When this is over, we’ll go to your favorite playground, my baby. We’ll stay until the sun sets and I’ll push you on your favorite swing. Or I’ll teach you how to pump your legs like you were learning before this pandemic started and I’ll watch as your face lights up with joy and excitement as you swing yourself through the air. Delighted at how high you’re flying.
When this is over, we’ll go visit Grandma and Grandpa. We’ll hug them so tight and tell them how much we missed them. We will snuggle on Grandma’s soft couch and we will not sit six feet apart and we will tell her all the jokes you’ve learned. She’ll laugh so hard.
When this is over, we’ll put the masks away—the red bandana you use to cover your face when we have to go out and can’t leave you home alone. The one that feels tight because tighter means safer and because we don’t want it to slip down while we’re out surrounded by strangers.
When this is over, we’ll hire a babysitter. Mama and Daddy need a date night and just want to go to the movies. We won’t be gone long, three or four hours at most, and when we come home, we’ll check in on you as you sleep. We’ll kiss your forehead before tucking ourselves in, too.
When this is over, we’ll visit your cousins, my baby. We’ll play silly games with them, hide and seek or tag or something completely different and I think there will be cake, too. No, it won’t be anyone’s birthday but it will feel like a celebration. It will be a giant party, just because.
When this is over, we’ll invite friends over for playdates. As many as you want. The house will be filled with the raucous laughter of a group of 4 and 5-year-olds and it will feel a little bit like chaos. Snacks will fall to the ground and there might be some fighting over a toy, but we’ll talk it out and everyone will be so tired but when the day is done, so very happy, too.
When this is over, Mama and Daddy will see their friends. We’ll invite them over for movie night or go meet them at a restaurant, and we’ll tell stories that might bore you to tears. You’ll hear the adults laughing too loudly and you might end up wanting to cover your ears at the noise. Or you’ll laugh because we’re laughing even if you’re not sure what the joke is.
When this is over, we’ll smile at strangers whose faces won’t be covered up as we walk down the street. We’ll wave hello to neighbors and we’ll continue our nightly walks because you really love those.
When this is over, you can give your teacher a big hug hello. We’ll thank her for everything she has done and show her the drawings you’ve made that let her know you were thinking about her.
When this is over, we’ll still have dance parties. We’ll still have weekends where we have no plans and decide to stay home if we want to. Because this time, if anything, has taught us that it’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to have no plans.
When this is over, we’ll go on a trip. When planes feel safe again, we’ll fly somewhere completely new or take the car out for a road trip. We’ll eat food we’ve never tried and look at architecture we’ve never seen and we’ll walk down roads we’ve never walked. We’ll take pictures and delight at the newness of this place we’ve never been to and soak up how amazing it is to be somewhere else.
When this is over, home will still feel as safe as it always has. That will never change, my baby. Even with the exploring we’ll be doing, we’ll always have a place to come back to that feels familiar and steady. And we are so lucky.
When this is over, time might speed up again. We will have moments where we will be apart, but it will make the moments we come back together all the sweeter. You will learn and grow without me beside you every day, and I both want that and don’t want that at the same time.
When this is over, this time we’re in now will feel like something out of a dream. You might say, “Did that really happen or did I just make it up?” And I’ll tell you yes, it really happened. But, I’ll remind you that it’s over now, and we got through it together.