It’s so hard to not know what the future holds.

Although it’s part of the human condition, we’ve gotten used to, even become dependent on, certain cycles of life. As a parent, the cycle of school and other activities become our internal clock.

We’re used to kids going to school in August and getting out in late May or early June. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., we know where they are and have an idea of what they’re doing. Plus, it’s all productive learning and active social time for them.

The end of the school year holds milestones that mark not only the end of the school year but also summer: prom, graduation, class trips to The Beach for many of the local elementary schools.

In the late spring and early summer, we know, at least in our house, it’s time for baseball. It’s a great way to get the boys outside — it’s difficult to get them to do that on their own — and have additional social time in addition to learning teamwork skills.

It seems COVID-19 has taken all of this away from us.

My boys no longer have a routine they need to stick to. Learning is on a “volunteer” basis. Colin only hangs out with his friends in a digital world.

There’s been no baseball yet this year, and, as pools are still closed, I’m seriously doubting we’ll be able to get any swim training in for him.

He accompanies me on walks with the dog, and I’ve gotten him outside here and there to hit a tennis ball around or pass the soccer ball back and forth. Other than that, most of his physical activity comes from jumping up and down while playing Fortnite and Apex Legends.

I would so love to see him get back into a solid routine.

Such huge changes make it easy to see the losses. They’ve taken a toll on me and increased my stress. I know I’m lucky to be at work everyday when so many people have lost their jobs, but that increases my guilt in not being home to help my children learn as I see so many other parents are doing. It makes me feel like I’m failing the boys as I work to help keep our community informed.

But I’m also glad to see that hope remains for somewhat of a return to normalcy. More and more businesses are being allowed to open on a limited basis. My hair will be so excited!

I was also happy to see that this year’s seniors will have some sort of ceremony. I can’t imagine having come to that point in time and not getting that moment. It may not be what they’ve always dreamed of or we as a community have envisioned for them, but they will get that special moment of recognition.

And, as my husband reminded me the other night, we have a lot to be thankful for. As I said, we both have our jobs. The kids are happy and healthy. We’re healthy and happy — when the stress and anxiety don’t get the best of us.

We as a global community are waiting for this moment in time to pass. There's no blueprint for it. It seems endless right now, and indeed with our local numbers on the rise, it may continue to be that way for a while.

In the meantime, I just need to remember to pause, take a deep breath and continue to count my blessings.

— Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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