I confess: I've been fairly wrapped up in my own feelings lately.
I've been stressing about working without childcare at home while all five of us are here quarantined together. I've been worrying about trying to fit in school work for my kindergartener and preschooler while also keeping up with my job, the laundry, the snacks and meals and sibling squabbles.
I've been surfing the wave of our new normal feeling like, "This is fine, this is okay, we're doing it…" cruising along quickly into the crash of, "Why is this happening, what is going on, when does this end?"
And I've realized—I don't think I'm a very good emotional surfer.
I've been swimming around in grief of all kinds. We lost my grandfather two weeks ago and we couldn't travel to New York to be there with him. We couldn't be with my parents or siblings. I think of this in between my editing work, wiping tears as I type. I remember my heartache during story time with my kids, coming back to reality with, "Why are you crying, Mom? Gerald the giraffe is funny!"
Because my grandfather's name was Gerald and life is not funny right now.
I've been crying from sadness then crying from the beauty of watching John Krasinski's Some Good News show. I've been coping by staying up even later than my typical already-late bedtime, watching Gossip Girl on Netflix, and by eating Airheads, tortilla chips and queso dip and lots of bread. Like, a lot.
I've been struggling. But you know what—I don't think my kids are struggling as much as me. Which is encouraging. When I look around (online, because… #socialdistancing), I see kids making face masks for medical personnel, I see them drawing rainbows and taping them to their windows, making signs to thank the health heroes, standing outside clapping during shift change before bedtime. They're going on bear hunts, having dance parties and virtual birthday celebrations.
They're adapting to this world turned upside down in a way that's really inspiring.
So to our kiddos, our mini-heroes—thank you.
Thank you for being amazing and resilient and funny and wise. You are the exact teachers all of us grownups need—always—but especially right now.
Thank you for seeing our new way of learning exciting. You have class Zoom calls instead of in-person class inside your adorable little classroom. You watch videos from your teacher reading instead of sitting on the blue rug, together with your friends, smelling the pages of the library book turning in front of you. You write the date on our small chalkboard in the kitchen instead of finally getting to place the date on the velcro calendar on the board at school as the special helper for the day.
I know you miss your school and classmates, and I know this feels strange—but you're working so hard and I am so proud of you.
Thank you for accepting these temporary subs for in-person family hangouts—from activities at the kitchen table with Grandma while she cheers you on through a 5-inch screen and video storytimes with your grandparents to playing FaceTime peek-a-boo with your cousin in California and Houseparty Pictionary with your cousin in the next town over.
I know this feels wrong, in a way—you're so used to seeing all the people you love on a regular basis. Feeling their hugs, kissing their cheeks, hearing their laughter without a poor connection. But, still—you're okay. You're happy you can still see everyone, even if it's "only" virtually. It won't always be like this.
Thank you for understanding—even through sad tears—why we couldn't go into your aunt's house to play when we drove by to say hi. You were saying, "Don't leave, Mama!" and I felt your heart break, because my heart broke, too. It breaks when you ask if we can go to the playground and I have to say no. It breaks when you ask for a playdate and I have to say no.
I know you want to go out into the world and have fun. And go on adventures. I know this feels confusing. And while I can't tell you exactly when we can go to the park again, I can tell you that one day we will. This isn't forever.
Thank you to the only children without peers to play with right now. The immunocompromised children. The children with parents who live separately. The sick children. The children being born into a world where they need to have tiny face shields placed over their faces. The children whose parents are temporarily living elsewhere, to protect the health of their families. The children who have lost someone they love.
You all are absolute champions.
Thank you for your imagination. For drawing pictures of unicorns and Princess Jasmine and puppies. For taking recycled materials and creating dinosaurs and treasure boxes. For playing soccer in the rain and jumping like frogs on the trampoline. For playing Dora and Diego on the swingset and digging around in the garden. For building a robot and planting seeds. For writing books and reading me stories. For singing loudly and laughing uncontrollably during the millionth viewing of Frozen 2.
I know not leaving our home can feel like you're trapped. We aren't meant to live in isolation.
Thank you for showing me the good side of all this. That when we're together, we're okay.
Thank you for teaching me how to slow down.
For the beauty that is wearing your pajamas all day.
For feeling through every emotion without shame or judgement.
For seeing the beauty in the day ahead.
For forging ahead.
For not giving up.
For being silly.
For laughing loudly.
For being the best dance party hype-human I could ever ask for.
For snuggling with me on the couch when I want to crawl back into bed.
For wiping my tears.
For making the heaviness lighter.
For being there for me in a way you don't even really understand.
For reminding me every single day that you are my reason, you are my everything.
I know you want your friend to come in the house after they so kindly took the time to drive by with signs taped to their car to say hi to you. I see you pretending to be a baby more than you ever have before. I hear your pacifier requests again. I feel you climb into my bed in the middle of the night.
We all have our own way of coping with trauma and uncertainty. Yours might be the comfort and safety of Mom and Dad sleeping next to you. Mine might be Airheads on the couch with Blair and Serena—potato, potahto.
What's important right now is we're here for each other. We're in this together.
So, thanks for the most profound lesson of all.
That I will get through this because of you.
Thank you. You are my hero.