From sports and research jobs during my undergraduate studies, externships during dental school and residency, and the joys of being a solo private practice owner, it’s been a while since I’ve had anything remotely close to a summer break, but it doesn’t stop me from asking most of my patients: “What are you doing this summer?” in the months approaching their summer vacation.
After all, I am a pediatric dentist and most kids I ask are doing something fun: camp, traveling throughout Northern Virginia, getting a job, playing video games, etc.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 changed everyone’s plans for a “normal” summer, including my own.
Per our state governor’s mandate, my office was closed for over two and a half months (I was able to handle emergencies, but my practice was closed for routine care). Although COVID-19 brought many hardships and challenges, my practice closure meant I was able to spend time with my family and parents for a “summer break” that I have not had in years.
Growing up, I always had family dinners – regardless of how busy life was – and for the first time in my adult life – I was able to resume them. There was an extra glass of wine at the table now, but there was also the same laughter, happiness, and a sense of love that I often took for granted growing up. Maybe it was the unknown fear of COVID-19 piercing the veil of immortality I often carry myself with, but my priorities shifted, and the things I took for granted meant more.
I found myself savoring the same cup of coffee I drink every morning more; I found the air on my face while walking the dog more refreshing; I found myself looking forward to family dinners even more than usual. I found a renewed sense of what is important to me and what is not.
The pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways, but one silver lining is that it helped remind me to slow down and appreciate things that truly mean the most: family and health, and for that reminder, I am thankful.
Dr. Peter Markov is a pediatric dentist and owner of VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, Northern Virginia. He is passionate about pediatric dentistry and children’s overall wellness. You can find him staying active paddle boarding, rock climbing, and hiking in Northern Virginia (Arlington and McLean) and DC.