Someone asked me what I saw today. I mean, asked what I really saw today. On the week my son has gone back to a full day of school. Back to second grade after being home for over a year. This representing both a new beginning and an end of a once in a lifetime situation. In a once in a century pandemic. The barrage of emotions reaching the surface. Gratitude, sadness, joy, pride we made it out. We made it through. Nervous of the new normal and all it will possess. So, I thought about what I really saw today looking back at this time.
Knowing our world as we knew it went on pause. Knowing it was temporary. Knowing it would one day be over. This pandemic. Knowing it would only last for a certain amount of time. Whether it be a month, a year, it was only a matter of time before science would catch up. Before a vaccine would be on the horizon. Knowing life would one day get back to a familiar setting. Aware, in the middle of a global crisis, we had been gifted time.
Time to do what we chose with. The answer to that question in each of our hands. Whatever we chose to do with it. Some chose to argue. Some chose to dive deep. Some chose to resent. Some chose to connect. Some chose to deny. Deflect. Ignore. Pretend. Pray. Dream. The world in a brief moment, was on its own. No outside forces demanding your attention, focus, presence. All only required to avoid a common enemy. A new virus we knew nothing about. A virus that had never before been in a human body. With no understanding of what it could do. How it would behave. The possibilities, the effects, the unknowns were limitless. So, we all paused.
Giving us each this moment of time while removing everything else.
Time I had always hoped for. Time I always daydreamed about what I would do with if I was ever given this break from reality. A break from the outside pressures and requests the world demands. At the same time my son was home from school, playdates, sports and all extra curricular activities stopped. My career came to a halt. My husband now working from our bedroom. Our social calendar deleted. Our trips canceled. All planning froze. Yet, the world still ticked onward. Leaving us with time.
All these goals, with now nothing but the time to do them. I could write, I could create, I could produce my dreams. I could be a banging housewife. An amazing mother. Devoting nothing but time and attention to my son. I could go through that hall closet, and that bedroom one, as well as the kitchen pantry. The fridge, the bathroom. I could learn Spanish and become a gourmet chef. Pick up a guitar, maybe even go back to piano. But most of all, we could be a family. Together. Time we would otherwise never have in his growing years. While I was still young and healthy. Time as a family I had only dreamed about as a child. Time I fantasized about this as I went back to unknowns time and time again. As I had struggled to find my own family, and as I created one as an adult.
Now, I could soak up all these moments. Building my son’s childhood into everything I used to daydream and wish. I could be the parent my mother was to me. Without feeling the pressures of the outside world. My job now to succeed in a historic year as a mom. In a time when everything became about surviving and hunkering down. Showing us what was important. What we could focus on now that everything had been removed. I saw the blessing… in the beginning.
Instead what happened was very different. What happened exposed a struggle. A struggle to adapt to the ways of my fantasy. A struggle adapting to the new roles I now had. To be the stay at home mom and all that entails. The cook, the cleaner, the disinfector. Having a young son, who still put things in his nose and mouth from time to time. I had to become a teacher. I had to learn common core math. I had to retake second grade along side of him on zoom. Seeing I wasn’t as patient as I imagined. Feeling the pressure of causing further confusion for him if I took the easy road and taught him to carry the one. Making daily breakfast, lunch and dinner for both my kid and husband. Ruining just about every meal in the process.
I got to see it wasn’t going to be as easy as I had pictured. I quickly saw I wasn’t Mary fucking Poppins. Things weren’t as simple as a spoon full of sugar. It wasn’t all songs and rainbows. I couldn’t even carry a tune. My home was smaller now with three constant bodies and somehow bigger now that I had to scrub every nook and cranny.
Switching gears from career driven to home maker. Still wanting to excel and be good, but seeing in all the areas I was falling short. I rapidly saw I might not have the time I envisioned. Still.
I got to see no matter how as much I hoped I was, when my goals and wishes required it, I wasn’t present. In fact, I was everywhere but. When I got all this time, I still found myself pulled in every direction. When everything vanished, I still managed to mentally disappear as well. To another place, to many places, to any place, but the right here and right now. When in my dreams, that was all I wanted. I wasn't present. But I needed to be.
When cooking requires me not to burn it. Setting off the fire alarm so many times I have traumatized the dog. She literally bee lines it upstairs now if I even enter the kitchen. When clothes wrinkle if I don’t remove them from the dryer in a timely manner. That planting requires daily watering in order to produce fruit and not die. I had to be present to listen to the teacher on a zoom class because my son was struggling in subjects. I had to give the same attention that I expected him to. When I struggled to do so myself. That writing takes more than time. That creativity demands presence and listening. What my dreams and goals needed, was for me to be present. And being present took patience, humility, courage and bravery admitting I was out of my league. It was a process exposing my truth only in a way I could by being right in the messy, disorganized, chaotic, emotional moment. Allowing myself to be honest and forgiving myself for all the times I haven't been. Including now.
I got to see I couldn’t just make his or our life easier with all this time. I couldn’t wave a magic wand and make myself better either. What we all needed, including this moment, was time. Time to explain, to focus, to relearn, to be here. Together. To expose my struggles along side his.
I finally paused along side the world. I took a deep breath and instead of trying to measure up to what I was supposed to be, I looked at what I was. As I saw what I was, I stopped fantasizing about what I wished for and then looked at what I had.
A family, a son, a home, food to prepare, clothes to wash.
Amid the chaos, the unknown, I saw what I had neglected. I saw what I had run from. As the world gifted me a pause, I saw it was the pause itself that I never embraced. I realized I never would. Without this chance. This miracle, wrapped in a virus, tied in a pandemic. The universe not able to be any more obvious. Somehow, I magically heard it. I stopped. I needed time. To heal, to grow, to recover, to pause, to be here. Giving me everything I always wished I could have had… and in the process seeing I had everything I wished.
It showed me where I hadn’t spent focus and time. How precious and crucial this time together was. The gift to learn with him. Growing along side. Seeing where he needed help and showing him where I did as well. Seeing the beauty in the imperfection. The journey in the struggle. Exposing to him the areas I could improve, showing him, we all have those tough subjects. Life a constant chance for growth.
Seeing parts of each other we otherwise never would have. Because the world froze. Because we lost everything we revolved around. Because all that was left was each other. And seeing all we had.
Suddenly, those meals I made took a different turn, the cleaning was suddenly easier now seeing we had a place, a home, to clean, to rest our heads, to be safe. I got to see how everything I was chasing was the wrong things. I got to spend time writing and creating, and doing my dreams, because I got to be present enough to listen. To enjoy this crazy ass journey.
I got to see all the gifts I had right under my nose that I now was given time to focus on. This chapter in the book of my life becoming the most spiritual, the most vulnerable, the most gratifying, the most honest, the most raw, the most description of who I want to be.
So, what I saw today, what I really saw, was the pause. In a once in a century pandemic. The barrage of emotions reaching the surface. Gratitude, sadness, joy, pride we made it out. We made it through. Nervous of the new normal and all it will possess. But most of all, the blessing this new beginning has shown me. The time it gave me, forever teaching me to never take it for granted and to always notice everything we have right under our noses.