Today is Groundhog Day. Again.

Not the one where the rodent is forced to do a song and dance for gullible humans looking for a quick end to winter. It’s the same day as yesterday was. The same day I will open my eyes into tomorrow, when I rise later than I would’ve if a little jerk named COVID never woke out of a primordial slumber 380 or so days ago. Tomorrow, I’ll get out of bed, encouraging the same from my kids.

My wife has already been up for hours and has completed a 10km walk. I can barely muster the mojo to get dressed, but I do. Can I wear this shirt again? Why not. I’ll get the water boiling for coffee and fire up the stove to get started on my kids’ breakfasts. It’s been pancakes lately that they’ve been ordering from the dad diner. One of the few good things that being locked down provides is the time to cook meals. Today, I’m trying out a recipe for yeast pancakes. They look and smell amazing. As a committed intermittent faster, I shrug their allure off. Despite all the ways I’ve just said ‘fuck it’ to life in lockdown, I’ve managed to fast for a minimum of 16 hours a day throughout it all and then some. Few other attempts to be healthy, a word that has been redefined in this era, have stuck. There’s a recumbent bike a mere twelve feet behind from where I type, but the mental effort to sit down for a ride has been more than I store at present. My goal was to start this week. I still have two full days to hit it. I’m confident I can, but I’m already concerned how today will be any different than yesterday. The furrow lines on my brow have been permanently etched into my forehead. I catch myself in a mirror and take a note to not scowl anymore. Starting tomorrow.

I hear burbles of kid sounds coming from upstairs. Defeated little voices that speak into laptops as their attentions wane and flutter. I’m very concerned about my kids and all the problems that stem from not being able to sit in a classroom with friends to learn, play and socialize. Therapists are going to be busy with Gen Z in the next 10 years as we all try to untwist the mental pretzel of what being locked in our homes has done for our brains and behaviours. I’m having a hard time with this but I have personal and therapeutic outlets to talk about it. For those young developing minds that can’t articulate, search for and find nuance, filter and mask and just thoughtfully shut down, I can’t even being to imagine the neural changes isolation has made. My daughter has been especially affected by the lockdown and while my wife and I question some choices we made, I keep saying that everything we did came from wanting her safe. Those choices don’t matter as all kids are homeschooling right now. But with the spin of the wheel of fortune, my daughter ended up with, shall I leave it at, a uninspired/uninspiring teacher who is incapable of using technology, teaching an authentic lesson, engaging children or doing anything educational outside of giving the class outdated worksheets downloaded from the American content-based This teacher gave the class a worksheet for American Thanksgiving that talked about how the ‘Indians’ were angry at the pilgrims but put differences aside for a shared feast. Is that how this history went down? If only we could take the time away from our home-officed day jobs, maybe we could help, except that we’re not teachers and if there’s one of a few things that should be crystal clear now for every single parent, it’s this. Teachers should be cherished. Good ones should be crowned. Hopefully not too late, in a few days, we’ll start the intake for our daughter to be assessed for a tutoring program. Later this year, we’ll follow up with an educational psychologist. We feel immeasurably privileged that we have jobs at this time and a modicum of group insurance support to make this happen.

Back down to the basement, where I’ve spent every work day since March 15, 2020. Slowly, my mental health had eroded grain by grain and thankfully not by landslide. Nothing approaching a breakdown, but my quarantine roomies have noticed that I’m quick to anger. I only notice that there’s so much more stuff to get angry about. I know where the anger comes from. Its source is the growing sadness and fear that can’t be parsed or rationalized and it turns out that instead of sullen quiet or retreating under the covers, it has a hair trigger to spells of yelling that are ultimately unsatisfying. I started therapy back in May and while I don’t see immediate results, talking once a week to a non-quarantine roomie feels pretty good. I ended the summer pretty strong, working out, eating well, practising meditation, all helped. Then, a lingering shoulder injury accelerated from twinging to debilitating, undoing my new good habit and allowing the others to fall into infrequency. Yes, the gloom is thick in this post, and it’s safe to say that 2020 seemed to be an unending stream of gloom. Had we not all shared myriad geysers of shared disbelief and sadness, this entire post would feel selfish and solution-free. But the good news is that after a steady diet of holiday cookies, I hit the new year running, figuratively, not yet literally and began Noom to increase my food and caloric awareness (less than a month in, I’m down ten pounds). The walks are more frequent now as well and it’s only a matter of time until my ass is on that bike. I also learned that my shoulder injury isn’t as bad as was feared and that I can choose to lift through the pain, if I choose. So, with all the excuses gone, it’ll be easier to return to my former good ways. As with all successes (for me, at least), it starts with a plan.

So, I promise that I’m going to focus on my happy-posting and on the wins I achieve in this year and work to make this website and blog better. I want to restart my search for brands to work with and turn this into the business I always imagined. This is an important step to move out of the framework I’ve inadvertently created, occasionally using this blog as an emotional dumping ground. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cathartic release blogging offers. Much like therapy, answers to one’s life questions are more meaningful when they’re self-discovered instead of answered by someone else. The work to be accomplished is a middle ground of honesty and humour that remains appealing to some partners out there, whether it’s other bloggers or brands. Growth is in the goals for this year. Apropos to this sentiment, the next blog post will be a declaration of my 2021 goals. Stay tuned.

I wanted to close this first post of 2021 by saying though you number few, I am so appreciative of the readers I have. Sometimes I feel that I’m yelling into a 55 gallon drum in the middle of an open field, but seeing that there are people who care enough to read is strong fuel. So, thanks.

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Aron Harris

Dad blogger in Toronto who thinks he's funny. Digs: photography, music, veg food, cooking, writing and of course, my family.

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