by Melissa Face
It’s 9:00 on Monday morning, and I feel a rush of cool air on my back where my comforter should be. The mattress dips gently to one side as my six-year-old climbs into my bed. She flings her arm across me and snuggles up to my back. I turn to face her, and she smiles, forming small cracks in the remnants of bubble gum toothpaste that decorate her mouth.
“Mom?” she asks.
It’s the first question of the day. There will be at least nine hundred and eighty-seven more.
“Do you think our house is tired of us being at home?”
I yawn and search for an answer that will satisfy her.
“I don’t,” I say with authority. “Our house is happy that we are here and safe. It misses our laughter when we are at work and at school.”
“But does it think we’re too noisy?” she asks. “Do you think it’s tired?”
“I know I am!” I laugh. “But I guess we should get up anyway and have breakfast. Your brother has been up for an hour.”
Delaney and I head downstairs to decide between waffles or cereal and fruit or yogurt. Our morning routine is pretty similar each day: breakfast, Bible study, school work, and outside time. We are lucky to have what we need: water, food, toilet paper, and each other.
On mornings like this one, I am grateful that I can recognize everything that is good about our current situation.
Most mornings when I work, I don’t see my kids at the start of their day. Instead, I text my husband to check on them from my classroom while my computer and I both wake up.
“How were the kids this morning? Did Delaney eat? Did they get to school on time?”
His response, though slightly different each day, almost always involves a breakfast or wardrobe struggle.
Not only has the pandemic allowed us to begin our days together, but now I also get the best part of my children’s day. Just a few weeks ago, our lives felt so hectic. We were a frazzled family of four: two working parents, two kids at school, and the need to fit dinner, baths, homework, and a few minutes of playtime into the last tiny chunk of the day. Most evenings, the kids were tired and grumpy, and my husband and I were, too. Quarantine has allowed me to work from home and for us to split up many of these tasks throughout the day. Overall, there has been less yelling, fussing, and grumbling.
Flexible dress is another pandemic perk. Despite our efforts to plan ahead and pick out clothing the night before, wardrobe issues are a regular problem in our house. There is almost always a last minute change in shirt choice or leggings that results in Delaney wearing a very interesting outfit to school.
Thankfully, there is no quarantine dress code. We’ve worn pajamas all day a few times, and we’ve dressed up for an outdoor, Easter photo shoot. On the other days, Delaney has taken full advantage of her creative options and worn a Christmas shirt, a Heartstrings turtleneck and jacket from my childhood, a Pusheen t-shirt her brother made, and leggings and a jacket that matched mine. There has been pattern mixing, color clashing, and attire that could be considered seasonally inappropriate. But no one cares. No one sees us. And Delaney is thrilled that her creativity isn’t being stifled by unreasonable parents.
Perhaps the best thing that we are experiencing from our quarantine time is our almost constant closeness. We walk together, eat together, read together, and watch movies together. At any point in the day, it’s common for one or both kids to snuggle up to me on the couch and rest their heads in my lap.
“Tell me what it was like when you were a kid,”Evan says. “What was something that made you scared? What was one of the best Christmas gifts you ever got? Was anybody ever mean to you in school?”
I answer each of his questions, and we talk until we are both sleepy.
I know we are only a few weeks into our mandated quarantine. I know people are sick, tired, and worried. I worry a lot at night, too. I know businesses are suffering and people are struggling, and I hate all of that.
But when life around us begins to return to normal, I hope some things don’t.