My youngest son, age 9, hasn’t seen his friends in 12 days. Tonight is the third night in a row he has cried himself to sleep, and the third night I have felt my parenting skills crumble far below what is required during a pandemic. I walk the hallway from his room to mine with more guilt and unworthiness than I felt in my teens. I am tempted to binge another mindless series on Netflix, but my weary brain is coherent enough to know I need sleep. I climb in bed, defeated.
The following morning, I am greeted by the sun peaking its cheery self through the curtains of my bedroom. I am annoyed by its silent and upbeat tune that wakes me up and forces me to notice another day has come. It’s the first social distancing weekend we have had together as a family, and the first weekend in a decade without a dance competition and a handful of baseball games. What does a family of five do on the weekend without a schedule?
I brew a pot of coffee and notice I take a lengthy inhale, allowing the aroma to seep into my senses. I step outside, greeting Mr. Sunshine with an apologetic nod, and place my bare feet in the grass while I close my eyes. There is a calmness in my demeanor that didn’t fall asleep with me. The sky is a brilliant blue, a blue I have never acknowledge. I curl up in a chair on the deck and start journaling. As I raise my head to take in the lake view, I am awakened by what my body is naturally doing: I am savoring. Savoring a fresh cup of coffee, the grass between my toes, the view, my journal, and the stillness I feel. When you savor something, you enjoy it completely, and I wonder when I last took the time to savor anything.
As my youngest son wakes, he climbs on my lap and tucks his lanky limbs into the center of my body. Forgetting about his tear-drenched pillow from the night before, he asks, “What are we doing today?”
“We have no plans today, bud. Maybe we should build a fort,” I reply at random.
“Yes!” his excitement creating joy within me.
I soak in the innocence of him a minute longer. Then we lace up our shoes to go for a morning run before we construct the best junk pile fort you have ever seen. We aren’t arguing about where he last put his baseball belt or rushing out the door to make it on time to an appointment. Our conversations are filled with things we notice, the birds chirping, how peaceful worms are (his observation), and how many families are outside. We are learning to savor what we have because so much has been taken from us.
As we sit down to enjoy dinner as a family, at the actual dinner table, I recognize my children lingering a bit longer for conversation (even the teenagers), and not only savoring the food we prepared but the connection we have with one another. The Coronavirus can send frustration, fear, anxiety, and anger through the hallways of my home, in every post on social media, and every news article, but there will forever be a cheery light of savoring that seeps through our windows.
Tomorrow, I’m going to open the curtains a little wider, hug my children a little longer, voice my love to my friends and family, and only allow the Coronavirus to change one thing forever— how I savor my life.