i’m not sure who started it, but as we ended dinner together last night around our dining room table, we took turns screaming at the top of our lungs and screaming together. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” we vocalized, some clenching fists and others closing their eyes as we roared together. again, and again. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” it felt so good. (and i highly recommend it.)
how are you doing? how are you holding up?
yesterday afternoon, i circled the upper west side with madalena in the stroller trying to get her to fall asleep for a nap she desperately needed (the stroller is our method of a soothing pacifier, a white noise machine, a darkened bedroom all in one – it’s our way to get a baby to sleep in less than a minute when they don’t think they are tired but they are- i really can’t explain it beyond my babies being city babies and maybe the bugaboo stroller seat design being a gift from the gods, but i digress…). we went out, madalena fighting to keep her heavy eyelids lifted and me jiggling the stroller ever so slightly as we made our way down 72nd street. we passed shops, restaurants, the museum, book stores and cafes. not much open, almost everything shut down. signs in doorways, some handwritten, some typed: “our dearest customers…. closed until further notice…. we love you…. stay safe….” we walked the crosswalk that once bustled with bodies near the american museum of natural history, and we circled an empty playground where the sound of no children playing felt almost eerie. we passed only a handful of people, staying the recommended six feet (or more) away as we practiced our part of new normal, social/physical distancing.
my heart sank. my eyes welled with tears. because so much is unknown, so much is at stake. and i want to be optimistic but my pessimistic side shows great strength in times like these. parts of me begin to fear, how will we ever recover? our communities, our neighborhoods, our cities, our world. josh and i go back and forth every hour about next steps for our family, as schools have closed around us until atleast april 20th, as work campaigns are cancelled and postponed, as we watch friends and neighbors pack up cars with supplies and leave the city. do we stay? do we go? and where would we even go if we go?
tucked in the stroller in front of me, i watch as madalena slowly gives in to the steady motion of the moving pram. i lean her stroller seat back so she lays flat, sleeping comfortably nuzzled inside the sleeping bag of her stroller muff. i round the corner of our block to head back inside our apartment and catch the eye of a stranger in jogging attire at the nearest crosswalk. he lifts his hand in front of his chest to give a small motion of a wave while running along and calls out a hopeful, “hello! …stay strong!”, as he runs off. to be honest, i felt a bit defensive and bothered at first, like, i am strong! you don’t know me!, but as i caught a tear falling down my cheek mid-thought, i wanted to call back, “thank you so much, you too!”
i took five deep breaths before hoisting my stroller up our apartment building steps, clinging to the small sliver of calm that had just run through my body and entered my head. a feeling that has come and gone intermittently over the course of the last week or so but has been stronger than ever when i feel the love and support from others, near and far, from a loved one and also from a stranger. we are human, and together, we are strong, we are capable. we are resilient.
i’ve always appreciated how mr. rogers would say in times of distress, “look for the helpers. you will always find people who are helping,” and it’s been evident in our current situation, that helpers are helping and it’s what is healing us. thank you to the doctors, the medical staffs, the workers in grocery stores and pharmacies, the delivery crews and so many others, who are putting themselves at risk and are helping. thank you to the online community for rallying together and finding ways to show up for one another, from donating funds where needed to donating talents and skills and just feel-good loves and laughs. i have been a firm believer in the good of social media for a long time (when you follow the right accounts, social media is a really wonderful place), and i’m thankful for ways to feel connected and feel like family during a time like this when we can’t be together in person.
a lot of this is scary and unknown. don’t feel like you have to hold it together and be strong around the clock (might i suggest a simultaneous family scream session each night at dinner?!), but know we are strong together and we are in this together.
sending love and prayers and strength. i have a story highlight on my instagram right now with lots of great activities tagged for kids, articles on how to talk about all of this with your little ones, some beautiful moments around the world shared, and ways to donate and help remotely, too. for example, i linked to the foodbank for new york city, where every $1 donated right now provides 5 meals. and please feel free to share more with everyone in the comments here and on my insta, too.
some photos from the last week or so below….
making some puffy stickers together! a moment of little arguing and team effort which was awesome because usually the little ones are just making a mess of what the big kids are trying to do and i have to keep them separated during these sorts of projects.
inside soccer, here we go! (ps- disclosure here because #HiInternet, but we are in a building full of families and friends, and are always mindful of our neighbors. and fortunately, the walls and floors muffle sound well. we’re all cool with it. i promise.)
right now, we have not been asked in the city to shelter in place, and while we have been staying inside our apartment away from friends, away from playgrounds and outside life as we understand the gravity of this crisis, i am linking a few articles here and here and here and here for you on getting outside if you can, because i agree with medical professionals (including our own pediatrician) and government officials who are recommending that having a few moments of fresh air and exercise each day in open spaces while social distancing is important for mental health and physical health and increasing immunity. we live just one block from central park, so (targeting off hours like before bed) we have been going to the big open spaces where it isn’t crowded or some more hidden spots to climb some trees and play on some big rocks. i do not know the protocol for all areas and i am not telling you to do this, but i do think you can stay informed, research what measures are best for you and your family and make plans accordingly while being flexible. for example, several days ago, we went to the park and it was too crowded, with no open spaces away from other people where we could get our exercise in, so we didn’t enter the park that day just to play it safe. it is SO important to distance ourselves physically right now from others, and we ALL must take that seriously. but you can still be outside for a few minutes if you remain away from others.
even if you can’t get out, doing any sort of exercise at home is so good for you right now. we’ve been doing PE with the kids, lots of jumping jacks and push ups and dancing to music inside with them. HERE is a little dance party video we made together. i recommend hosting a dance party at least once a day right now.
lots of movies and snuggles right now. pulled my computer from my desk to be our make-shift TV for a bit. we also pulled out the sofa bed for a while. it’s a par-tay! i talk more in this post about how i’ve been slow to subscribe to the idea of buckling down and trying to do all the workbooks and worksheets at home just yet. yes, a day with structure is important (having a written daily schedule they can look at has helped us a lot), but we’ve made our focus be on each other right now, trying to find ways to bring calm and feelings of security by reading books together, dancing, snuggling up & watching a lot of movies, facetiming friends from school (and family!) and cooking and baking together, too.
last week in anticipation of schools closing and our extra curricular activities being paused, i stocked up on a bunch of small craft projects for my older kids to do in the afternoons together. so far, the window art kit has been the favorite.
we all had a good laugh when conrad came into the kitchen dressed in beatrice’s baby bunting! i don’t even know how he got into it, but we needed the laugh (it was the first time we laughed all day and it was already past lunch!). thank you, conrad! it was much appreciated.
i tried to string some christmas lights around the kids crazy forts set up. was going for a cozy reading nook but they honestly have just been sitting on the sofa to read. ha!
when in doubt, give them a box! it’s the tried and true best toy on planet earth!
sending love and prayers, friends.