As restrictions are being relaxed and stay-at-home orders are being lifted, the responses from people have ranged from “It’s about time!” to “This is ridiculous!” and a whole lot of in-between.

What started out as a feeling of togetherness seems slowly to be slipping into feelings of confusion and discord. Without strict federal regulations and mandatory steps to take, each of the states has been faced with the daunting task of deciding how to move forward on their own. Many of the states are choosing to reopen. Others are holding strong. Some people are content. Others are protesting.

In the beginning, we recognized the need to exercise caution, to stay home, and to do all we could individually to help society collectively. We weren’t doing these things only for our well-being, but also for the greater good. As the economy has taken a downturn, jobs have been lost, and potential discomfort from being inside for too long has begun to cause an extreme case of cabin fever in many – people are anxious to get out. To return to some semblance of normal.

And for others, like myself, it feels like it may be a bit too soon.

This feels like more of a political battle at times than a battle against a pandemic. Our country has had a tremendous amount of discord over the past few years, and this current situation we find ourselves in only seems to be highlighting many issues that we need to face. And resolve.

This is not a battle between the Republican Party versus the Democratic Party. This is not about the next election. This is about a global pandemic. This is about keeping people safe. This is about caring for those who are suffering. And saving lives.

My hope and prayer is that wherever you may fall on the spectrum – whether you are out every weekend hanging with your neighbors, or if you are slowly entering back into our new normal with extreme caution; let’s show one another the respect we each deserve.

This is hard, folks. Really. Hard. We have never experienced anything like this before, and we are all trying our best.

Personally, with four out of six members of our family considered high risk, I have no desire to return to what life was like until a vaccine, an anti-viral, or herd immunity exists. I am enjoying this time with my family and there is nothing out there that is worth me risking the possibility of us getting ill.

Sure, we may be asymptomatic, or barely have any symptoms at all – but we also may become very sick. We just don’t know.

Nobody does.

A friend said something to me the other week that really resonated with me. She said, imagine someone hands you a jar with 100 gumballs inside. You take the jar and as you are reaching in, they say – I want to warn you, 4 of those may kill you. Would you reach in for the gumball? I know I wouldn’t. This analogy made a lot of sense to me. Personally, there aren’t any gumballs I need so badly right now that I am willing to put myself, or others at risk.

My husband and I are both able to work from home, our children do not have to go to school, we can get our groceries via Clicklist, and food from restaurants delivered to our car curbside. We Zoom with family and friends and have even visited with some neighbors and family at a far apart distance outdoors. And this is good for me. I’m okay with this. I know I’m speaking from a case of privilege, and I know it’s not this way for everyone.

This is the choice my husband and I have made for our family. It may not make sense to others, but it doesn’t have to. Just like your choice doesn’t have to make sense to me.

The hardest part of things returning to normal and making the personal choice to keep social distance from others, is the feeling that it may appear as if I’m overreacting. Am I being crazy? Is this too much? At least before, the kids felt like all of their friends were doing the same thing. Now, as some families are getting out and others are staying in, the threat of FOMO for teenagers and preteens seems greater than ever. My kids have started to ask about sleepovers and playdates again, and we’ve had to say no.

Choosing to stay in when others are choosing to go out again has the potential to make an isolating situation feel even more isolating.

It’s hard to have these conversations with our children, but they get it. We’ve tried to explain that this is new for all of us, and we are all trying our best. We are doing what we feel is right for our family, and we won’t let the decisions of other families sway ours.

Nor should you.

Let’s respect each other, and be kind to one another. Let’s be gracious with our words and deeds. This is our time to shine as a society. Let’s rise to the occassion, as we have been doing.

This experience has been different for everyone. My family is not the same as your family. And yours is not the same as mine – or your neighbors, or the people your kids go to school with. And so on and so forth. We may not know people’s stories, or why they are choosing to respond to this crisis the way they are. Let’s cut each other some slack. Let’s trust they know what is best for their family.

This is a global pandemic and it’s affected each and every one of us in a unique way. Let’s not forget this as we move forward into the unknown. Because whether it always feels like it or not, our choices and how we are choosing to respond, whether in kindness or anger, does affect others. Maybe more so now than ever before.

I would love to here what you think. Please feel free to comment below.