This pandemic is a tragedy.
This pandemic is hard.
However for me, thanks to my stable situation, which it's a privilege on its own, it's also been a time of opportunity. I've been living a smaller, quieter life. I have time to slow down and look around and actually observe.
I find I am increasingly noticing the small details of the world through the eyes of my toddler. Like most small children, my son points out objects and events around him all the time. Spending our lockdown mostly within the confines of my mom's house and garden, our attention is focused on a small physical area. He is showing me that there is not much square footage but there is so much to see.
Having to repeatedly explain the function of everyday objects allows me to really appreciate the tools we use and how they help us. It allows me to feel gratitude for the resources we have. Isn't it amazing how our lives are enriched by access to seemingly ordinary things like sunscreen, tweezers and blenders?
We are stretching each activity, each moment to fill our days. This means we spend longer seeing, touching, thinking about and talking about each item. I find I am commenting more frequently on the texture of objects. I'm really feeling the playdough, the grass, the towel.
In the garden, we are taking a drink then watering the plants. We poke around in the dirt while the birds and bugs do the same. We find green shoots struggling out in the unlikeliest of places. It's astounding how immersed you can feel in nature even in a city.
Engaging with wildlife and examining the tiniest creatures takes up a lot of our time. We watch ants scurrying and hurrying and I'm empathizing with how hard they are working to provide for their colony. Before, I never truly examined the mechanics of their legs and the speed at which they change direction.
The birdsong seems louder now. Have you noticed this? I'm not sure if it's down to less traffic noise or animals getting bolder as we humans curtail our activity. Either way, the air in the garden is filled with a multitude of melodies. My son is learning the names of different birds and also how to stay quiet and still in an effort to see them.
The natural world is filled with wonders and we can use this time to marvel at them. The buds on the trees are unfurling with fresh green leaves. Butterflies flit from plant to plant and dance around each other. Flower petals open to reveal dusty pollen in all the colors of the rainbow.
It is my privilege, as a mom, to open up the world to my child. To show them the riches on offer. This doesn't have to mean hiking to the top of the tallest mountain or trekking across continents. Right now, this means revealing the beauty of every day and the joy in humble normality.
I know not every mama will have the luxury of time and space and my heart goes out to you. For many of us, life has got louder and busier, not smaller and quieter. Trying to continue to work while schools are shut and childcare is unavailable is crazy.
You're doing an amazing job, whatever your situation. I hope you can still find a few moments to pause, focus on something small and take stock.
Even if your days seem busy, without travel, classes and social engagements there might be a gap for you to fill. I recommend laying down and watching the clouds drift overhead. You might be surprised at how much you really see.