Almost exactly four years ago, the world came to a screeching halt. Coronavirus entered the building, and the world we know hasn’t been the same since.

Suddenly, the classroom was in our living room. My office was at the dining room table. And family tensions were sky high. There was no alone time, no leisurely strolls through Target, no lunches with friends, no playdates for the kiddos. Parents became everything and nothing, all at once, and we struggled to find the silver lining on any of it.

Looking Back

Looking back, I definitely felt like I was drowning. I wasn’t proud of myself. It was hard to keep up with the corporate work, the academic learning, the household chores (remember washing our groceries before we even let them in the house?), and still remaining a loving parent and partner to the people that needed us most, within our own four walls.

The funny part is that I actually think that COVID made me a better parent than I would have been otherwise.

When I think of the soul-crushing anxiety that the pandemic brought, I also am able to see areas where I rose to the occasion. I became a better cook, a more patient teacher, and a more avid gardener. It forced me to adapt, think on my feet, and see things from a new perspective. The skills I developed during COVID were out of necessity, but they opened my eyes to skills and hobbies that I probably would not have pursued otherwise. Hobbies that now shape my life and let me share with others in my community.

New Opportunities

In fact, I recently left my job after 16 years with the same company. I feel like the skills I acquired in the pandemic have shaped me into a new person, a person who simply can’t be satisfied sitting in front of a computer answering emails for 8 hours a day. Despite the financial insecurity, I’ve taken a leap of faith, and with my family we’ve decided to explore some new opportunities. Ones that allow me to be the mom I need to be, and let me be with my kids more during the days. While I know how lucky I am to even be able to take this first step, I feel confident that my new path will be one of growth and fulfillment, even if it takes awhile to replace that previous income entirely.

What I realize now, that I didn’t see then, is that after every storm, comes a rainbow. And I’m in love with all of its colors.

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Jen Hooper
Jen grew up in Simi Valley, singing and dancing both regionally and on screen. While she dreamt of going to Broadway, her body had other ideas, landing her with a decade of ankle operations and lots of recovery. But every storm has its rainbow, and it's in Simi where she met the love of her life, Chris, and has 2 gorgeous daughters - Leiana (10) and Kalea (8). Recently "retired" from her desk job, you'll often find her teaching dance, teaching sourdough classes, leading the PTA at her kids school or harvesting veggies in her huge backyard garden. And don't worry, she still sings in her car, so if you pull up next to her at a light, you might catch a melody or two.


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