It’s been four years since my last post and it all seems like a lifetime with COVID in the mix. Like many of you, the last two of them have forced me to reflect on what’s important and how fleeting time is.
My kids LITERALLY grew up during COVID. For those I don’t know personally, a little back story – I have three kids, each seven years apart, but that’s a story for another post! In the years prior to COVID I had come to realize that the year 2020 would bring significant milestones for each one – my daughter’s last year of preschool, my youngest son’s last year of elementary and my oldest son’s last year of high school. Naturally, I anticipated this could be a tough year emotionally, so I did my best to mentally prepare by telling anyone who would listen about the significance of 2020 while practicing holding back tears. At the time, I had no idea this would all be amplified by a looming pandemic or that said pandemic would provide the opportunity to experience each event in a way I could never have imagined.
Today, let’s talk about my daughter. She was not even two the last time I posted and is now a curiosity-driven almost-six-year-old with a knack for challenging every “no” that comes her way with a persistence that will outlast any tired, half-hearted rebuttals. Like every kid around the world, our girl spent the last two years living her carefree preschool days behind a mask, unable to see the joyful smiles of her classmates or enjoy their company from less than six feet away. During that time, she spent many days under the careful watch of Disney+ (seriously, we’re in the top 10% of their 60M subscriber base!) while my husband and I worked – jumping from video call to video call. And through it all, the one thing she taught me over the last two years is that looking at life through the lens of a child you’ll find wisdom you didn’t know existed.
During the height of my family’s COVID craziness, my daughter witnessed my husband with curious eyes as he carefully put on his strange new “grocery store outfit” in prep to leave the safe confines of our home and brave the half-empty, sometimes cut-throat shopping aisles at our local store. As he closed the door, I noticed her sitting on the couch with her nebulizer mask fastened firmly on her face. When I asked what she was doing, she innocently responded “I’m pretending I’m going to the supermarket!”. This was the first time I truly saw life from her perspective. As a then three year old girl, I had admittedly underestimated how much of the behaviors around her she observed and understood but this moment made it all so clear.
On another occasion, she followed me around the house with our iPad keyboard as I walked from one room to another with my laptop. As I got to my final destination and set up to start the work day, I heard her say as she played alone “I can’t put this down, I have to work.”. I immediately felt the dreaded mom guilt we all feel the minute we are made conscious that despite our best efforts, the image we leave with our children may be different than what we intended. Although I had been working out of necessity for the six months prior and FULLY maximizing lunch breaks for crafting, experimenting and re-discovering the great outdoors, I immediately felt like I hadn’t done enough to maximize my gift of extra time with her. Fortunately, my husband made me realize later that although it might not have been my intention, the example I was setting for her was one of hard work, and that was not a bad thing.
Looking back, I am still sad that she was robbed of her last two toddler years. That the girl who used to choose toys over TV every time now knows every word of every song in Encanto. That she missed out on a year of in-person gatherings with our extended family…that she didn’t get to perform her annual dance recital on “the big stage”. But I am BEYOND proud and humbled by her ability to rise to the occasion and display a level of resilience, adaptability and independence that is wise beyond her years and will serve her more than well for whatever lies in her extremely bright future.
What lessons did your kids teach you during COVID? For those without kids, what is your biggest takeaway from the past 2 years and how will you carry it into post-pandemic life? Share your comments below!
Looking forward to reconnecting with you all!