Let's Stay Home

Remember being a kid on the morning of a snow day?  Sitting in your pajamas at 5:30am eating cereal and watching the ticker or listening to the guy on the radio go through the alphabetical list of school closings? My brother and I would fidget, waiting for the monotone voice to rattle off the name of our town followed by that glorious word…”Closed.”

The rest of the day lay in front of us, an unexpected respite from all expectations.  That science test wasn’t going to happen, practice was cancelled, everyone was home. Mom would bake something and dad would help us find the sled later.  That soft white blanket had a way of muffling the world for a bit, quieting its noise and stilling its frantic movement. Just for a little while.  

I won’t be as naive as to compare our current situation to a snow day.  This is a scary moment for us all. But I won’t give in to the panic, and I won’t complain about inconvenience when so many people are tirelessly at work to keep us safe.  To keep things running the best they can. To keep hold of their own lives.

Today was our first day of “self-quarantine”.  My husband and I are both lucky enough to be able to do our jobs from home, and our kids’ school district has mandated distance learning for the next two weeks.  We have what we need and have decided, like many others, to lay low in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19. What I didn’t expect today was the sense of peace that came over my husband and me as we spent the day around the house with the kids.  It is extremely freeing to cut all commitments: no lessons, no birthday parties, no company, no errands. No social pressure of any kind. We sat around and had a few cups of coffee while the kids played. We all went outside and slowly explored our backyard, noticing all the buds on the trees.  I made sweet tea in the afternoon. No agenda, no mobilizing. My middle never changed out of his pajamas.  

We got around to disassembling the crib.  The one in which all three of my babies have slept.  Our youngest is two and a half and ready for the toddler bed, but the transition has been one more thing we’ve been too busy to do.  As my husband took apart the crib, I was well aware of the bittersweet milestone. We have been in the baby phase for the last 6 years and this morning was the last time I would see a chubby little face peeking at me between those rails.   I am a different person from the day we assembled that piece of furniture. But how nice it was to hold my sweet boy today, breathe in his fleeting babyhood, and reflect upon this moment. To watch him reach for a balloon with those plump little fingers, to feel his soft cheek next to mine as I rocked him for a nap.  To remember how incredibly grateful I am for their health, for their happiness, for our family. Today, just for a little while, time slowed down.  

In the face of a threat, we see more clearly what matters.  Life goes on at a breakneck pace, and I know it is easier said than done to disengage from obligations.  But right now, chances are many of us are finding ourselves at home. Not without worry, not without tasks, but at home.  Instead of fretting about the wrath of the storm, which I cannot control, I am going to embrace what happens inside these walls.  I can make my home a place my family wants to be. I can feed them healthy food to help keep their bodies strong. I can be present, fully absorbing these precious, numbered days where all they want is my attention.  I don’t know what the weeks ahead will bring. But as long as we are here, together, I will be thankful for this time and make the most of it.

One day we will tell stories about these days.  About the empty grocery store shelves, the social distancing, the homeschooling.  We’ll laugh at the toilet paper feuds and we’ll shudder to remember how unsettled we all were in a moment of uncertainty.  I pray to God not many of us will have to look back and remember loss.

But I hope we also remember how a common enemy tends to bring out the best in us.  I hope we remember being resourceful and innovative, generous and strong. I hope we remember how we all took care of each other. 

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