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Pandemic Pod Panic: Is Your Social Life Causing Angst?

Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.

First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..

Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.

Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.

I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?

COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…

Um, that’s a little drastic.

Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)

I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.

Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.

Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.

🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🥴🥴

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The Storm Before the Calm

 

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Jim Carrey as Fire Marshall Bill

Have you ever had a Fire Marshall Bill moment when you suddenly just want to exit left abruptly and there’s no stopping you? I had one of those moments yesterday when I was out with several friends. In fact, my insistence that I jettison myself from the scene ASAP was noted by one, who even called me Fireman Bill! Here is what I looked like:

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So here was the scene. I’m sitting there trying to drink this heinous, fluorescent yellow Chardonnay that tasted like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and I suddenly came to the conclusion that I must go home. I wasn’t sure why I felt this way, until I actually got home and had a full meltdown while walking my dogs that I didn’t want to live here on Cape Cod anymore. I am not sure what came over me.

It reminded me of those times in New York City when I’d ride the subway and just start crying. To me, that was sort of a regular thing. And, really, it didn’t seem problematic,(LOLing) because there were so many other people around and no one seemed to notice! One minute, I’d be subway surfing and balancing while holding onto the dirty pole with two fingers, and the next I’d be sitting down and crying, staring at the floor.

Well, one time, someone did notice. It was this guy sitting across from me. He gave me an empathetic side smile and handed me a book, his book, and got off the train. By the time I registered what had happened, he was gone. It was a yellow business book, called Time is Money, and on the inside of the cover, he wrote: “Nice Things Happen.” I’ll never forget that.

It’s true.

So, back to me gripping and walking my dogs last night, I ran into a neighbor. I don’t know her well, but we have kids who are similar ages. She told me she was struggling, (maybe I was looking haggard and obvious?), and I was so appreciative! In fact, so much so, that I think I was legit like yelling positive affirmations about parenting to a mother from across the street at Volume 50. Me: No, totally, I get it! I do! We must get together! I am here for you!

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Anyway, I walked on and started to legit bawl that I wanted to move! I didn’t know how I could stay here anymore. I was carrying two doggie bags of poop, holding one dog leash in one hand and one in the other, and hunched over. I  was like, “How did this happen? I am not from Cape Cod. How have I been here so long! I need to go!” The poop bags were a metaphor.

BUT!

I woke up, and things are a lot nicer today.

I did some writing, went for a run, and I turned off the music on my iPhone. I walked past the beach and stopped to take these photos, thinking how insane I was to be crying that I was forced to live here. Where I live is beautiful, and I’m so lucky to be here!

Okay, now I’m not trying to be that person who tags all of her social media photos with #Blessed #whywelivehere, ’cause that’s just annoying. It’s almost as annoying as #goodtimes #goodfriends.

But sometimes you have a Fire Marshall Bill moment! And then you cry and put out the fire.

And what’s left is calm.