The other day, Anya told me that though there is a lot she misses about normality, this Stuck at Home (Safer at Home, I corrected her, but she’s not wrong) thing isn’t so bad. Generally I agree. I maintain that things could be much, much worse: One or both of her parents could be unemployed or underemployed. We could be living in a too-small house with no backyard to speak of, leaving me with hyper, restless kids in a crowded room full of injuries waiting to happen. I could be spending my days physically barricading the doors so they don’t sneak out and go see their Mimi, risking infecting her and killing her. I could be doing juggling acts to keep us stocked up on food and necessities while also being the sole caretaker of the kids 80% of the time.
These are not exaggerations, or projections. We’ve lived each and every one of these scenarios in Anya’s lifetime. Just, thankfully, not during a global pandemic.
So in terms of timing, this shutdown could not have come at a better time. The kids are just the right age; the loss of in-person school is a bummer, but not devastating. We’re employed, and employed in the exact right fields; while some people are struggling to make ends meet, we’re making more money than ever, and I do not have to choose between my job and my children’s safety this fall. It sucks that we have to worry so much about Mom’s health, but we can video chat and socially distance and have masked visits. The heat and the dust levels have kept us inside most of the time, but I’m not sure how much more time we’d spend outside in a normal year, and the hot, dusty summer was balanced by a long and amazingly beautiful spring.
I have become increasingly aware of these blessings, big and small, over the past year. For every down side, an up side. For every dark moment, there’s been one of joy.
Yesterday, on the drive home from the doctor (my fall last week resulted in no broken bones — a not-so-small blessing — but I did strain my back and hip), I was overcome with a wave of grief for…everything. Usually I can keep myself too busy to think about such things, but when I am alone they overwhelm me. I took the long way back, so I could have time to compose myself again.
When I returned home, I found my husband and daughter hard at work baking cookies. Gluten-free vegan cookies. Cookies just for me. And they gave me a little space to watch an episode of Dark while they baked, because they know my me time is basically nonexistent these days and I am nearly through the final season.
Truth: This post, as I’d written it in my head, was going to be about how unseen and unheard I feel much of the time — anyone with small kids knows exactly what I mean. The pandemic has only amplified this feeling. But last night I received tangible, tasty evidence that I’m seen and heard and loved.
I’m doing my best to hold on tight to these gestures. I know they will be what I will remember most when I look back at this year, but I am making a concerted effort to recognize and appreciate them as they happen, as well. We’ve lost so much, are continuing to lose so much, but not all is lost. We’re gaining, too.
The cookies are delicious.