Sit With Me.

Twenty two days of quarantine under our belts — ooooof.

Really fishing around for the slices of joy right about now — and you?

The above picture captures a bit of the isolation that defines this chapter in our lives: empty chairs, knees hugged to our chests, the suggestion of wait — though what would I give to be passing more of this time outside, beneath the umbrage of trees? May I never take a single step in nature for granted.

Mini’s school started an e-learning program earlier this week (bless them! these teachers are angels with their calm and reassurance — did I or did I not dab away a stray tear when I overheard her lead teacher say, in response to a little boy stating, with dubious veracity, that he had “eleven people in his family”: “eleven! that’s a lot! you have so much love around you!”) and mini’s been lukewarm on the uptake. I think it’s hard for her to understand why she’s muted when she can normally speak freely on FaceTime with family, and to process all the little squares of classmates in their own homes, and to sustain attention full stop. It’s been interesting — OK, I’ll say it, disheartening — to watch. I’d assumed she’d click right in — SCREEN TIME, BABY! — but I find her clawing her way into my lap, or idling in front of her crayon bin, or sprinting over to investigate micro’s chosen path of destruction after a few minutes have passed. I presume this as much about grafting these new sessions into our daily routine as anything else, and so I’m already rearranging our day to make sure she can focus as much as possible at least during some of the school activities.

What I could not parse earlier this week was why these changes to schedule felt more burden than boon? It dawned on me after awhile that I think we are all at capacity. It is all too much and yet it feels like I am not doing enough. So I find myself whiplashed between the cacophony and the silence of this strange and scary situation, and I just don’t know that I can manage to add anything else to the mix.

There was one day this week where mini’s e-learning program was just not happening. A tantrum, a slammed laptop, a time out. No. Nope! Not gonna happen. We all took a deep breath and let it go. Laboring under some misapprehension that I could right the ship by engaging her myself, I laid out a new activity that went haywire within minutes. Or, it seemed to stick, but after five or six minutes of working alongside her, I sat back to take a breath and she could not bear the solitude. “No mama, do it with me!!!” — the persistent refrain from her corner until I slid down onto the floor next to her and attempted to muster my threadbare energy into some sham of a pantomime of playing. A few minutes later, she hurled all components of the project around the room in a fantastic display of riotous rebellion and I did not have it in me to say a thing. I sat there in quiet and watched her lollygag around her room, occasionally casting me inquisitive sidelong glances, draping her little body across her bed, then over her chair, then onto the floor, as though slowly shedding excess energy, before settling in front of her bookshelf and quietly reading one, then two, then three books to herself. And then I watched her crawl over to the spray of little toys left in the wake of her angst and begin to play, quietly, with them for the better part of an hour, while Hill napped down the hall.

It might be one of the quietest and calmest hours I have passed at home during this entire pandemic, and you know what?

I have been re-reading and re-reading and re-reading an excerpt from a series of meditations that a reader recommended (thank you, Jessica Clare!) that says: “My life is not about me. It is about a willing participation in a larger mystery. At this time, we do this by not rejecting or running from what is happening but by accepting our current situation and asking God to be with us in it.”

There was something in this experience with mini that felt microcosmic: here was this tiny soul, flailing around in fury and confusion and frustration at all the changes in her life, begging me to play with her (“just do something mom!”), and then finding sudden quiet and peace in her own world as I sat there in silence right next to her. Just sitting with her. My daughter and I, caught in this impossible moment, sitting together.

I realized how true that passage from the meditation rang. I need for my loved ones, for God, to be with me in this. I cannot change what is happening outside save for doing my part to stay home and wash hands and the like. I need God to be with me in this. I need you to be with me in this, too.

Thank you for sitting with me in this, friends.

On the up and up: this Ina Garten video, which I watched while grinning and giggling like an idiot. Thank you, Ina.

Next: go make a pitcher of cosmos for yourself. (Or indulge in your happy hour at home of choice.)

After that: draw up a list of things that make you happy.

Post Scripts.

+This is an excellent children’s book on making space for your own emotions.

+I don’t know how I’ve never mentioned this bath toy before, but mini is obsessed with it. My mother-in-law gave it to mini when we visited her last summer and she plays with it constantly in the bath. Sometimes I even turn off the lights and let her swim in the dark with it. It’s super cool!

+I often field questions about what to give children for Baptisms — this is an absolutely lovely gift. Bookmarking it as a potential gift for the first communions of my godchildren in a few years! (P.S. – writing this and realizing that there will be many children who will not be baptized or receive first communions until all of this is over…!)

+Am I the last mom in the world to know about these things? You screw them onto the top of pouches so your baby won’t squeeze everything out all over themselves. CAN’T WAIT FOR MINE TO ARRIVE. (Read the reviews!)

+20% off everything at Boden. Ordering some of these gingham shorts for micro to pair with polos — like these monogrammed ones!

+So, so pretty.

+Love this whole mama and me collection from Gal Meets Glam — all proceeds go to Baby2Baby. Had to order the lemons for mini and I.

+This is so cheery.

+Time to buy a chic nightgown dress.

+Adore these nightlights.

+Love this sweater in the sky blue or mauve pink as a little late spring pick me up.

+Honestly, I’m much more of a dress gal than a skirt gal, but I’m very into a lot of these midi-length skirts out this season. Obsessed with this. Also think this is fun with a white tee/white tank and Hermes Orans, and it’s 50% off right now!

+Pregnant mamas: this dress!! 50% off! I would have lived in this. And earlier in my pregnancy (and not pregnant), I liked dresses like this.

+If you need a new book, some ideas here

8 Comments

  1. Hi! I had high hopes also for my almost 3 year old daughter and her zoom classes. It’s been mixed reviews depending on her mood (even though I try to follow some kind of routine prior). One thing that worked yesterday was providing her a snack to munch on as she watched. Was like magic. Also, sometimes getting her dad involved is magic too ☺️ In awe of all you do within the confines of an NYC apt! ♥️ Thank you for your posts!

    1. Ooh great practical tip! Will try this tomorrow. Thanks, mama! I also find (unsurprisingly) that if I am sitting with her, engaging with the class alongside her, she’s more dialed in, but that’s just not practical all the time…xx

  2. I am feeling all of this the last few days as I am starting to set up my older girls for their virtual learning classes and the things I’m supposed to teach and all the assignments that will be required. I can’t help but wonder what it is all for. To make things easier for parents? To be sure our kids don’t stop learning? It feels like an overwhelming burden as I have a toddler and infant to tend to while also teaching the girls (I can’t imagine how working parents will be able to do this). We needed to buy a third laptop this week to facilitate all this online learning and although it’s silly and outrageous to buy a 9 year old the same brand new MacBook I use, I just can’t fathom trying to figure out any other type of laptop right now. I’ve hit capacity on learning new things for the week. Maybe for the year! And on that note, it’s cocktail hour here so maybe I’ll try that Ina-sized cosmo tonight and see if that helps 🙂

    1. Wow! I can’t imagine how you are managing everything. I am bowing down. Just how!? I completely understand the need to stick with what you know re: Macbook at this point. My threshold for “new inputs” (as another reader below put it) is at capacity. xx

  3. I so relate to this feeling of being at capacity! This is such an overwhelming situation; it’s hard not to feel that way. At first, when the weekend would roll around, I’d feel pressure to be productive and get projects done around the house — and now all I want to do is relax and mayyybe read a book. That’s about it! I am so exhausted, and I feel guilty saying that since there are so many front-line workers who can’t take a break; can’t be with their families … it’s heartbreaking.

    Anyway, I hope you are hanging in there! xx

    1. Exactly right — I’m just exhausted, overserved (from the news and the barrage of bad stories). Too many things happening!

      My heart breaks for the many many in impossible circumstances right now.

      xx

  4. I definitely relate to the at-capacity feeling right now, even though I’m not trying to entertain a child 24/7.
    Can also explain my inability to watch any new TV show or movie, or read more than a few pages at a time. One of my friends has not one but two autoimmune diseases, and when she’s in the midst of a bad symptom flare she has a rule of “no new inputs.” I think that’s a good way to approach this current situation too.

    1. That’s exactly right — “no new inputs.” Trying to keep everything else quiet and simple to the extent possible…

      xx

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