Like any normal human being, my first instinct is to complain about things that aren’t going my way. Given this unprecedented year we are having, I feel like I have complained so much about so many things that I am now complaining to you about being tired of complaining too much. Exhausting, I know.

In the beginning, I felt that venting about my fears and frustrations was quite therapeutic in dealing with coronavirus and our dismal political situation. It was good to know that I wasn’t alone in how I felt. It provided a sense of solidarity with others who were also suffering because of lost jobs, needy children, loneliness, or all of the above.

And then, one morning, when I was still in bed, awake but not yet ready to get up, I heard my five-year-old son whisper to his three-year-old brother to let mama rest, and after hearing them dragging stools and making a lot of noise in the kitchen, I discovered them laughing and conversing about dinosaurs over bowls of cereal and milk.

Not to say this scenario needed a global pandemic to take place, but there was something about it that made me realize that many good things have come of us being locked down and left to our own devices. We have all become more resourceful. We have all managed to squeeze in countless responsibilities in our already-full schedules. We have all put our best foot forward (whether you believe it yet or not) and marched on.

Later the same day, I sat down with a pen and paper and made a list of all the good things that were a direct result of my family’s new normal and/or would have never happened otherwise because there was never enough time. This is what I wrote down:

  1. Countless visits to beautiful parks and nature preserves
  2. Bike rides on the greenways
  3. Walking to the grocery store and the farmer’s market
  4. Children cooking, cleaning, and helping in a much bigger capacity
  5. Playing card games and board games daily
  6. Family reading hour while listening to mellow music on Alexa
  7. Making home videos
  8. Driving way, way less
  9. Trusting kids with harder and more complicated things
  10. Writing letters and sending cards (for which I think we must have set some kind of record if I was actually keeping track)

Nothing on this list is too ambitious or crazy. But I am surprised that they were all wishes and desires until now.

Ms. Kelci, the best preschool teacher that ever existed, in my opinion, often used the phrase “you can do hard things” when my five-year-old whined and complained in her class about whatever it is that he was trying to do. Funny how the advice rings so true even outside a preschool classroom. I find myself repeating those words quietly several times a day. It’s my pep talk to myself, to acknowledge that these are indeed hard times and that I am strong enough to deal with them.

I leave you with yet another quote, this one from a 17th-century English historian named Thomas Fuller, who said, “all things are difficult before they are easy.”

Think of all those things that seemed so impossible to accomplish in March of this year, but look how well you are doing them now. Might I even add that you are enjoying some of these non-normal times? However long we have to deal with this proverbial tunnel, let’s remind ourselves that it isn’t always dark.

CHIKA GUJARATHI is a Raleigh-based writer and author of the Hello Namaste! children’s books. Her work can be found on her blog The Antibland Chronicles. Comment on this column at

Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club.