There was a time, before my kids were born, when I was unaware of how much time I had on my hands. Country life meant isolation and well-planned trips into town. We made them count.

As my family increased, reading to the kids, having family dinners, and making sure homework was done took precedence over time spent on AOL. In those days, my cell phone cost 27 cents per minute, and was only good for calls. We gardened, and canned our food.

Fast forward to the late 1980s, when I was working full-time, raising three children, and completing a Bachelor’s degree. By the mid-1990s, the kids were still young, I still worked full-time, and I finished my master’s. My youngest child finished college when I was 49. Looking back on the blur, I wish I could remember more of those days.

There wasn’t ever enough time to get things done. All the baking and canning gave way to prepared store-bought foods. We lived in a hurried vacuum.

Flashing back, the constant feeling of having forgotten something is what I remember best about those days. How I wished for an occasional evening without dance classes, track meets, conferences, or games where the girls were cheering; until the fear of Empty Nest crept in. Suddenly, I savored every last living room full of teen-agers, every pick-up and drop-off and every empty milk gallon. I worked three jobs.

Reflecting on the rushed 28 years from the birth of the first until the last one finished college has caused me to wonder if I got my wish. Did it take a pandemic to make us slow down and stay home?

We’re certainly staying home now! Our farmers market set-up won’t resume until at least mid-May. I’m happily spending endless hours at my new career: sewing masks.

I used to laugh about my cats watching CATV: Every window a different channel! Now I have time to look out the windows to watch the birds. I don’t make that throaty “Ackackack” sound, though.

It’s not funny anymore that we need haircuts. I plan to hug my nail tech before having her make my toes pretty again. During life in lockdown, we’ve experienced the death of freedoms we took for granted, like runs to the store for milk and bread.

We’ve gone in and out of the Kübler-Ross five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While our inner introverts rejoiced at not having to get dressed or make plans, we now wait as anxiously as our dogs do for someone, anyone, to please approach the house with an Amazon delivery or the mail.

This is COVID-19 in 2020. We’re neighborly again. We have time to reacquaint ourselves with those at home. Well, not all of us. Some folks are sweating whether their small businesses will survive. Some are Essential, and managing their children's remote education.

I’m happy to report Honey is still safe at home with me. We aren’t taking verbal shots or putting masking tape boundaries on the floor to protect personal spaces. He’s so supportive.

We’ve developed serious respect for time-management and liberty. The more things change, the more they truly do stay the same. Even in a pandemic.

Cindy Kline lives in Sturgis. She would enjoy hearing your feedback at cmyr@aol.com.