Juggling Act: Nine things we'll never take for granted again post-COVID

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Loading my car to head home with my family after a sunny weekend at my mom’s cottage earlier this month in northern Michigan, I stopped briefly to do something that was off limits for so long: hug her.

Ah, hugs. I missed you. Of all the things we had to give up during the last challenging 16 months, touch had to be one of the hardest.

I’ll never take a hug for granted again. Saying goodbye to loved ones without a hug is like a period without a sentence. It doesn’t make sense.

But little has made sense since COVID. Still, as we hopefully find our way out of this pandemic, we all have a new perspective on what matters. I know I do.

Along with hugs, here are eight other things I’ll never take for granted again, thanks to COVID.

Parties with loved ones. My brother-in-law celebrated a milestone birthday last month with a small party of (all vaccinated) loved ones. My husband and I took both our kids and my daughter literally ran around like a wild child.

It was like she’d never been out of the house before. And in her defense, she sort of hadn’t. In 16 months, we didn’t take her inside a single store. We went to parks and playgrounds but that’s it.

Now, fully vaccinated, she was able to let her hair down and party. And she did.

Toilet Paper: Who knew toilet paper would be such a hot commodity? But seeing the wiped out shelves during the earliest days of the pandemic means most of us won’t look at the rolls of Charmin the same. We’ll always be glad to be fully stocked.

Concerts: My husband and I finally bought tickets for our first concert in early September and I can’t wait to be around a bunch of other sweaty people, sipping on a cocktail and listening to live music.

I really enjoyed some of the virtual concerts I watched over the last year, but it’s not the same. I want to be in a room where people are experiencing music collectively.

Live theater: Theater is (almost) back. And I can’t wait. Broadway in Detroit announced its 2021-2022 season, starting with special 25th anniversary production of “Rent.” That’s appropriate because it feels like it’s been 525,600 minutes since we’ve all experienced live theater.

Just like concerts, I can’t wait to be in the same space with hundreds or thousands of other people, experiencing art at the same time. There’s nothing like it.

Travel is back. According to Trip Advisor, two-thirds of Americans are planning trips this summer.

Travel: I dreamed of one trip after another during lockdown. Over Memorial Day weekend, we took one of our first trips outside Michigan, visiting Chicago to see family. Nothing gives you a new view of the world and opens your eyes like travel.

The power of science: Vaccine-naysayers can say what they want but science is incredible.

In a matter of months, people way smarter than most of the population created a vaccine to protect people from this wretched virus and it appears to be working. Yes, variants have emerged and yes, vaccinated folks can still get COVID. But the percentages are very low. Science is amazing.

Work flexibility: My daughter had two doctors' appointments this week and I was able to fit my work schedule around them. Pre-COVID, I would’ve had to furiously rush to work, rush back to get her for her appointment and then scramble back to work.

Working from home has changed how we do our jobs and that’s a good thing. Work flexibility is what we all want, but it’s especially a godsend to working moms, juggling all the demands of career and child care. Those working remotely have proven we can do it — and do it well. I hope that continues post-pandemic.

In-person school and teachers: This pandemic has proven what most parents already knew: You can’t put a price tag on good teachers and in-person learning. To all the teachers doing one of the hardest jobs in the world, thank you.