They say they’re only little once. Babies don’t keep. This stage is fleeting. My dad likes to quote Trace Adkins whenever I seem a tad overwhelmed by telling me, “You’re gonna miss this.” When they’re this little, we sometimes dwell on the fact that it goes by painfully fast.
Now here we are, with all the time in the world.
My daughter is seven and my son is three. My daughter is what I like to call my stage-five clinger. If you asked her what she wanted most in the world (besides a Barbie Dreamplane), she would probably say more time with her mama. I am a stay-at-home-mom so she already gets plenty of attention and affection from me, but she always seems to crave more. My son is just now getting to the stage where he will stop playing just to come hug me and say, “I love you so much, Mama.” Cue the puddle of mush.
As challenging as this isolation period has been on the world, we can still try to find the silver lining: that we’ve been given the gift of time standing still for a while.
There’s no hurrying off to soccer games and ballet. Instead, there are sunset scavenger hunts and learning to ride their bikes. We’ve traded the anxiety and stress of social obligations for afternoon couch cuddles and nightly sit-down dinners. Knowing how many people are suffering and away from their loved ones, I feel guilty saying that I am enjoying this slower pace with my family.
If we have to go through a pandemic, I’m grateful it’s during this stage.
This is the stage where bubbles and sidewalk chalk provide hours of entertainment. It’s the stage where mommy and daddy agreeing to ice cream sundaes after dinner is like winning the lottery. They still believe in the magic of the Easter bunny and tooth fairy. It’s the stage where sleeping in between your parents can cure any bad dream. It’s the stage where we watch the same movie for weeks on end without batting an eye … because that’s what toddlers do. It’s the stage where drawing rainbows and playing make-believe with Barbie besties are their cure for boredom … because that’s what little girls do. It’s the days of one more goodnight song and rocking for five more minutes. Why not? We have nowhere to be tomorrow … no pressure, no deadlines, no need to rush.
As tough as it has been on my daughter not getting to see her friends, teacher or family, she’s feeling the ease of all of this, too. She’s been less on edge and anxious; more giddy and playful. She’s been bonding with her little brother, building hideouts and sharing secrets and snuggles.
They don’t question very much and take each day as it comes. My son is old enough to reason with but does not understand the gravity of what is happening around him. If this had happened when he was one or two, I would probably be a lot more exhausted. However, at three he understands when I explain to him on his level why we cannot go anywhere, and he moves on and happily plays with his sister. Did I mention he still gives me two-hour naps?
I don’t mean to diminish the adolescent or teenage stage. I’m sure they’re getting creative with family bonding, whether it’s playing board games or sharing cooking duties. There’s just something special about still being needed.
One day in the not-so-distant future, I’m going to wish I could feel the weight of my daughter curled in my lap again. I’m going to want to give anything just to inhale my son’s soft curls while I rock him those five more minutes. So I’m making the best of a horribly bizarre situation and treasuring this gift of time we’ve been given. My cabinets and closets may not be completely decluttered when all of this is over but my babies will have been showered with love.