Zach’s ugly mug (his face) Zach Leatherman

A Pandemic By Any Other Name

March 15, 2021

It’s been a year. It’s been a hard year. It has been, it’s still being.

Relationships have strained—some have broken. Some need time and space, fresh air before repairs can begin. We will each move forward in our own way, changed by this experience.

I’ve been feeling introspective, prompted primarily by this article by Ellen Cushing for The Atlantic: Late-Stage Pandemic Is Messing With Your Brain.

For me the article highlights extreme differences in how we are experiencing this weird and terrible time. In some ways, my own experience as a parent has amplified a feeling of how little free-time parents have, coupled with time that is not free spent double or triple booked in the endlessly distracted purgatory of multitasking. One can only imagine the increased amplification for single parents.

This is in stark contrast to Ellen’s perspective, a void of unfilled and unfulfilled free time, melting together. Her perspective—different and strange from own—has reminded me to be grateful for the unique positives that I have in my own life—things that Ellen wishes she had that perhaps I had been taking for granted.

I’m grateful to have little ones in my life—our home is always full. Now that I’ve been a dad for almost six years, I feel qualified to say that kids increase your life’s emotional range. The highs are higher. The lows are lower. If you were living between a 3 and a 7 before, kids can extend you to a 1-10 (and sometimes they run the gamut in one ten minute stretch). Monotony seems like a long forgotten memory. I’m thankful for that.

I’m grateful to be a husband. My incredible, strong, patient wife is the reason for the best things in my life.

I’m grateful to have been a remote worker in the before times. With remote work the new-normal—I’ve both trained for this and am acutely aware of how the pandemic has increased the difficulty of effective remote work. I waded willingly into the shallow end of the pool instead of being thrown into the deep end, so to speak. I’m also grateful that remote work will likely continue in a larger capacity long after this time has passed.

I’m grateful to live outside the city. Quiet, unpopulated, (safe) fresh air is always just a few steps away.

I’m grateful for our dog. We humans don’t deserve the pure and constant happiness of dogs.

Some of the things I’ve listed here might not be what you’re grateful for. In fact—for you—they might be the opposite. Maybe you’re grateful to live in the city where food and supplies are more easily accessible. There are negatives that pair with each positive. But for life to feel balanced in difficult times, it was helpful for me to make a gratefulness list. Maybe you have things in your life that make you grateful too.

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Zach Leatherman IndieWeb Avatar for a builder for the web at IndieWeb Avatar for He is the creator and maintainer of IndieWeb Avatar for https://www.11ty.devEleventy (11ty), an award-winning open source site generator. At one point he became entirely too fixated on web fonts. He has given 79 talks in nine different countries at events like Beyond Tellerrand, Smashing Conference, Jamstack Conf, CSSConf, and The White House. Formerly part of Netlify, Filament Group, NEJS CONF, and NebraskaJS. Learn more about Zach »


IndieWeb Avatar for https://www.alvinashcraft.comRussell Heimlich


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  1. Jordan Moore 𐃏


    You've summed up my experience with the pandemic and my kids perfectly. It's given me deep introspection. I'm filled with gratitude about the time we've spent together, the highs and lows, and the coming to terms with the internal guilt of enjoying it against a te… Truncated

  2. Scott Jehl


    Good to read and hear. Since long before the pandemic, we've kept a habit of talking about whatever we're grateful for each day when we sit down for dinner (like saying grace, but non-religious in our case). Seemed to be particularly helpful this year.

  3. Zach Leatherman


    Yes! We do a thing we call “Goods, Bads, and Funnies” at dinner time almost every day—seems similar 👍🏻

  4. Zach Leatherman


    Yes, all the emotions!

  5. Adam Lynch


    thanKS FOr That. HEadS UP A tYpo; "LAte-StAgE paNdeMic Is mISSING with Your BRaIn." (misSINg -&gT; MeSSiNg)

  6. Matt Lehrer


    “kids increase your life’s emotional range” is a great line/thought. Definitely agree

  7. Zach Leatherman


    Thanks! Fixed now 🙌🏻

  8. Adam Lynch


    I thought it was a clever article title at first 😁

  9. Chris Heninger


    Great post Zach, a majority of the things you wrote resonate with me and I’m glad you took the time to write so that I could read. 😊 “If you were living between a 3 and a 7 before, kids can extend you to a 1-10” 😅😂

  10. Zach Leatherman


    Thanks Chris!

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