Personal Post: Juniper Turns Three

Green Bay Photographer Rainbow Birthday PartyLife is different right now. We see less people and go fewer places. Things that used to be general toddler rules — keep your hands to yourself, cover your cough, don’t lick things — are a little higher stakes. Somehow nine months have passed. And as a reminder that time doesn’t stop, Juniper is three.

Where’s my Fashionable Pandemic?

Excuse me while I derail this blog briefly with my strange thoughts… I keep thinking about pandemic movies and how everyone is walking around with full gas-masks and wildly fashionable armor. The camera pans to show the world in upheaval as buildings burn and people fight for resources. There are epic battles and elaborate ways to purify water and some pretty sweet dirt bikes.

I don’t mean to make light of what we’re facing now. Things are ugly. People are dying. And quite honestly, we have no idea what’s coming next. But I just keep thinking about how strange it is to live the part you don’t see in the movies… to be living during the pandemic but not in the pandemic.

Trying to Keep Things “Normal”

Ben and I are privileged to be far from the frontlines in jobs that could be altered to function in these circumstances. I am super aware of this and exceedingly grateful. This gives us distance. And unlike the movies there are not bodies lining the streets and the world has not ceased to have electricity or government. Instead, the bad things are happening in swirls around us and we are in the eye of the storm with threats and worry coming at us in fits and starts. Meanwhile we’re just trying to figure it out as though any of this was something we expected.

Things that were once carelessly easy are now decisions that have to be made, boundaries that have to be set, protocols that have to be established. We are constantly assessing what feels safe and what feels necessary to decide how much risk we are comfortable with. And here’s the clincher: we are doing it while trying to keep things “normal”.

In pandemic movies nobody is logging onto dating apps and trying to decide if it’s safe to meet face to face, nobody is continuing to earn their college degree and adapting to hybrid virtual education models, and nobody is planning birthday parties for their three year olds and trying to figure out how to do it safely and responsibly. But here we are, trying to do normal during the weirdest year.

Happy Birthday, Juniper!

Juniper celebrated her birthday with a rainbow themed party — a sign of the end of a storm when that’s all we’re wishing for. Her grandparents and uncles came by the house and enjoyed cocoa bombs and cake in the backyard, and Juniper unwrapped her presents from a safe distance with her own little propane heater to combat the 40 degree temperatures.

I would have never chosen this party; it would have been too small, too cold, too unimpressive. But it was just as it should have been, filled with sunshine, laughter, and Juniper’s favorite people. Most of all it was filled with gratitude. We are safe and healthy. Not everyone can say that right now. And even though the afternoon ended with longing faces, arms wrapped tightly around ourselves as though we were giving the hugs we so desperately craved, we know how lucky we are.

Cheers to my wild girl, full of boundary-pushing energy and all the words in the English language (at top volume, at 7:00 am). She is all the good things I love best in this world.

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