Here we are, heading into month seven of our new normal (thanks to Covid-19 for sponsoring this blogpost). And whilst there is a LOT to complain about, I never want to forget how much there is to be thankful for over the last few months.
As much as I still love and miss NYC I will be forever grateful that we didn’t have to live out lockdown in our 10th floor, one bedroom apartment with J working from home. I have friends that have done exactly that, and I truly don’t know how they managed. I mean a lot of them didn’t – we have so many city friends who have gradually left the cities that they loved through this because it is just too much. I can totally understand that, and I think that would have been us had we not had this space. Being out West in a house with a yard and an office for J is something that we could never have planned for. But wow, I am so thankful that we were here when this hit. Not to mention having a car for the first time in our married life and living somewhere with no shortage of beaches and open space. This home has felt like a life raft in a storm.
Yes, having a 1, 3 and 5 year old in lockdown has had its challenges. But I think the fact that there are three of them so close in age has been the best thing. They were used to seeing friends a lot, being out and about and busy. They haven’t played with any friends since March. We have had to navigate two missed birthday parties and a much anticipated trip to the UK to see family getting cancelled, and they have just been incredible. I don’t know if it has been their ages, the fact that there are three of them, or that we were homeschooling long before lockdown, but they just have taken it all in their stride.
Whilst not seeing friends has been sad, they have never been closer as a three. Sure, they have their moments (they are siblings) but on the whole they play together from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. Trains, blocks, crafts, make-believe, dress up, cars… they just play and we honestly never hear them complain that they are bored. I feel that this incredibly simple life that we have been thrown into has actually been good for them in a lot of ways. There has just been so much more time and space for play and imagination and simplicity.
What has really blown me away is how easily they have understood the reasons why life has changed so much. We hesitated about going into much detail with them at the start of lockdown but as always little ones are often able to understand far more than we expect. It eventually felt unavoidable so we explained that there was a nasty virus in the world but that we didn’t need to be afraid because the doctors believed that we would likely be okay because we are all so healthy and strong. But we then explained that some people would get really really sick, and that we felt that it was important to do whatever we could to reduce the risks to people more vulnerable than us. Considering how naturally selfish kids usually are (brutal but true!), it amazed me how with such little explaining they wanted to do what they could to keep other people safe.
As a Bible-believing Christian family, we are often teaching them about our duty to love others, but it has been such a special opportunity to teach them through this pandemic how to practically love others more than themselves. That means not going to the zoo, not playing with friends, not having a birthday party or traveling to the UK. They understood. When they put their little masks on I will hear them remind each other that they are wearing their annoying masks to keep other people safe. I could cry when I hear them say that. I am SO proud of them. If I take one big thing away from all of this, it will be how we got to demonstrate as a family in a really practical way loving others more than ourselves. I know that that lesson has helped shape their hearts and I will be forever thankful for that.
J and I have woken up in the middle of the night to watch a Zoom family funeral and then again for my sister’s Zoom wedding. This pandemic has stolen so much that we can never get back. We have seen friends be sick, hospitalised and living with the aftermath of having Covid. We have felt the pressure and strain on relationships as everyone navigates how to respond to restrictions and this ‘new normal’ and what that looks like for their household. It has truly been awful.
We have watched people check out of church, and I get it. Online church is HARD. But I have so much faith that God is in all of this, that He is doing a new thing, reshaping us all, stripping away what wasn’t fruitful and rebuilding His Church. As Christians we often say how ‘Church’ isn’t the building, it is the people – I think this has really tested that. We will persevere with online church and Zoom community for as long as is needed because right now THIS is the church and there will be a next chapter.
I have finally stopped wishing for things to go back to ‘normal’ because these last few months have revealed that ‘normal’ isn’t what we really want. I have seen and learnt too much from our time in lockdown to be satisfied with ‘normal’. We took way too much for granted and didn’t appreciate simple things enough. When we finally get to be with family in person I want to lap up every moment because that time is SO precious. I never want to take for granted that we are an 11 hour flight away to the UK. That always felt way too far (especially with three little ones) but I would give anything right now to simply book and jump on that flight and not have to worry about being a risk to our grandparents. I don’t want to feel that we have to fill our calendars with busyness because time at home together is great and good for us. I don’t want to see Sunday church as something we attend each week again but as an incredible privilege that we can safely gather and worship together. I can’t wait to have our kitchen table full of people with stools and benches pulled up for extra seats again, and the kids’ playroom full of their friends and all the chaos and mess. To go out and see people’s facial expressions and not have to wear a horrid mask. I know that there will be a day that I wash those masks for the last time and that wearing a mask everywhere wont be our normal.
But when that time comes I don’t want to forget the closeness that we have had as a family. Our marriage has been put under pressure and made so much stronger through it, the kids are closer than ever and more content. Our worship times involve the kids dancing around the room and suggesting songs and I love all of that. We have a Friday night sabbath and the kids countdown to it each week and it has become this highlight of the week and that has been so good for everyone. We know the people who live on our street (and their dogs!) better than ever and that is all too good to leave behind.
I am very aware that everyone has had a unique experience of this time and I am so aware that we have our health, each other, our kids, a home and an income and so many other things that have made this time easier for us than for people that don’t have some of those things. My heart breaks for those who have lost family, friends, jobs, homes and hope to this virus.
Sending lots of love from our family to yours.