As the extensions of the national lock-down continue, and others opt to open up, my mind can't help but wander. Normally at this time of the morning, two kids would be off learning at school. The youngest would be running circles around me, making sure that when sleepy time arrived, it would be effective. And then that sweet, sweet respite of household calmness. Nap time. If I did my part to tire out the youngest, I'd have at least two hours of quiet. It wasn't until I had kids that I appreciated the truly still moments at home. Has it really been over a month already?
See, when you have kids, they invade your life (gladly of course). I mean every facet. Ever looked at a diamond? How it sparkles as you move it under the light? This is because of the skilled cutting of the gem creating facets (sides) of the gem capturing light and reflecting it back out. From far away the diamond sparkles, and upon close inspection you'd see tons of small flat sides that make up the entire gem. I feel like our habits are like our facets, except we're the gem-cutter. And any gemstone that has been finished by unrefined hands will never sparkle to its true potential greatness. Each side is important to the whole, and it is only if you look closely can you begin to define the depth that makes it shine. Old habits of life that once defined normalcy in a previous life try to force themselves in new situations. Situations that may have worked previously, but really don't apply anymore, begin ruling the decision-making process. It worked before, why not now?
The real world, the one that kicks you in the teeth the moment you think you have it all figured out, that world would find immeasurable joy countering that thinking at every step. After our oldest was born, I think we continued living as if we just added-on a child to the life. We tried to stop the reshaping of our lives, tried to just keep doing things like we used to. And in many cases we were able to convince ourselves we had accomplished just this. When our second child was born, she had excessive allergies including things like soy, dairy and nuts. Life had to change right? Hah! We were so locked in our thinking, instead of working from a base of what she could have and build from that, we tried to make everything we considered normal to fit into a diet and lifestyle that just wouldn't work. Ever heard of a milk-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free macaroni and cheese? Are you kidding me? Were we crazy? Yet I guess these things actually exist. How good did it taste? I never could bring myself to trying the food. Who were we kidding?
And then with the force and surprise of being slapped in the face with a huge wet fish, we realized that we never really changed. That we were trying our hardest not to change, and continue living a life that no longer served a purpose anymore. "But what about the other kids? Won't they miss these things?" Other questions like this kept coming up. But we began asking other questions like: "Why do they have to eat these specific foods?" A lot of times it really came down to convenience, and the lack of ability to actually prepare the foods. A lot of the realization came down to my own inflexibility to pivot in a time of life when old habits were starting to actually hurt the family. The idea that I was doing a bad job. But I needed that realization to improve the situation, to help my poor daughter enjoy life her way, instead of being forced to enjoy it my way.
With the birth of our third girl, the same battery of allergy tests were given to her. Already resigned to change how we lived, especially if we had two kids with severe allergies, we began chipping away at the habits of our old lifestyle and started the painful process of complete radical change. Complete radical change? I laugh as I write that. What did that really consist of? Eating healthier, going out less. Spending time focusing on family first, and then worrying about what the world was telling us we "needed" to do. Remember: I always had a vision of how I wanted my life to look.
Now I'm sitting here, dreading setting up the zoom meeting for my oldest. Worried that I'll forget some arbitrary assignment. Freaking out that my kids may get a "bad grade" at online school. I'm worried that she won't get a chance to say something during the meeting, or that the teacher will never acknowledge them. But then I remember: Nothing about what's going on right now is normal. All my cravings and desires are born out of a world so distant and removed, so far away. Yet here I am attempting to apply these old habits to new situations. Attempting to use flawed thinking to solve real problems.
How long will we be enjoying the closeness of the family? Hopefully forever. Like this though? I'm working to kill the monotony. Let's work on this together. Let's build stronger families. Let's break old habits. Let's turn this wild life that we've been dealt into a winner.