It’s a learning experience.
When my oldest was asked, as a kindergartener, “What’s something your mom always says?” that was his response. He could’ve said any number of things:
What’s that smell?
Why is this wet?
I JUST cleaned this.
Not ’til I finish my coffee.
Get down. That wasn’t meant to hold your weight.
Or the ubiquitous, Why is there always crap all over the living room?
But my lovely firstborn chose something that makes me sound insightful. I would deliver this “learning experience” adage when he was down on himself for making a mistake, trying to point out that mistakes are how we learn to do something different the next time. I was not born with this wisdom. I, just like my kid, expected perfection of myself the first and every time. It was only later in life I began to tell myself to learn from my screwups and move on.
While all of this sheltering in place isn’t a mistake I’ve made, instead of lamenting what we can’t do, what’s not available, I can look at what I’ve learned from it.
- We do not actually need all the activities we had previously scheduled into our lives.
- We are all pretty good at entertaining ourselves (even the oldest, extrovert child) when we have ample opportunity.
- While I am fond of baking, given enough free time, I still don’t like to cook.
- The people in my neighborhood are awesomely supportive of each other in good times and bad.
- Having only each other to play with for quite some time, our kids are now emotionally closer to each other.
- I hadn’t lost interest in my hobbies before the pandemic; I’d just lost time and energy enough to want to pursue them.
- Jason and I can still do projects together, and even if they are a pain in the ass, we don’t take it out on each other.
- Trading books, puzzles and plant cuttings with friends may not be the same as dishing in a bar together, but it’s fun and bonding in a whole different way.
These are the things I want to hang onto longterm. Most of them have to do with protecting free time so that everyone in our family has the opportunity to get bored and think, “what next?”
Some people take “what next?” time and invent things to solve the world’s problems or start new, innovative companies or side hustles. That’s not what I’m after here. I want to maintain the leisure we’ve found during this time of everything shut down — books, movies, gardening, playing. That, to me, is the stuff that makes life worth living. And coronavirus has made me realize, I missed it. What have you learned from the pandemic fallout that you’d like to keep, longterm?