Getting Back to Nature
While the world seems to be unraveling right in front of our eyes, there’s also a lot of beauty in social distancing too. In neighbourhoods where people once stayed inside, barely socializing with one another, now they are out and about, breathing fresh air, walking, running and riding their bicycles. I noticed a few ducks with bright red feathers flapping their wings, ready to soar, two dragonflies danced in the air. My senses suddenly felt soothed and awake at the same time. It’s as though while we all hit the pause button, Mother Nature is claiming her domain. Birds sing, grass rustles in the breeze. The other day as my son and I (more on that later) played soccer outside, a monarch butterfly circled around us, fluttering over to the flowers, leaving to fly away and then came back once more to circle us once again. My Dad says, the monarch is a good sign. “It signifies that we are not alone,” says Dad. “We are protected since the monarch butterfly has the instinct to go where there is good energy.”
Not sure if this is true or not, but I’ll take it.
Play with your Kids
If you are a parent, then the normal morning drill involves a buzzing alarm, maybe hit the snooze button a few times, hop out of bed in a frazzle, quickly prepare some breakfast, nag your kids a few times to “hurry up, brush your teeth” and then rush out the door to barely make it to school and work on time. Even though this is an uncertain time for many of our jobs, I still feel relived that my day-to-day stress has temporarily been halted.
Suddenly it seems like we’ve been thrown into this unwanted homeschooling scenario and that can seem stressful. But I decided that it’s not the end of the world if my son misses two months of school while we practice social distancing. He’s getting educated in other realities. He helps me clean up, he reads books, and he gets fresh air. Today his teacher called me to check in. I told her what we’ve been doing daily to help him still open his mind to new ideas. She said that even those moments are educational. So moms, let’s not stress too much if our kids are spending more time playing than they are studying. In the grand scheme of things, all that matters is that they are healthy and feel loved.
Social Distancing Family Time
This is the first time since I went back to work when my son was 14-months-old that we are able to have so much quality time. We dump the legos onto the carpet, he builds massive forts out of blankets and boxes, we pull board games out of the drawers, our dining table has transformed into an artist’s workshop-paint and brushes strewn about and in the evenings my son grabs his scooter or bike and we go on a long walk.
Everyday I talk to my parents at length, not worrying about having to rush off the phone to usher my son to bed, clean the dishes or throw in a load of laundry. They seem to be handling all this so well. “We’re so lucky,” says Mom.
Speaking of parents, do you feel that roles have reversed now? My sisters and I find ourselves reminding our parents not to go out, don’t interact with people in public, keep your hands covered with gloves if you insist on going to buy your bread and milk. “Don’t worry I called the Indian grocery store and they said they deliver,” says Mom.
Wise words. She’s absolutely right even though it’s hard to remember that when we are feeling anxious about what’s happening.
It’s not just immediate family that is communicating more than usual. I’ve been getting so many messages and phone calls from friends and relatives all the way from London to Toronto. Even though we are self-isolating, I actually don’t feel that alone. Thank God for FaceTime.
Food for Thought
My cousin Vaishu said she’s never cooked so much in her life. That run to Starbucks in the morning and the take-out food you had at lunch now seems like a thing of the distant past. So many are posting pictures and videos of delicious meals they are whipping up for their families. No styrofoam containers, no unhealthy fast food. A few days ago, my son asked me for Taco Bell. I explained how right now I am not comfortable getting food that is not prepared at home. He smiled and said that he likes mommy’s food. This is a chance to actually gather around the table, sharing a home cooked meal together, which not only warms my belly, but also my heart.
This can mean two separate things. When I was pregnant, I found myself cleaning and organizing a whole lot. Nesting they called it. For some reason that same instinct has descended upon me, as I find myself opening drawers that have not seen the light of day in who-knows-how-long, getting rid of old paperwork, clothes and general clutter.
The other side of social distancing is weeding out the people in your life who serve no positive purpose. This global calamity is showing people’s best and worst sides. A major life event has the ability to shine a spotlight on areas of your life that you may have neglected. This whole experience has made me re-evaluate why I put up with certain behaviour from people I really have no obligation to deal with. Life may actually be short and I don’t want to spend it in a state of stress dealing with people’s headaches.
If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap your Hands
Clapping all of our hands in unison may not make this virus suddenly disappear, ending our social distancing, but there are other non-medical interventions we can practice to keep depression and anxiety at bay. “This is the time to keep your mind steady,” Dad advises. When I was getting divorced, I found meditation helpful, so I thought now is the time to kick-start this practice once more. Every morning I meditate to prepare myself for whatever negativity I may see on the news. We’ve got a whole lot more time on our hands now, so there really aren’t any excuses.
A Whole New World
Dad keeps reminding me that out of every bad thing, comes something good. My hope is that all the things we placed so much importance on (shiny new car, an expensive handbag or shoes, making sure we look perfect all the time-hello grey hairs!), will become less of a priority as we shift our focus onto moments that actually matter far more. Will we stop hating one another, realizing that being human is the common thread that binds us, focusing less on our differences? Will we realise that we don’t have to have a stressful, deadline-driven life? I sure hope we never return to the rat race life. Time will tell, but for now I will hold out some hope that we as collective force of humanity, can better our planet and each other when this dreaded virus finally disappears.