I don’t know about you, but as this new normal becomes more and more real by the day, my emotions are all over the place. I fluctuate between being my best, most fully alive self and completely losing my mind, not wanting this new normal to be the new normal, like, at all.
I miss the life that existed a mere five weeks ago, even if I doubt whether this five-weeks ago life will ever return.
And perhaps like you, when I’m in a good space, I embrace and lean into and relish in that which is right in front of me.
I lay on my back outside in the sun, tiny boy bodies piled on top of me, all of us giggling because this spontaneous dog pile is just the best thing ever. I read Harry Potter out loud until my throat feels raw, delighting in the power of story with my seven-year old son. I hop on my red seat bike and ride up and down the hill with my boys, over and over again, “because Mama, did you feel the wind on your face? Did you, did you?”
I did, I did.
I think about the words of my friend, fellow author Krista Gilbert, who writes in Reclaiming Home, “Time can exist in the absence of love, but love cannot exist in the absence of time. The minutes we offer another are a gift of immeasurable value, because we are offering something we will never get back” (18).
The beauty of this current time is that we only have is each other. Some of us live by ourselves and find that this season invites us to choose connection with friends and family over Zoom, Marco Polo or FaceTime. Some of us, like myself, share a space with family members or roommates; we too are invited to take a deep-dive into relationship with the people right in front of us, this extra time for connection of immeasurable value, at least if we let it.
After all, when we offer one another our time, we offer a gift we will never get back.
Even if we feel like we’re at the end of our rope and don’t know how we can give ourselves away anymore.
Even if we yearn for human touch, for the embrace of another human being, because the loneliness overwhelms us.
Even if we don’t know where our next paycheck is coming from; even when we don’t know if we can handle losing another friend or family member to the virus (that is now the leading cause of death in the U.S.); even if we wonder if this time will prove detrimental for our children in the long run.
The even-if’s are long, but the invitation to connect is long too.
But first, permission granted to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. If, in order to give others time, you first need to have a day of sitting in your jam jams and letting yourself feel mad and sad, then permission granted. If you need to put on (yet another) movie for the little ones in your house, in order to give yourself a couple minutes to breathe, then permission granted. And if you simply need to let go of the expectations for output and production (or what I like to call “The Apparent Need to Write the Next Best American Novel”), then permission granted.
When you’re able to give others your time, consider implementing some of Krista’s ideas, particularly when it comes to bedtime ideas for younger kids: Read a chapter book out loud. Form a back-scratch train. Sing a song or create make-believe stories together. Brush one another’s hair. Give a foot rub. Stargaze or wish upon a star. Pray (52).
Because, as always, when we find ourselves living in a both-and world (which feels more true now than ever before), we take each day, each hour, each moment as they come.
We listen to our bodies. We lean into God. And eventually, we remember and we lean into this gift of time.
We put one foot in front of one another and we keep going.
After all, sometimes it’s the only thing we can do.
So, what say you? How has this season of staying home and sheltering in place, particularly when it comes to the gift of time, been a gift to you?
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