Tzivi Nochenson
An Orthodox Millennial Mom in Israel

Coronavirus and Gratitude, an Oxymoron?

As I stood in my kitchen quickly chopping and peeling my vegetables for chicken soup this past Friday morning my mind wandered off. I started thinking about what a similar morning had looked like not so long ago. I could barely muster up the strength to move from couch to kitchen. The task of making chicken soup, a task I could do blindfolded or in my sleep, seemed like an enormous challenge. My body ached, my eyes could barely stay open and my head was in a deep fog. Yet, this past Friday morning the sun shined, I chopped and peeled with ease. For the first time in who knows how long, I felt hopeful, I felt joyful and I felt like me. I am so grateful.

It is no secret to anyone that this time has been incredibly stressful on people near and far. The fear, the panic, the unknown, the loneliness and far more. When the pandemic started two months ago, I thought to myself “You will be okay. You’re getting a masters in this stuff. You’ll turn your house into a Gan.” I had it all figured out. I ran to the art store before it closed and bought everything I could think of that would be fun. I made a schedule. I made lesson plans. I turned a bedroom into a playroom with centers. I can look back now and simply laugh, as it all blew up one week later. I am so grateful.

A week into the ordeal of the coronavirus, I started to feel a change in myself. Suddenly, my bed looked like a lovely place to stay all day. I began fantasizing about all the horrible things that could happen to my family and me. I would think there was no purpose to my day, just another round of endless hours on end at home. As the days went on it got worse and worse. A trip to the grocery store sent me into a near panic attack. The numbers kept rising. The fear kept building. Finally, by that Friday morning I knew what I had to. I reached out for help. I am so grateful.

Coronavirus has been the most tumultuous period of my life since having my first child over three and a half years ago. Certainly, I have been through difficult days or weeks, but this was something else. The outside world was grappling with a catastrophic event and in my own little bubble, I was too. I experienced these types of issues before but this time was far worse. I had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and I needed to lean on the people closest to me to get through it. I am so grateful.

The days moved at the place of a snail. I counted down each one as if it were a miracle. I wanted the nightmare to end. Hours on end with my two young children was a massive feat. I was aggravated by the people on social media vilifying anyone who did not stay indoors all day everyday even if they were following government regulations. I could not see any light on the horizon. I relied heavily on my husband, my close friends and my therapist. Oh, and the sweetest snuggles from my children. I am so grateful.

I made Pesach. I ordered my kids spring clothing. I had beautiful paper goods and table settings shipped to my door. I even baked Kosher for Pesach desserts from scratch. Pesach came. The days started to get a little easier. Slowly, slowly could there be an end? 

Much like the outside world, my inside bubble was full of ups and downs. Two days fine. One day great. The following day could be terrible. The world around me was on an emotional roller coaster and I was right there with them. I just wanted to step off the ride. The ride was far from over. I needed a plan. I needed to buckle my seat belt and try to gain some sanity. I needed to learn how to be an advocate for myself. I am so grateful. 

I learned to take time for myself and communicate that need to my husband, I am so grateful.

I realized perfection as a wife and mother is impossible and am slowly making peace with that, I am so grateful.

I joined a support group to gain strength, I am so grateful.

I stopped pretending that I should enjoy hours of unstructured time with my children, I am so grateful.

I committed to professional help, despite my own insecurities and stigmas, I am so grateful.

I rediscovered my love of writing, I am so grateful.

I started to read daily again, I am so grateful.

I finally took the time to take care of myself, after over three years of always putting my children’s needs first, I am so grateful.

I stopped apologizing if my children get screen time, I am so grateful.

I made Aliyah six months ago and get to live in not only my Jewish homeland but one of the safest countries for Corona. I am so grateful.

I lit my Shabbos candles and pleaded with G-d for something positive and G-d granted me the clarity to see it, I am so grateful.

Great, you might be thinking to yourself, another post telling us how all of this has a hidden message. Think again. I hated every second of this lock down. I despise coronavirus with every inch of my body. I basically had a nervous breakdown during this whole ordeal! Nothing I wrote above is of outstanding nature. I am sure that many of you did far more than me. Still, even for the small changes I put in place to survive, I am so grateful. 

As my kids return to Gan and life reverts to some sense of normalcy, I am bursting with gratitude from head to toe. My grateful feeling seeps into my heart, as I think that only six months ago if this happened I would have been stuck in America. I feel pride and joy that G-d allows me to live in Israel. I like to call myself cautiously optimistic. I am optimistic that we are approaching the light at the end of the tunnel, but I proceed with caution just in case it flickers out. 

This time forced people like myself to deal with problems they had prior to the pandemic. This time forced families together with little space and enormous amounts of time. This time is exceedingly difficult. Yet, as we move onto the next phase of the “new” normal, I remind myself I made it through alive, I am so grateful. You can be too. 

I am not asking any of you reading this to feel like you grew from this experience, or know the hidden message or have figured out something incredible. I am telling you that in this unprecedented world where masks have become our newest and safest fashion accessory, we can still be grateful. Trust me if I can do it, you can too. 

I hope all of you can find what inspires your gratitude and together we will exit the tunnel with a better and brighter light. Together, we will be so grateful. 

About the Author
Tzivi Nochenson is a wife, mother and proud Olah Chadasha. She balances the unique role of a returnee to Torah Judaism and a modern day millennial woman. She is currently pursuing a dual masters degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. Tzivi lives with her wonderful husband and rambunctious children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
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