I’ve been thinking about the pandemic. There was a lot of heavy stuff (I go into this in an earlier blog), but I also laughed. I cooked. I etched out the framework for my restaurant (it’s in the works). And I was a hands on, 24/7, day in and day out dad!
When the pandemic hit and the shelter in order was issued for our state, my wife and I sheltered in with her parents. She’s an essential worker who was able to work from home. For everyone who did the same, you know it’s nearly impossible to take care of kids and be present during your zoom meetings. My toddler’s daycare shut down and my daughter’s school went to remote learning. The restaurant I’m manager at shut down completely, so it was daddy duty for me.
I’ve always been hands on with my kids. I’m the dad who bathes them, attends their school programs, gets them ready for bed, so it’s not as if it was new... but it felt new! All the things I thought I knew about parenting seemed ineffective and benign. Everything about sheltering in was abnormal. Being in the house every single day, in what felt like close quarters (because it kinda was!), was stifling. The kids were extra loud, they turned into snack monsters and were constantly hungry. They weren’t listening and seemed to decide that the living room floor was the place to toss trash. It made no sense. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong.
But something else happened. Amid the chaos, we slowed down. All of us. My son and I cuddled more. My daughter and I watched cooking competition shows together. My wife and I talked about our marriage and our future. We cooked together and we ate together. As a family. My son started to walk and my daughter broke her arm. My wife was offered her dream job. We missed being with friends and family, but we were together.
We’ll never get that kind of time again. We had rough days and some trying times, but the circumstances forced us to sort it out and get it right. In many ways, I’m thankful because I discovered a newfound appreciation for my wife and a deeper love for my role as a father. When I found those things, when I slowed down to take it all in, I also found myself.