What Will My Kids Remember About Quarantine?
It’s an unusually warm evening in early April, and my kids are playing outside in the dark. It’s well past their bedtime at this point but we’re ignoring the clocks, thankful for good weather and the sound of laughter echoing through the backyard. Besides, what does bedtime matter when there’s no school, no playdates and nowhere to be but our house?
There won’t be a morning rush to contend with or a battle to get out the door on time. Honestly, I’ll be happy if the kids brush their teeth and change into actual clothes before dinnertime. I don’t care that they’re up late on a weekday; I care that they’re happy, and right now, so am I.
This is a good moment, and I’m soaking it in.
Not every moment has felt this good, and though I’m content, I’m aware of the contrast. To say the past few weeks have been a challenge is an understatement that anyone reading this will immediately understand. Living through a pandemic is stressful. Our lives changed overnight, and it still feels surreal. Some of us have lost income while others are struggling to work from home without completely ignoring their kids. Essential workers have an impossible load to carry. We carry hand sanitizer when grocery shopping and debate the usefulness of homemade masks. Buying necessities is now a welcome escape from the house and a survival sport (if you find food AND toilet paper, you win).
Many of us are anxious, and no one knows exactly how this is going to play out in the weeks and months to come. We’re all in the same boat, in this regard, but some of our boats have really strong sails and a capable crew while others have a slightly wonky rudder and a drunken sailor at the helm. Be patient and kind with others, because you can’t always know which type of boat they’re on.
What strange times, we keep repeating to one another, and it’s true. This is really weird. I’m optimistic that in time, we’ll look back on this and be grateful for all we’ve gotten back – the gatherings and the hugs and the many casual freedoms we’ve always taken for granted – but we’re not there yet. And so I watch my children playing in the dark, our once-strict bedtime a thing of the past, and I wonder: how will they remember this time?
Will they remember how we couldn’t visit friends and family, or how we played a ton of board games and had ice cream after dinner, because why not?
Will they remember feeling anxious or scared, or will they look back on how much time we spent together as a family?
Will they remember missing their teachers and friends, who they were separated from with no warning, or how they got to skip school for weeks on end and build countless blanket forts in the living room?
Will they remember how I anxiously sanitized every package that came in the mail, or how I ordered books and backyard games to keep them busy and entertained at home? Will they remember that we couldn’t spend Easter with the rest of our family, or how the Easter Bunny still left chocolate eggs for them to find?
Will they remember having too much screen time so mommy and daddy could work, or how they watched their favourite movies and ate popcorn on the couch? How the stores kept running out of bread, or how I made homemade waffles for breakfast instead?
Will they remember being confined to our house, or being safe in a warm and loving home?
I hope that when all of this is over, my kids will look back and remember the safety and security of our home and the love they were surrounded by, even when things were scary and hard. This isn’t normal, how we’re living right now. It certainly isn’t how I imagined motherhood or my children’s experience of childhood – but it’s happening and we’re doing the best we can. We can’t control what happens outside of our homes, but we can try to create enough love and magic to counter it.
Over a month into quarantine, my family is finally getting the hang of things, whatever that means, and I think we’re going to be okay. I think we’re all going to be okay.
It may be hard now but one day, this will be something we talk about in the past tense. Until then, play outside in the dark. Eat the ice cream. Make the blanket forts and soak in the moments that feel good.
It won’t be perfect, but it will be okay.