Part 1 in ‘Letters in a Pandemic’ series
A letter for the parent during a pandemic
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No time is an “easy” time to raise children. But right now? Well this is quite the time.
Your usual routines, support systems, activities, and rhythms have been displaced, and sometimes it might feel like the chaos follows an unforgiving exponential curve. But you keep going.
I imagine there are days where you probably feel like you’re doing a bad job at your job, at being a parent, at being a husband or wife. But every day is not some kind of competition against your best self or your fellow parent to win the day. You just being around, doing the things that no one sees, going even when you’re tired, is nothing short of remarkable.
One day, when your tiny, sticky, willful children are grown and you are gray, they will find themselves writing you a birthday card or looking at old photos and will remember this time. This time you walked the perimeter of your yard, looking at the purple-striped crocuses pushing their way from the frigid ground. Those days you cleared off the dining room table that was usually reserved for special occasions and put out trays with Play-Dough and cookie cutters and they got hot pink gunk stuck under their fingernails for the next week. The nights you prayed around the dinner table for nurses and doctors and great grandparents and for the whole, big world. They won’t remember being bored, but they will remember that you were there. That you kept loving. That you kept going.
And to the parents with grown kids: we cherish you, too. You pick up our phone calls and send us coupons for the nice hand soap. You pray for us every dang day and lose sleep still hoping for the best for your child who hasn’t been a child for quite some time. You listen to us complain and cry, sometimes at the same time. Truly, I think you are the real saints. Thank you for your constancy, for loving us even when we are self-absorbed, with minds and bodies in a distant place far from you. Thank you for listening to us talk about what The New York Times said and for being willing to use the word “meme” in a sentence. I’m sorry for making fun of your stockpile of toilet paper that you bought a while ago because it was on sale. Do you think you could mail some here?
As the weeks go by, as the hours tick on, as these strange days continue to come, I pray for you, parent. For the young and the seasoned. Peace be with you.
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“The new life into which we are baptized is lived out in days, hours, and minutes. God is forming us into a new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today.” ― Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary