It was 6:30 pm on a Monday, and instead of rushing dinner with floating plates and twists, the kids hunkered down for their daily movie. The sun was going down, but it wasn’t entirely up. The day was so very slow and zoomed by, at once. I realized at the end of it that there was one big difference than the days before—I stopped counting. I stopped acting as if this was temporary, or that I’d feel relief from one thing or another. From the moment I woke up I gave into the odd dance that lives within my walls, and it was the easiest, fastest, and slowest of days. And I say that knowing fully that no two days are the same. I say that knowing that my feelings may shift in entirety by Wednesday. I say that knowing that I may feel the foot of something or another at my neck around noon tomorrow. But it needs to be said.
A few weeks ago, when the kids became frustrated about all of this and I was frustrated right back, I simply explained to them that kids all over the world were doing the same exact thing. It wasn’t just a Brooklyn thing, a New York thing, or even a United States, thing. It’s a world thing and everyone is a participant in a grand act of care. A care that buys doctors and scientists time. Time, something that maybe, along with very few others, lays itself as a lesson of this particular season.
In our barter for time, we’ll be frustrated and uncomfortable and the days will feel slow. I explained that we’ll miss our friends and family, and they’ll miss us right back. And more importantly, I explained how rare this was and that normal does return in one shape or another. And as I said that to them, I honestly said it to myself.
The kids are alright, but maybe if only parents are?
I’ve thought about the implications of such a thought as an adult. In saying that, I fully acknowledge that there are millions of adults not alright, and so, the circumstances are far worse for their children. There’s no mystery of struggle right now. It is played out in numbers and statistics, hovering on our window screens and daily alerts. But I guess, what I’m writing to say is that I am allowing myself to sit in the space I have the privilege of being in (as a healthy black woman). In the allowance of time and self reflection, and my own knotted rope with my children, maybe they are as okay as I am? Not the reverse.
And if such a thought is to be true, what may I need to survive the current strain of the world?
It’s Tuesday now, and a storm has rolled into Brooklyn. Other than the fat drops and high winds that took over our roof and windows three nights ago, we haven’t received a good dose. Something, that in my times of quiet has been a request of my heart. An ask that was a desperate attempt to stave off my desire to feel the New York city swag of spring. If unanswered, I’d be met with a new kind of New York. It is not the New York I grew up in, and one that I think we may slowly cautiously inch back to. Maybe the most painful part is the visceral experience of what exists behind brownstone doors and shuttered stores.
The rain has started to slow its beat, and I can hear the kids yelling from the next room with their dad. Tumbling over boxes to paint, lunches to eat. My breaks these days are brief, and I’d argue if they’re breaks at all. But I shut the door, turn on the sound machine and watch the rain do a little dance outside the window. The security of such a thing, doubting the breaks and all, is not lost on me.
Today is much like yesterday, fast and slow at once. And like yesterday, I’ve weighed the crisis on hand, “Are the kids alright?” and when the tapping breaks for thoughts, I hear a pitch in O’s voice that only says yes. I hear River’s feet slide along the hallway to her room and back, and that sound says yes. But most of all, as I squeeze in this practice of writing, exercising and therapy, in the corners that I can and must, I see that yes. Because I am, we are, that yes.
All of this to say, on the sunny days and on the rainy days, on the fast and slow ones too, maybe if you can, make sure you’re alright.
Are you alright?
Then the kids likely are too.
P.S What Should I Do With My Kid?
(Photography Bill Perlmutter, Harlem 1958. Some of you may have noticed the WORKSHOP tab on the right hand side. This weekend, I started two three-week workshops, which I am so excited about. I’ll be taking wonderful people on a styling through the seasons journey and a storytelling through the seasons journey. Today is the last day you can join before I close them out. But, the thing that may be the most important is the addition of a $5 tier, so that readers and followers (if they have the means) can become community members investing care as Patrons.
What does that mean? There is no doubt that this is a difficult season for everyone, and I am included in that. And though most of the work on this blog and my social media handles has been funded by sponsorships through the years, that has taken a hit like millions of others. To ensure that this site (people I hire as contributors and myself) can continue to write and most of all show up daily, I’ve set up a tier for those of you who have the means to be community members. If not, please keep sharing the blog. Keep commenting. Keep supporting. Thank you so much for being a big part of this growing community.)
It’s been so surprising how different each moment can feel. It’s been such a ride so far emotionally, one minute I’m able to ignore the worry and the next I feel consumed. My main feeling being the concern for the world, knowing I sit relatively comfortable (for the moment) in my privilege while others are truly suffering. Attempting to comfort those in my community when I can and striving to find more I can do to help. It’s a relief to think that as long as we’re caring for ourselves (in order to better care for them), the kids should be alright. Thanks for the perspective!
Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I totally hear you. It’s all difficult and terror for the world is it’s own mixed bag for sure.
And after rereading I felt such comfort in your words “I am allowing myself to sit in the space I have the privilege of being in.” I realize we’re in different spaces, but it’s refreshing to think I can also allow myself that mental rest sometimes.
I really like the phrase that we are all participating in a grand act of care. I also resigned a little this week and just gave in. Yes, it is hard and mentally tough to work FT in an inflexible job from home, homeschool our eldest, and care for our youngest, and I’ve lost my temper way too much. But, I dropped both my girls off at daycare at week 12 of each of their little lives. Since I have only spent a week a year with then FT for vacations and have been distracted or around others during these times. These past 6 weeks have been unprecedented, hard, but beautiful. I’ve realized I have learned so much about their little minds and souls.
I love that. I was thinking the other day that it also much be a wild learning experience for parents who have consistenly worked FT away from their kiddos. Albeit, they do get to experience them. Just not in that during-the-week-way. Which is it’s own way, good and bad etc.
I read an article on NYTimes about single mothers and the varying experiences and I imagine there’s an interesting pov for FT working parents (single or not).
Your story was awesome to read it made me feel like we are not the only ones going through this. During this time I took advantage of spending time with my 9month old and just admiring everything he does at each moment . During these crazy times it has made me feel like wow this is motherhood! Yes it’s exhausting!!! But life moves so fast that you don’t even realize it !! It’s terrifying knowing how many people lost their lives during this time. I can only imagine what people are going through. Can this be a sign from above that everyone needs to slow things down in life and recognize that spending more time with family is the most important thing in life?!