Everyone has their own story of heartache, fear and disappointment as a result of this pandemic. While some are not as devastating as losing a loved one or being left alone in overcrowded hospitals fighting to maintain their last breath, they are still challenging nonetheless.
Covid-19 stole a year of my daughter’s college experience. She came home the first week in March from her Freshman Spring Break to unknowingly never return to college until…. TODAY. Jolie’s story is not so different than the millions of other students who missed out on the countless milestones; the in-person graduations, proms, study abroad programs, ACT’s/SAT’s, getting a drivers license and the list goes on.
Prior to Covid, I was a happily divorced full-time working mom. My twin daughters were adjusting well at their preferred colleges while I was learning to live on my own for the first time in 18 years. I never imagined their Spring Breaks would’ve turned into 6 months of serious togetherness. I was an empty nester for a hot second. It took weeks to adjust to this new normal. I was an early riser while they were up late nights FaceTiming friends. Our schedules looked very different until.. quarantine, when I was furloughed from work and home 24/7. It felt like someone hit the pause button on our lives. We had nothing else to do but slow down and be with each other.
A few weeks into quarantine, it felt like I was given a gift…. that gift was time. Time during the day to do all the things I dreamt about doing but was at the office. Time to relax, reflect, exercise and reconnect with friends from all walks of life! Time to play catch up with my daughters. I was making up for lost time during their high school days. While it worked wonders for my health and overall well-being, it didn’t for Jolie. Being stuck inside and having to finish Freshman year online, took a toll on her mental health. She got very anxious and depressed. Every time Jolie expressed herself, I tried to help by suggesting she follow my zen lifestyle which only upset her more.
When Fall Semester rolled around, she watched her twin sister and home friends return to college while she had to stay home. Besides doing her schoolwork or when she babysat, I found her in bed, sleeping or scrolling through TikToks. If you ask me, it was some heavy stuff to handle for a 19 year old.
Even though Jolie had a challenging year, she didn’t give up. She learned the importance of being self-aware, vulnerable and knowing when to ask for help! She found effective coping skills that work in order to ride through the disappointments, panic and dark moments. To say I am proud to be her mom is an understatement. She taught me how to let go of the need to “fix things” and hold space for her to share her thoughts and emotions buried underneath the rubble. Jolie’s situation was unfair and she didn’t need to hear how it could’ve been worse because of Covid.
As I watched Jolie leave this morning for her Spring Semester at college, I was filled with mixed emotions. Thrilled for her to return to school and be with friends once again. Excited for her to pick up where she left off last Spring and have some freaking fun because she deserves it (of course, being safe, wearing masks and social distancing ). But also sad because I’m saying goodbye to my roommate, daughter and best friend. This goodbye seems harder than the original one!