Tomorrow marks 18 months since the last “normal” Friday. Since the last day I sent my kids to school and child care without a mask. Since I did a public speaking event in person.
Today, Axel got on the bus. He started Kindergarten. Reese, a newly minted second grader, was with him, both as shepherd and chaperone. They had masks. They had new backpacks. They were so excited.
And here I am, with a full workday to myself, on what looks like a glimpse of the new normal, (although we all know it isn’t; none of us truly knows what that will look like).
I am all of the expected parental emotions: happy and sad and stunned once again at the blink of time that is parenting. I am worried about the regular school things (Will they make friends? Will they be a good friend? Will they like their teachers? Will their teachers like them? Will they learn what they need to learn?) And I’m worried about the now-regular pandemic things (Will they get sick? Will they lose their masks? Will they remember to wash their hands throughout the day? Will their teachers stay healthy?).
What has fully caught me off guard this morning, however, is the quietest of things: a simple bit of headspace.
For a few brief hours, however fraught, the day is suddenly mine. It has been 18 months since I even dared to consider such a thing.
The immediate reflex to fill this space with work and chores and social media and news distractions sits with me. It has become my autopilot. Yet, I see that for what it is: an easy means to escape all these other feelings and thoughts, things that very likely deserve some reflection of their own.
If you are currently set on survival autopilot, I wish you the space today to hit the pause button.
Yes, we all have so much to do. But there is also so much worth pausing for. And, at least for today, I am grateful to have liberty to choose the latter.