I am sitting on our second story deck with a mug of vanilla rooibos tea, local honey and warmed homemade almond milk that I finished squeezing from its nut milk bag just minutes ago.
On the horizon, the sun is slowly slipping into its ocean bed for the evening. Waves rhythmically crash on the beach not a football field away. My lungs feel scratchy from breathing smoke from the local dump that set fire today, a particularly unfortunate circumstance in light of COVID.
I should be sleeping. The kids went down on the earlier side tonight, but I feel the need to record this place in time.
“It’s all so weird…,” I find myself saying frequently.
Waiting for a to-go order, I stood outside our local health food store for 10 minutes today. The sign outside listed the rules for shopping: wear your mask, shop quickly, stay 6 feet away, only 4 people in the store at a time…
A bare-faced woman in her seventies wearing red overalls and a white turtleneck is in the back of the store emptying the fridge of its organic apples. The store manager walks over to her and instructs her that she needs a mask. She pulls her white turtle neck up over her mouth and nose and completes her shopping this way. 5 bags of organic apples and 1 box of soy milk from the shelf.
A few people end up lingering outside of the store 6 feet away from me before I tell them that I am waiting for take out. They make their head counts and enter appropriately.
This is all so weird…
Except for what isn’t.
Many people have asked me how hard it was to be solo with my children while Dave was gone at the hospital for a month. I tell them this:
Some things were challenging, yes; like 5am dueling meltdowns. Breathing deeply through said meltdowns, turning towards the kids and getting on their level when I was able rather than acting out my anger at these seemingly irrational, intense outbursts was hard, yes. And…
I am incredibly grateful to have been forced to do something I have always wondered about but never would have chosen myself. I never thought I would be a full time homemaker. There is something about life this way – the steadiness of simple daily rhythms and rituals and being with my children all day – that is deeply enriching and healthy.
The kids relaxed into having me around all the time. While we had our moments, we also tuned into each other more subtly. Lily became more independent, spending more time in her imaginary worlds and Theo’s hugs started to linger longer.
With the blessing of our CSA boxes delivered weekly with local, fresh produce, I started cooking more, really nourishing myself and family. I fell back into love with cooking’s creative process. We prepared and planted a garden.
For most of my life, I have been such a busy bee. Raised in a can-do culture, my nature is to rush from person to person, thing to thing. I thought I had relaxed and created space in my life. Over these past three and a half years, I chose motherhood and let my big career dreams go for now.
But this has been a different kind of choosing. This is all in. Caring for the home I live in and the children I so dearly love – no help, no escape.
Interestingly, I need less self-care to deal with challenges of parenting now because the kids and I care for each other. I am present to receive them. I remember to pause and let their, “I love you” or hug or wide-eyed smile in. I let it nourish me, instead of seeing parenting as something I do to them.
I am starting to understand the art of attention. Love is full presence – nowhere else to go, nothing more important to do than be.
The sun is long gone now. The ocean’s tone has deepened to indigo. A long orange brush stroke runs across the horizon line as night falls. I’ll go too now. Thank you for being here. Be well.