Relationships

How Have Your Plans Changed These Days?

When Plans Change

I wasn’t in the market for a house…

I definitely wasn’t in the market for a house that resembled a spaceship. Seriously, imagine if someone stole Epcot center, made it rustic, plunked it in the middle of nowhere, and threw in a couple geometric skylights for good measure. But when such a home inserted itself in my Instagram feed, my soul began to sing a song I hadn’t realized I’d known the lyrics to.

“This geodesic dome is a ten-minute bike ride to a beach that is great for surfing,” read the description. I do not surf; I can barely ride a bike. But suddenly, this whole new life played out before my eyes. There were long hikes and lush gardens and quiet nights falling asleep to the sound of crickets. It all culminated with an image of me as a cool surfing grandma. I wanted it to begin as soon as possible.

To be clear, I write this not from a spaceship-home (someone else bought it), but from day 117 inside my Brooklyn apartment, at the table that multitasks as living room, dining room, and office. For now, my spaceship forest oasis remains the stuff of daydreams. Still, whenever I need a little mental getaway, you can find me scrolling through listings of homes in the desert, near the beach, in the mountains, in the woods… in the last few months, my daydreams, like many of my plans, have changed.

I still love my apartment. I still love my city. I still love my little family that I share it all with. But this world is not yesterday’s world, nor is it tomorrow’s. Before, I never dreamed of space, because it felt like the whole world was right outside my door. When that suddenly shut down, it brought a lot of things into question.

“Now that we’re spending so much time at home, the place where we live has never felt more important,” said one friend, who is the new mom to a three-month-old baby. She and her husband are currently weighing the options of larger apartments, even if they might come with longer (eventual) commutes.

“We’ve been looking at houses in the (Virginia) suburb where I grew up,” says another friend. “Which I never thought I would have considered, but given everything that’s happening, having help with childcare and being able to assist older family members is a hard thing to pass up.”

“First, I got furloughed. Then the following month, my partner’s company shut down. That happened at the same time as our lease renewal, and we thought, why stay?” This from a friend who recently left New York and is currently starting over in Nashville.

One by one, so many friends have exited the city. Some have gone in search of different school systems, others to be near family. Others are after that elusive thing for many urban dwellers: space. Some have canceled weddings, others have sped up their long-term plans. After hard times, they are in search of soft landings. Or at least, a place to stand on solid ground.

This year, many of our lives have changed, some in drastic ways. We find ourselves in places — literal and figurative – that we never imagined. I used to think I couldn’t live in a place that wasn’t going, going all the time. But that lifestyle hasn’t been possible for some time now, and — spoiler alert — I’m fine. Because I’d like to believe there’s always a silver lining, perhaps it is becoming reacquainted with our priorities.

If there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that maybe I’m not who I thought I was. Maybe I’ve changed, or maybe I’ve been this person all along and have only just realized. There is nothing like a fork in the road to introduce us to ourselves, to show us who we are and what we’re really made of.

The last six months have been full of questions; maybe the next six will offer some answers. I can’t predict what that might look like, nor what it might mean. Maybe I’ll be a surfing grandma, after all.

Have your plans changed? What have you learned about yourself in these last few months? Would love to hear.

P.S. The power of a good quote and how has your life surprised you?

(Photo by Caroline Donofrio.)

  1. I absolutely love this post, Caroline.

    I’m 8 years into being a small business owner – I’m a documentary wedding photographer in California. What I’ve learned in COVID, as my weddings have all moved to 2021 and I have been granted weekends with my partner and our friends and family for the first time in our whole relationship: I’m ready to return to the traditional workforce. I’m ready to have a 9-6, with weekends off so I can really be present in our community (from a safe distance, for now).

    And most importantly, I’m ready to work on a team again. I’m ready to be part of a workplace community that just doesn’t exist when you work for yourself, even if your other solo-preneur colleagues/friends are the absolute best.

    So I’m taking this forced sabbatical to start my career in People Operations – looking for a fall internship as a 35 year old is no walk in the park, but it’s honestly been fun! Fingers crossed for the future.. for all of us!

  2. Sherry says...

    I’m late in commenting, but here goes! I read through all comments. I’m so glad for all those who found some clarity, a new home or something enlightening or positive as a result of the pandemic. My heart truly breaks for those affected poorly by loss of loved ones, economic distress, food insecurity, those experiencing racism, or the countless unknown ways the pandemic wreaks havoc. As a companion article, I think reading about how we help other people in mitigating inequality as it relates to life and/or the pandemic would be worthwhile. It would remind us all of the work yet to do and offer perspective (always a good thing!).

  3. Danielle says...

    In late 2019, after finishing professional school, I unexpectedly landed a high-powered job less than two miles from my parents. At first, I struggled with the lack of amenities here. But then I settled in. I love seeing my family regularly and I’m ready to start a family of my own. Then COVID hit. I lost my job. Our town has been devastated and I’m being forced to move for the paycheck. My partner is now the breadwinner and I love him for working so hard for us. Starting a family is expensive, so we know moving for jobs is what we must do, but it doesn’t make saying goodbye to our current families any less difficult.

  4. M. says...

    The COVID19 crisis has freed me from some of my ambition.

    I’ve always felt like I had to push myself to write more, take on more projects, constantly reach for the next achievement of my career. I’m proud of my work, but I sometimes feel like this ambition makes me less happy. As soon as I achieve a goal, I have to move on to the next one. I feel unsatisfied with accomplishments that 10 or even 5 years ago, I would have been thrilled by. It’s always more, more, more. It’s not that I’m a workaholic because I have a boss who needs more from me; it’s rather that I have this internal battle where I need external validation to prove to myself that I’m smart, I’m an intellectual, I’m special.

    The pandemic and the recent Black Lives Matter activism has helped me put a bit of this in check. This historical moment isn’t an intellectual exercise — this is real life, and it’s life or death for many of us. It’s not about awards or publications or accolades or social media likes. I feel humbled by the gravity of this emergency, and it’s encouraging me to dig in deeper with my family and my community. It’s also helping me feel grateful for the physicality of the present moment: the pleasures of cooking and eating food, hugging my loved ones, experiencing nature. Those are such gifts that I’m lucky to have.

  5. Mims says...

    I may have missed some, but I have read most of these 400 plus comments and I feel sad not a single person mentioned trying to improve their physical health. I am so happy for those doing the important work of mental health improvement, but I want to fly my freak flag for doing something to improve one’s chances of surviving Covid intact if they do get it. Covid is here, there may never be a safe vaccine, life goes on.

    I am almost 60…with borderline hypertension, prediabetes, subpar Vit D status and a good 30 pounds overweight. I looked myself in the mirror back in late February and said, “Girl, you gotta start doing the right things if you are ever going to see your grandkid(s) (who(m) do not exist yet, but hopefully will some day!). I embraced a whole foods plant based diet, started a multi with extra Vitamin D, began doing body weight exercises and swinging the lonely kettlebell I bought years ago that was gathering dust. I am down ten pounds (and counting), my BP and blood sugars are now normal. It has been really hard, but I have a supportive partner who is a good role model for exercise (not so much for diet choices). And luckily we both still have jobs and decent healthcare access.

    I refuse to become a statistic just because I was ignoring all the positive choices I could be making to improve my health. Before Covid, it was easy to ignore I was slowly sliding into chronic health problems. I knew it in the back of my mind, and I knew what I needed to do, but I never did it. But Covid really focused a bright light onto my shadow side: I’m naturally lazy, too sedentary, love simple carbs and cheese, probably drink more beer than I should. Choosing a healthy life has been very motivating for me. I choose it from a place of freedom, not from a place of fear.

    My heart goes out to those here who do not have a safe neighborhood or green places to move through. That is a basic human right. But alot of my movement happens indoors and I encourage anyone who needs to move more just get up and do something. If you have a chair and room in your home to swing your arms you can do pushups, squats, triceps dips. Google body weight exercises, do yoga, dance, climb stairs, anything. Dont be afraid to look silly. Like I said, I’m almost 60 and I most definitely do not look like a fitness model. And I don’t give a damn, because 60 year old women are invisible. All that matters is I feel great, I am so much stronger. Who knows, maybe in ten years I will be that surfing grandma.

    • Andrea says...

      Thank you Mims for your inspiring words and I’ll be 56 in two weeks and totally get the “invisible “ thing cuz I feel like we are! Well we’re NOT and you’ve inspired this gal to get moving!!!! Thank you! And you’d definitely rock as leader of the “we are NOT invisible “ club. Seriously! And I became a Gigi almost 11 months ago, totally worth keeping in good health! Hugs!

    • Sosloblue says...

      Mims kudos to you for taking action to get as healthy as you can amidst these times and pointing this out that our health if the utmost priority. You are an inspiration. All of what you said resonates with me. Like you, I’m in the older age group, and I have pre-diabetes and have been struggling with cutting down sugar. I’ve found that exercise brightens my day and I try to walk every day, and use my exercise app faithfully every day even if it’s only for 10 minutes with very little floor space to do some core workouts, or a few pushups or planks. Every little bit helps. Here’s to good health!

    • bethany says...

      Mims, as much as I understand what you’re saying and can relate in some ways — quarantine has given me more time to exercise than I ever had when I was commuting to an office every day and I feel more conscious about moving my body since I sit at home every day — I want to gently push back on the idea that physical health will save you from catching or dying of COVID. Yes, underlying health issues can complicate a person’s chances for recovery. But I’ve seen several people suggest that food + exercise is the best medicine and that can come across as really ableist for people living with chronic conditions and different body types. The painful truth is the young, perfectly healthy people in the prime of their lives are contracting and dying of COVID. So, I encourage you and everyone else to move your bodies and prioritize your physical health as a way of loving yourself, but we can do it without upholding an ableist narrative about who will survive or is worthy of surviving this pandemic.

    • Sarah says...

      Hi Mims!
      As a 35 year old woman, I’m fascinated and terrified by this idea of women becoming invisible as they age. I’d heard about this before and feel like I’ve already sort of started to become invisible myself. I try to consciously make an effort to really see and notice women of all ages, but especially those middle-aged and older. I love hearing perspectives from women older than me… thank you for contributing to this community! Also, thanks for the reminder to exercise!!

  6. Caitlin says...

    We bought a house in March close to family and I am so much more happy with the space. It has a yard and a deck and so much more breathing room. We paid for our home all on our own (even with paying for college by myself with 6 years left of student loan payments). Owning a house does not assume wealth, we sacrificed a lot to get to this point. Even through some furlough weeks and pay cuts the past few months, I think purchasing this home was the best decision we ever made.

    It may just be a home but it allowed for some happiness amidst all the tragedy (my grandma died from COVID last month).

  7. Laura F says...

    As always, COJ comes through in the comment section. I LOVE reading the comments. A space has been created where people can agree and disagree, where people can share how their daily lives and experiences are different, where people find joy and sadness. I find this to be rare. And I so much appreciate it, I know so many others do too. Thanks COJ.

  8. Ibtisaam says...

    I moved from the inner city (Cape Town, South Africa) to a wood cabin by a river, surrounded by trees, horses, an ostrich and many, many different kinds of birds I never knew existed. I have taken up cycling (don’t have a car and didn’t need one in the city) and am bugging down here for a bit, working remotely (I got a new job during lockdown!).

    • Jess says...

      Heyyyy fellow Capetonian! Where did you move to, it sounds glorious. Good for you!

    • Ibtisaam says...

      Wellington. Thanks! xx

  9. M says...

    Oh this is so hard. I will be hoping for that hug too.

  10. Jenny says...

    Oh yes! I was laid off from my job of 3 years and my grandfather passed on the same day in June. I currently live in Seattle, where the pandemic hit the US first. I say that, because that means I’ve been self-isolating in my 400 sq ft studio with no outside space in a downtown neighborhood that really doesn’t exist anymore for 18 whole weeks now. So, I’m renting a van and moving down to LA to live with my 92 year old grandmother. Is this how I saw my life at 34? Not at all. But here we are.

  11. Molly says...

    Wooo boy, how long you got??

    In the past 6 months, I: asked my wife for a divorce, went through mediation, fell in love with a new partner, accidentally moved across the country (ie got stuck due to COVID), and am now looking for an apartment in my new city (new life???). The last 6 months have changed e v e r y t h i n g for me (yes it is my Saturn return, yes astrology is real, yes I am learning tarot now too because we all need a lockdown hobby).

    And I am happier than I’ve ever, ever been.

    • Sarah says...

      I’d happily watch a movie of just this 6 months of your life. Wow! :)

    • Write a book!

  12. J Ray says...

    It’s so sad that in this time of intense polarization in so many aspects of life, COVID-19 continues the trend of unequal impacts on our lives. Some ppl have been able to work from home (not easy), reconsider dreams and plans, and rediscover themselves. Others have lost everything–family members, jobs, homes, etc. Still others have stories that don’t fit those two examples. If you are reacting strongly in a negative way to this essay, I hear you. But I also think that calling this tone deaf denies stories of others. I bet all this was a big deal for Caroline, so she wanted to share it. Write to them about your stories…maybe they can share some of yours with this audience. And for the ppl who are surprised at that writers and commenters are thinking about moving–this is an affluent women’s blog that strives to showcase picks high/low products but it is SO obvious that it’s a high socioeconomic tier…it permeates all aspects of the writing.

    • Danielle says...

      Thank you for this comment. It encompasses a lot of my thoughts when I’ve read the criticisms of this piece. I would also add that a person’s comments on a blog often only reveal a small slice of life. I commented about finally being able to buy a house and having mixed feelings about it. To be honest still having a two job household and buying a house wreaks of privilege. There are lots of things I didn’t say- like how my parents are well into their 60’s and unable to financially retire just yet. My mom works every day in 90 degree temps in a potato chip factory and I worry constantly that this job she has hated for years will be where she is exposed to Covid. That she will get ill and pass away before ever retiring.

      My in-laws are now in the middle of a serious hot spot and my mother-in-law is already on oxygen with a lung disease.

      All of our parents are in states that aren’t taking this seriously enough and I lay awake at night worried about what might happen if we were to lose one or more of them. Suddenly the extra space in a new house doesn’t seem to frivolous.

      We’ve been so lucky to be able to buy a house but that ability comes from jobs that are 1,000 plus miles from any family and nearly all friends. With no travel who knows when we will see any of those people again.

      Just a reminders that all of these comments are just pieces of the story and honestly this story is just getting started.

    • Anonymous says...

      My life was in shambles pre-COVID 19. I walked out on my husband, as well as my four children, lost my work-from-home job and was financially destitute to the point of receiving charity from an organisation, as well as friends. I was depressed and had bouts of anxiety. When rumours about the virus started, I went into complete panic mode, stockpiling (on credit) in FEBRUARY, when everyone was still chillaxing – no doubt because of my already fragile emotional state. When everyone started freaking out, I strangely felt validated, because before, my life was falling apart, when everyone was carrying on as normal. I managed to find a new job – my experience in working from home suddenly was a huge plus, and also, I had had time to calm down since February. Due to the immenseness of the pandemic, my ex also started acting like less of a jerk, and facilitated a lot more contact with my children. We are not out of the woods yet, but I am definitely in a better place than I was one year ago.

  13. anonymous says...

    in the midst of a pandemic, while juggling the challenge of working and parenting full-time from a 900 sq ft apartment, i found out my husband was cheating on me. our marriage had been on the rocks for years, but this was the final straw and has now catapulted us into divorce. i tried to buy time, to delay things, as embarking on the chaotic and painful process of separating our lives seemed insurmountable in the middle of a global crisis. But the pandemic forced me to face my fears. it left no room for me to push things under the rug as i had done for years. there was nowhere to hide, no distractions to keep my unhappiness at bay. so we are in the midst of divorce. we are leaving our apartment and have found new homes. i am worrying about our son, how he will handle this big life change and all that is to come. but i feel proud and strong to have made it through some of the darkest days of my life. i know more challenges are ahead but i feel ready to face them head on.

    • Katie says...

      Thinking of you and impressed by your strength and fortitude.

  14. CM says...

    I decided after my contract is up I’m no longer going to practice medicine. I live in a red state and have experienced not just daily sexism but violence and sexual assault in the past years as a physician. The pandemic threw in my face (again) how little the government, my institution, and my patients care about us. I am saying F*** it and not looking back.

    • Dee says...

      I admire your courage to make this change, and am so sorry for all that you have had to deal with. Best wishes for your journey.

  15. Ceridwen says...

    My plan was to spend a lot of time with my parents. My mum is nearing the end of her life and in what seems to be a final go at cancer treatments; or as she puts it, at the pointy end. I always thought I would be there just spending time, accompanying her and my dad through this time. We have just entered another lockdown so that won’t be. Instead I try to be in contact everyday through calls and texts- accompanying but from afar. I hope to hug her again. I can’t bring myself to believe that I won’t.

    • Terri says...

      I’m so sorry!

    • M says...

      Oh this is so hard. I will be hoping for that hug too.

    • Geraldine says...

      Oh Ceridwen my heart aches for you. It’s such a terrible situation to be in. My father died nearly 3 years ago and even then I said it was such a privilege to be with him, but after reading so many accounts of others it just cements the fact that it was such a privilege. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    • N. says...

      I am so sorry. I hope you have a chance to be there with them. I do imagine that they feel your love with them, no matter where you are.

  16. Lael says...

    Yikes. I have to say that I am surprise⁰d to read that many people (majority) has said they want to move or have already moved out of their city to a smaller town with more space and room given the social/political climate. I get that we want breathing room now but I have to say this means a few things 1. There is a lot of privilege in these readers to be able to do so 2. They are probably mostly all white because they wouldn’t mind moving to a likely predominantly white area

    I have had the opposite experience of these readers as I currently live in an overwhelmingly white suburban rural area with a lot of room for my 2 kids. But this climate and pandemic has made me decide I must move back into an area with diversity, meaning into the city. I do not want my kids to go to school with all white peers and live in a segregated society. Half of all American schools are segregated currently. For me, teaching my kids ways to be antiracist is not enough, they need to live in an area where there are all kinds of people so they can grow up with friends of different cultures. I’m over the performance of being antiracist in social media. One thing I can ACTUALLY do is live in a diverse community and put my kids in a school system with diverse students. I have fallen out of love with my whitewashed community – the yard and the space dont make up for the lack of diversity! To me, that is most important now. Being from a middle eastern background, growing up here in NH, I didnt understand my cultural identity until I was older, as it was erased by the lack of culture around. Dont want that for my kids.

    We dont have much money so we are in a hard place trying to figure out how to move closer to Boston, but we will figure it out somehow. We will definitely down size a lot. That will be worth being part of a community I feel comfortable in.

    • Liz says...

      If you dont need to stay near family or work, i suggest you get out of new england! Leaving NH in 2018 was the best choice ever. Happy to pay taxes for what I now have – incredible parks, a huge public school district, bike lanes, museums, public transit, massive library systems. I’m now in a city which struggles with inequity and inequality but in which very interesting conversations and policies are happening around these issues.

    • If you haven’t considered Worcester – look here! We’re the second largest city in all of New England! The city is diverse and housing is much more affordable than Boston. Worcester certainly has it’s issues, but it’s a city with heart and we’re working on them.

    • Christine says...

      I totally see and relate to where you’re coming from, Lael! My husband and I live in a small Southern city, and we really hope to move to a bigger/more diverse city before we have children. The thought of sending our future kids to a predominately white public or private school makes my stomach churn. My husband is a POC, and I’d love for our kids to have a diverse education and community to help them develop and become proud of who they are and proud of the color of their skin. Best to you as you seek a new home for your family!

  17. Arianne says...

    I’m in my first year of a two year MBA program, and two weeks into quarantine I tucked my cat into her carrier and left my cozy one bedroom apartment in DC to stay with my mom in Arizona for what I thought would be a few weeks. Four months later, I’ve been living in my childhood bedroom, interning remotely, and helping my dad recover from a serious bike accident and subsequent broken hip surgery. So many things have become clear – mainly, that I want desperately to live less than a five hour flight from my parents, to be on the west coast, to live somewhere with sunshine and space, somewhere where I have some hope of buying my own condo or home in the next few years, AND simultaneously that I crave my own space and independence. And that I am really able to be so happy and fulfilled alone because I have such deep friendships and connections, and that those take work and are essential. And that while my decision to leave politics last year and go back to school was the right one for me, I will always have a tiny ping of regret that I’m not spending my life working to elect officials who will fight to keep people safe and put peoples’ wellbeing and justice and quality of life over some bullshit idea of “the economy.” (Phew. a rant!)

    One thing that didn’t change – my certainty that adopting my cat luna last year was the BEST DECISION I’VE EVER MADE.

    Finally, I am aware of such immense privilege that I have to not be worried about money or being laid off or being forced to go back to work or having to work full time and be a fulltime teacher with kids at home. I see a lot of people here expressing guilt at having feelings of sadness or disappointment in spite of their privileges. One thing my therapist always reminds me is “empathy is not a pie, with slices that run out – it’s a fire, that grows as you add to it”. Being compassionate with yourself allows you to be more empathetic to the challenges and heart breaks of others. I can mourn the grad school experience I won’t get to have, the end of my time in a city I love but have grown out of, while simultaneously being so so grateful for how much I do have and doing my best to care for and support those who are suffering.

  18. C says...

    I think Taylor’s comment really captures my feelings but as someone getting ready to give birth in two months, I wanted to add that the people I’m most inspired by these past few years are CHILDREN (and teenagers). We’ve all watched as the younger generation has stepped up en masse to protest gun violence, climate change, systematic racism and more… they do more to turn the tide than I remember my generation doing at that age (I’m early 30s) and I expect other generations will follow suit. While you may not believe in “us” anymore, I encourage you to see children as our opportunity to raise conscious, compassionate and moral beings that will change our world for the better. That’s my goal at least and I’m more aware than ever how important it is to do that in my role as a mother.

  19. N. says...

    I already knew I was in a different income bracket than many of your readers, but reading comment after comment of people saying that quarantine made them realize their apartment was too small so now they are buying a house really throws that into sharp relief. To cupofjo’s credit, there are very few times I have felt like I don’t belong here—but this was one of them.

    • Sasha L says...

      Hugs N. I have felt like this. Pretty much every sponsor is out of my reach.

      I’m feeling very lucky to want to stay exactly where I’m at, but if I needed to leave, I couldn’t. My income has shrunk dramatically due to covid, and it wasn’t much to begin with.

    • Nica says...

      Yeah N. I feel ya on this! I love COJ but this post and comments feel really “off” to me

    • Another N says...

      N – I struggled reading these comments too, and I say that from the perspective of having a relatively secure job, a husband who was lucky enough to get hired on full time at a large corporation right before COVID-19 hit, and no kids. We have been so incredibly lucky during this pandemic, and yet, I feel like I’m living in a completely different world than some readers. I try not to begrudge anyone wanting to live their best life or find their joy, but it’s hard when there’s such a wide gulf between people who have the means to move/buy a house/go on a grand adventure and others who are fighting for their lives or barely getting by. I’m not trying to judge anyone, but, yeah, I definitely don’t feel like I belong in this conversation, and, as others have said, something about the tone feels hard to swallow when so many people are sick and dying.

    • AG says...

      Yes yes yes we maybe in the same income bracket because I feel the same way. BIG HUGS.

    • Ibtisaam says...

      As someone qualified in Economics, I would just like to point out that the “privileged” are necessary in that they create jobs for others, e.g. beauty services, domestic help, manufacturing, entertainment etc. The major flaws of capitalism notwithstanding (the widening inequality due to the ability to earn income off assets, not labour, see T.Piketty), if true “equality” is sought, we would go back to subsistence farming.

  20. E says...

    I need to ask a serious, not-snarky, not-judgmental question to all of the people here starting/expanding families: how have you found the spirit and resilience to bring a new human into the world right now?

    My faith in humanity began to disappear in November 2016, and over the past four months it’s vanished entirely. The Arctic is burning. Children are dying en masse from gun violence; no one protests that. We are “led” by a dangerous sociopath. And oh yes, there’s an out-of-control viral pandemic, too. How do you believe in people enough to bring kids into the world? I don’t believe in us anymore, and the planet clearly wants us gone – we just refuse to listen.

    Any thoughts on this are much appreciated, as I’d love to find some hope out there. I have none whatsoever.

    • Taylor says...

      I commented below–but I’m having my first kiddo in 14 days. The answer is pretty easy–children represent hope. The promise of a better tomorrow.

      I’ve always wanted kids for the normal, selfish human reasons–I want to be a mom, my relationship with my parents is special and I want to have that relationship and responsibility towards another person, I genuinely love children and am up to the task of loving one (or a few) unconditionally and trying to give them a good, meaningful life full of opportunity. When I met my husband I felt that I had met someone who would not only make a great father and parent too, but also had so much love to give a child. We are absolutely overspilling with love for this baby, she’s not even here yet and we play a game coming up with every insane thing we’d do to protect her, make her happy, make her feel loved.

      Do I wish my baby wasn’t born in the US right now, during a politically polarized pandemic under a Donald Trump presidency while our rainforests burn? Of course–but, and not to be super cliched and quote MLK Jr, but his quote “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice” is useful here. Whenever I was younger and friends would say “man I would love to live in the 60s! or the 80s!” I’d always laugh and say I wish I could be born 100 years from now, 200 years from now. I’m only 29 years younger than my mom and the opportunities and freedoms and experiences that I’ve been able to have she couldn’t have imagined when she was my age–I’ll be 29 when I give birth to my daughter and I have hope that the same will be true for her.

    • Hallie says...

      Respectfully, do you really believe all of that? The birds continue, the trees continue, the wildflowers bloom. Spring came this year with rebirth. Our world is changing, no doubt. My toddler reminds me what life is really, truly about. We are part of nature. And mother nature rules all. Years ago, I turned off my television, I quit social media, and I focused on finding the beauty in every day life. It has worked. Nature is not out to destroy us (it does appear humans are, haha). I will live the rest of my days, however long they may be, raising a humble and charitable human amongst life that finds a way to survive. I believe there is more than this life on earth. And I don’t truly believe everything they are trying to sell us. I wish the best to you; with sunshine, bees, and giggling toddlers in your midst.

    • Emily L says...

      I am completely struggling with the same thing. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years and after 2 miscarriages and the current state of the world I’m questioning if I want to keep trying.

    • Suzanne says...

      Kids are fascinating, resilient, silly, and beautiful creatures, and mine give me a daily reminder that the future is real and here with me every day. Even with the news headlines are bleak, a child’s world is remarkably tiny — it’s you, their lunch, their siblings, their park/yard/living room/classroom. Even with the bad news, we’re doing pretty well as a global civilization (vaccines! public education! endless storage for knowledge/data! efficient Dutch farming practices!). I came to parenting fully aware of the pros and cons of living in the modern world, and knowing that the joy of seeing them grow and learn is worthwhile for me and them.

    • Sasha L says...

      Hugs E.

      I love my grown children so dearly. They are everything to me. I don’t regret them for a second but……I worry that perhaps it was wrong to bring them into a world that looks like this. Was the world better in 1996 and 1998? No, of course not. But I was hopeful then that it was getting better. I’m not so sure now. And my greatest suffering is worry for their future. I can’t imagine what that worry would feel like if they were only toddlers right now?

      Neither of them currently think they want children, for all of the reasons you state. And also because we treat mothers like crap in our culture. They don’t want to choose between being financially stable and being moms, but our country makes you, unless you are born with wealth, and they were not. We have no safety net. And it’s terrifying, esp now.

      I hear you and I understand and my heart hurts for everyone who wants to be a mom but is afraid to.

    • Christine says...

      I’m not a parent, nor do I intend on becoming one. That decision was one I knew about myself way before 2016. But That aside, I entirely agree with your feeling like faith in humanity began disappearing in November 2016, and has high-speed accelerated since March of this year. I am not a doom & gloom type of person. I am just feeling entirely lost right now for what the future holds or where to put my energy (what little is left of it after my anxieties and insatiable need for information which leads to more anxiety and you see where I am going with this…). I feel powerless when the systems and people in positions of power repeatedly fail us as a whole. I know you were asking for hope, and I am doing a horrible job!) But I too am struggling in believing in the world we now find ourselves in but I KNOW this is a temporary moment in time. Inevitably things will change. Every single day I am grasping for whatever tiny part I can play in making the future better — I still don’t know what that even is, it could be voting, donating, marching, small personal exchanges of love and generosity. But I won’t stop trying.

    • L says...

      Thanks for saying this more kindly and eloquently than I have been able to. I very much want children and am “getting to that age”.

      Some days I torment myself by asking: What will we tell our children when they confront us for bringing us into a burning world with such gaping divides in socioeconomic classes that they do not stand a chance?

      Some days I think: We all live, we all die. Children will adapt into the world their born, and the human spirit is incredibly resilient .

      Ultimately, I’m still undecided. But it does break my heart that my choice might be to love my (would be) children enough not to bring them into this world.

    • Heather says...

      This is a hard one..the world feels so heavy right now and so uncertain that it may feel super risky and selfish to bring a child into it…my kids have made me a completely different person (some days feel worse than others and I sometimes wish I could go back to my pre-child days) but I feel like it is a way of putting hope into the world again..not to say the pressure is on my kids to right the balance of the evil in the world but more of a “we can walk through this together/we’re on the same team/how can we put kindness into the world together” kind of way..and in that..I feel it brings hope and goodness and promise of a future into the mix of heaviness..we just keep walking through together and learning and growing through the hard stuff and trying to soak up the good stuff..and be decent humans as we walk through the hard stuff..all the best to you E..I hope you are able to feel a heart nudge of hope and joy…❤️

    • N. says...

      I loved the recent nytimes article by Carvell Wallace about parenting. For me it really captured the terrible beauty of parenting.

    • Yvonne says...

      I understand why you are feeling the way you do. I feel the same way and I will not bring children into this world. Hugs.

    • E says...

      As another E, I am thinking about this so much too. It is also interesting to me that many of the responses in this mini-thread have connected biological parenthood–like, I don’t want to have a child, therefore I am not a parent. To me, adoption seems like the possibility that allows for parenting without pregnancy… which sounds great to me! Not an easy choice and not an easy process–and as someone in a very low income bracket, I wonder whether I would ever be chosen or financially able to adopt. But I think about it a lot.

    • S says...

      What everyone else said + because those who do not care about the world or anyone else in it reproduce like bunnies. If we’re going to have a chance at making this world a better place, those of us who care need to raise some gentle-but-fierce souls to (at the very least) balance that out.

    • margaret says...

      If you are someone who deeply wants to have children, then I suspect you may need to have children to live your life in a way that won’t leave you heartsick. If you are someone who is on the fence, particularly if you are on the fence in part because of concerns about the state of the world, I encourage you to consider if you might instead become a force in the life of someone else’s child who needs help. I don’t mean adoption, unless you are considering adopting an older child, because there are generally enough people who want to adopt the babies and toddlers who need homes. I mean children who will not become “yours” but need you anyways. For example, consider becoming a court appointed special advocate for a youth in foster care. Or even becoming a foster parent. This is the path I chose and, although the volunteer work has sometimes been heartbreaking and deeply difficult, it was the right choice for me. Maybe it will be right for you too.
      Please note: My comment is not intended to cast the adoption of a baby or toddler in a negative light, particularly for those who need adoption to create a family. Just that much earlier in my life my husband and I explored this as a possibility and we learned at that time there were many more prospective parents seeking babies and toddlers from the foster care system and the world of private adoption than there were tiny children in need of parents. I am not an expert in this area, just sharing what I learned at a time in my life in my corner of the world.

    • ANOTHER E says...

      I’m also an E (third one on this thread), and I have similar thoughts to both other Es. I don’t think I want children, for several reasons, including not wanting to bring a child into this world. I’m also 99.9% sure I don’t ever want to be pregnant. So I’ve thought quite a bit about adoption, since I could try to provide the best life I can to a child already in this world. I found Margaret’s comment very interesting, since I would want to adopt an older child anyway, if I take that route. I also appreciate the suggestion of exploring other ways to make a difference in a child’s life.

  21. Crystal says...

    I really appreciate what Caroline was trying to do with this piece, but I have to echo some of the other comments and share that I feel it was a bit tone-deaf for CoJ to post something like this at a point when the pandemic is worsening by the day. It feels very “writing from our cushy, white, insular bubble” and not reflective of either the fact that there are people who have died from COVID or that there are people for whom the pandemic has been truly unbearable.

    It’s all well and good for us to share about how “privileged” “lucky” and “fortunate” we feel, but completely misses the point. This pandemic, while it surely has silver linings for some, has taken an incredible toll on many. It’s disheartening to read the comments and this piece and only see that reality reflected as a passing thought before listing all of the ways some are “more fortunate” than others.

    • Abbe says...

      Well said, Crystal. I understand that the pandemic has changed all our lives, but it feels a bit tone deaf to write a lighthearted piece about buying houses when so many people (130,000 and counting in the U.S. alone!!) have died, or will face very real long term health consequences, or have lost loved ones. It smacks of the same narrow-mindedness that is leading lots of folks to stop wearing masks because no one *they* know is actively sick.

      I understand CoJ’s intentions with this piece — obviously even for those of us who haven’t experienced the more devastating consequences of COVID this had led to a lot of life changes. But to not even mention the death, grief, and crushing loss gripping many people right now feels extremely privileged.

    • Nica says...

      Yes thank you Crystal, so well said. I’ve been scrolling through comment after comment just shocked (but then again, to echo N.’s comment above, not *really* shocked) at the ease with which commenters are sharing their experiences of making huge life changes and “following their bliss”, sometimes with a passing mention of “but of course we are so lucky/blessed/fortunate”. I’m truly happy for you, but I would love to see more self-accountability in naming these attitudes for what they are–not luck, not blessings, but privilege (white privilege)! It’s not even so much what people are saying or even Caroline’s post, to me it’s just a bit cringey to see the “woe is me” comraderie people are finding in the comments for having cancelled European vacations…

    • Jen says...

      This. Yes. Thank you Crystal.

      CoJ, you got so much right when you were steadily posting content to call out racism. Keep going – help us “see” systemic racism in even the most seemingly light hearted content.

      Imagine if this post also touched on the practice of redlining – both historical and current manifestations, the racist history of who was allowed to move to suburbs, who had access to home loans after WW2, etc.

    • Jenny says...

      I didn’t really get that from this post (I’m not white and I’m unemployed, so do with that what you want). The purpose was to reflect on how our plans may have changed because of the pandemic – Reevaluating your life because of the pandemic or for any reason isn’t exclusive to any one group of people. Caroline’s example of fantasy house hunting doesn’t really scream privilege to me – it was an extreme example. If you’re on the front lines, if you’ve had loved ones die, if you’ve lost your job – No matter what, we’re all in a place forcing us to look at life differently than we probably did in February.

    • Rachel Hauge says...

      Thank you for articulating why this piece didn’t sit right with me. I don’t begrudge anyone their financial stability, but it felt strange to discuss so much choice and freedom as evictions will become a reality for so many Americans as they run out of choices.

    • margaret says...

      I love this community and I am deeply grateful to be able to read all of these comments from so many perspectives. One of the things I like best is how respectfully we dissent from one another and disagree. In that spirit, I’d like to offer my own thought. The pain in the world right now is soul-crushing. The dangers that exist right now for black people, sick people, economically vulnerable people, and frankly all of us (because none of us can assume we are safe from this virus because we are not) are terrifying. It’s hard to sleep and breathe sometimes. I really need to think some thoughts and read some pieces that are separate from the terror and horror. Cup of Jo is one of my comforts. I don’t think Caroline’s decision to write about house-buying fantasies is anything like someone who won’t wear a mask. It’s just brightening our day a bit so we can carry on.

    • Paige says...

      Of course Caroline is aware of the pain others are going through; we all are. There is enough space for everyone to feel the weight of life right now. We cannot and should not deny our own struggles because someone has it worse off than us–we should acknowledge our privilege AND tend to our own hearts. It’s an AND, not an OR. There is room for everyone.