My Kid and Me During This Great Pause
“I’m learning to be present with my kid even when life outside (and inside) can feel frantic and uncertain.”
Sitting on our couch, my 6-year-old son cuddles against my shoulder. This makes it awkward to turn the pages of my book, but that’s alright. I let my eyes linger too long on each page as I take in the sound of my son’s breathing as he reads. Time has slowed. I’m doing my best to slow down with it and be present. Not long ago I found myself rushing through parenting moments only to want them all back.
When my son was in his not-sleeping phase, I couldn’t wait for his next phase — which I dreamt would be a sleeping phase. I trudged around our house half-awake leaving car keys in the freezer and frozen snacks in my handbag. I wondered when his next phase would start because it had to be easier than this one. Then one night it happened. I woke up after sleeping four full hours to find we’d entered a brand new phase: the teething phase.
When my son was in his teething phase, I couldn’t wait for his next phase — which I dreamt would be a sleeping phase. The pain of teething kept us awake at night (again), and I loped around the house covered in drool while my little guy teethed on my eyelashes. I wondered when the next phase would start because it had to be easier than this one. Then one day it happened. I woke up to my son’s toothy grin only to find we’d entered a brand new phase (if I could catch him): the toddler phase. There were days I wished time would move faster. I mentally rushed through some of my son’s harder phases because I was sure that the next one would bring a more manageable tomorrow — filled with more naps. As time kept on slipping into the future, it dawned on me that every milestone we conquered was a messy mix of beautiful, heart-melting moments sprinkled with all the tough stuff. No phase had the easy without the hard. As a first time parent, I was a little late to the cheese pizza party with this big light bulb moment. How many quiet moments of connection slipped by while I was dreaming of a different stage? I wanted to build a time machine out of his LEGOs and go back to appreciate all I missed. Could I get a do-over?
During the first few weeks of our COVID-19 quarantine my family’s schedule was all over the place. I was grateful to be able to shelter in place with those I loved, and yet I awoke from nightmares in which I’d cleaned my son’s homeschool homework and turned in our dirty dishes. I wondered when the next phase would start because it had to be easier than this one. That’s when I noticed that ol’ familiar pull, but being older and wiser, I took a pause.
I’m using the extra time social distancing has given us and am making the most of it — no time machine needed. I’m learning
to be present with my kid even when life outside (and inside) can feel frantic and uncertain. These days, we read, sit on the porch, or take the time to cook together. I’m getting my do-over but certainly not in a way I expected. This is the bright spot I hold onto during the dark times of this phase. All these fast phases have taught me that time is fleeting. One day I’ll wake up and my son will be in his “going off to college phase,” and I don’t want to rush a single moment until then.