The Marathon in My Mind: Setting Expectations During COVID-19


The sounds of laughter and tennis shoes shrieked through the somewhat empty halls of the Balloon Museum.

Five-year-olds excitedly pointed to each exhibit with pure innocence and curiosity. I chaperoned a small group that wanted so badly to go to the balloon theater. So we waited for the next show. Other than taking photos, I kept my phone tucked away. During the movie, my phone would not quit vibrating. I was sure some fire needed to be put out at work, so I snuck a look. My son scolded me and told me to put it away, rightfully so. After a quick glance, it was apparent that everyone I knew was informing me that Covid-19 officially hit Bernalillo county, the county where my kids go to school.

My excitement about the Balloon Museum quickly fizzled and I felt sick. Life as we knew it would soon be over. Some people thought I was over-reacting. But I’m incredibly in tune with things. To a fault. Unfortunately, I was right about this. Well, almost.

setting expectations during COVID-19

A few of the mothers and I were sitting out on the patio watching the innocent children play tag and duck duck goose.

I had an eerie feeling and said, “You know, this may be the last time they all get to play together.”

And it was.

This makes me cry, remembering how perfect this day was, and how it would be one of the last perfect days for those kids as a group. One of the moms saw me at the drive-through graduation and said she often thinks about that conversation, and it makes her sad.

At that time, I figured we’d stay indoors for a month, and all would be okay. That is where I was wrong. March 8th was our last day of school. It is now mid-July. Mid-July and school is still not a for sure thing in the fall. We are supposed to return to campus on August 12th and are not on track to do that. Everything has been canceled. Everything. No mass gatherings until we have a vaccine.

International Balloon Museum

Somewhere between March 8th and now, I decided to turn my one-month sprint into a marathon.

One of the surefire ways to not upset someone is to set expectations upfront. As a former manager in corporate America turned Realtor who sets up expectations daily, I am really good at this. Instead of being disappointed that the International Balloon Fiesta, State Fair, 4th of July in-person celebrations, school, etc. were canceled, I’ve set myself up to expect that Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New ‘ and everything else will also be reimagined.

Christmas Tree Chopping

Our household focus has shifted. The kids have tasks when I work. One of those recent tasks was to come up with goals to achieve by the time school starts.

With the expectation that school may not start until next year, their next assignment will be to collectively brainstorm new traditions for the holidays. When kids are involved with the planning, they are more excited about the celebration. One of our favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to drive to the mountains and cut down a tree. This is something we can still do as a family. We can still decorate, buy presents, etc. The party may not happen, but the intimacy will.

setting expectations during COVID-19

We may have a treatment or a vaccine for the virus before the holidays.

We may have control of the virus and be able to visit. But if I set up the intention that we will need to wait until next summer, anything before that is just icing on the cake.

Now if my marathon is supposed to end at mile 26 (aka July 2021) and it takes another 4 miles, I may just lose my ever-loving mind. Until then, let’s enjoy the journey and be safe. Because my alternative is depression and anxiety, and I’m sick of it.

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The Marathon in My Mind: Setting Expectations During COVID-19