and we got to spend day after day with him. We’ve made lots of memories going on walks, playing in the backyard and reading books together on the couch. Those are days that we never would’ve gotten a chance to spend with him and we did because of the pandemic. I’m so thankful that we got to watch him grow through all of these changes and honestly a little jealous that we won’t get the same with his sister.



TWO

Our marriage grew. We were forced to spend a lot of time together. We realized that it’s important for us to have our own time, something we didn’t always make a priority pre-Covid. We each need time to recharge independently. We are really thankful for the time we got to spend together as well. Our board game collection grew exponentially and we spent lots of time together playing cards on the deck or engaging in a game of Monopoly while our little man napped.


We both had so many changes going on professionally and personally that we leaned on each other more in that aspect of our lives than we had before and that helped us grow as communicators in our relationship, too.



THREE

We welcomed a sweet little girl into our family. This year we were blessed to be able to add another little one to our family. She is the perfect addition, and this year allowed us to enjoy our pregnancy without this physical stresses of work. I was able to rest during my pregnancy more than I was able to before while working. I really took my own health seriously, more serious than I probably would have if it weren’t for the pandemic. We are so happy that we welcomed our little one this year and this year will be unforgettable because of that alone.


FOUR

Boundaries. We learned this year with extended family and friends and it’s super important for us to set boundaries and expectations in our relationships. We decided that we weren’t going to force our children to be part of people's lives just because we feel obligated.


We want to prioritize people who also want to prioritize us in return and we stopped trying to force relationships that were majorly one-sided and emotionally draining on us. Those who wanted to connect with us did and we stopped fighting and arguing with those who didn’t.


We realized it’s not fair to force people on our children especially if they aren't going to add anything positive to their lives. We also learned that it’s okay to say no to things we weren’t comfortable with or didn't want to do without feeling obligated to provide an explanation. This started because of the health and safety precautions we are taking but ended up transferring into other parts of our life. too. We learned it’s ok to say no and that will change our lives drastically in the years to come.


FIVE

We realized where our priorities are professionally. Working from home forced us to really take a look at how we felt about our jobs and where our passions lie. I realized how much I really loved my job, but how much of a toll it took on me physically, mentally ,and emotionally. This year showed me that I need to set boundaries and prioritize my health (physical and mental) and my family over work even though my job means so much to me.