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When Real Life Resumes

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Today is the one-month mark since we last spent time with friends, so it seemed a fitting occasion to pass on some musings on the current state of things. A month is a long time to spend at home – and we have been home almost exclusively in that time; today we made our second trip to the grocery store and it was incredibly exciting as a result, even if we were only nabbing a couple quick items. (Pandemic or not, sometimes you just can’t refuse the siren call of ice cream…) Not only have we been home, but it’s us. The two of us. Day in, day out, all 24 hours. Granted, this is by no means unusual; for the last two years I have reflected back at the end and have only been able to count about 10 hours in each that we have spent apart. Thus, I had expected this time to be a pretty easy and relaxed sort, but there were a few things I hadn’t counted on – as well as several delightful discoveries that have crept up on me.

With good company and a steady supply of books, anything is possible

First, in regards to our time together – I love it. I do. I am blessed beyond belief to be able to call this kid mine. He is so darn smart, with a smile and laugh that can light up the world, and he gives the sweetest butterfly kisses (or, yesterday, kisses to butterflies). That doesn’t mean it’s always easy though. I felt immediately sorry for him to not have playmates; at five, you need someone who can keep up with you, both physically and imaginatively. I wear a lot of hats around here and for him, but playmate isn’t really one of them. Part of me feels bad about this, but the other part of me realizes it is not up to me to fill every role in his life. He needs to need others, and to rely on himself as well. On my end of the deal, it took a while to realize how much I need the little moments – the drive into town, the quiet at the library, the distraction of running errands – to get that slight break for myself. Without those little snatches of time – which I never really thought of before as an anything, since we’re still together for them – I found myself getting cranky. Without a time or two a week to play with a peer, he got restless. And cue the head-butting. Thankfully, we do have a solid base and adore each other, so we are finding our way – but yes, we have our moments. And we look forward to our mini-breaks with friends and daily rhythms when Real Life resumes.

Giving a black swallowtail a kiss

My second big realization: it is amazing how little I can accomplish when I am home 24/7. Seriously. The house looks like a tornado hit it pretty much always; I am adrift in unfinished projects; I have probably done fewer creative educational activities in the last month than any in recent history; I have neglected writing; I have yet to finish even one of the books I checked out over a month ago… and the list goes on and on. How is this possible? It seems when the outside world hit the slo-mo button, I went for pause instead. We have been in a bit of a drought weather-wise, so pretty much every day looks like this: rouse late, head for a sunny spot on the porch with coffee, set up the picnic blanket in the yard once the coffee is drunk, and… straggle back in before dark. Our dining table is used only for dumping projects on at the end of the day when we drag ourselves in for bedtime stories. I have begun to fear I will prove utterly useless when Real Life resumes.

Our current motto: anything worth doing can be done outside

Another thing I have been noticing is the beauty of spring. This may sound fairly absurd, as I’m pretty certain this is the season most noted for beauty, but hear me out. We are in town multiple times a week normally, and town is about 500 feet lower in elevation than we are. I never noticed the contrast before. Now we are seeing our spring, which is a more rural version. In town the streets are lined with beautiful, blooming trees that eclipse the more subtle hints of the season. I enjoy them every year, while barely noticing the nuances that surround us at home. This year, we hit town one day at peak bloom and were wowed, as our trees were still pretending it was winter, gray and dull and seemingly stubborn. I found myself frowning at them, inspecting them, and then slowly marveling at them. The town trees went from vibrant color one trip to full-tilt greenery the next. Meanwhile our trees very slowly winked and teased with traces of color. I discovered spring is like a secret fall: you can see all the colors, just in whispers. The trees right now shimmer with yellows, greens, reds, oranges, browns – in miniature. The baby leaves let you in on what is to come a couple of seasons from now. How have I never seen this before? I am determined to pay more attention to detail when Real Life resumes.

Our very stubborn trees ignoring the grass and flowers about the change of seasons

Beyond plants, we have both been caught up in our surrounding nature during this and feel so fortunate for where we are. My hat is off to anyone living in less rural areas; the countryside and its inhabitants have truly been our saving grace in this time. I posted recently on the Facebook page about my son and his kinship with animals – a chance encounter with a random critter can be the difference in a whole day for him. Across the last month we have enjoyed two salamanders, a snake, a couple of frogs, horses, our cat and dogs. We have been thrilled to see the local pileated woodpecker up close and have blue jays begin building a nest in a pine along the edge of the yard. We have mourned the loss of our senior male cardinal and extend our sympathies to his widow whenever we hear her call for him. We cheered the return of the hummingbirds and the butterflies. We are distressed over the absence of a favorite toad. Essentially, this has broadened and deepened our kinship with our fellow inhabitants. We are both nature lovers, but now we have the luxury of time and necessity of of filling it to expand upon the basics and feel the pulse of everything sharing our space. I hope we can keep that connection when Real Life resumes.

Appreciating the little things – the little things with many, many legs

Overall, I am so thankful for this experience. It has had nothing to do with the the one thing it has everything to do with: the global pandemic. I’ll admit, I don’t watch the news. I have not, even once across this time, watched the news or read a newspaper or even a full article on the subject. It is impossible to escape though, so I hear plenty, and occasionally check local statistics. I observe guidelines and protocols and am saddened by how many lives have been lost or are in turmoil in the many ways this has affected people, and I in no way intend to cheapen that by relating our experiences. But here on our little green hill, I am grateful for the time, if not the circumstance. I appreciate the challenge it has been, the lessons it has taught, the quiet moments it has shown, the insights I have gained. If I could change anything on this month anniversary, it would be to see our friends again, to spend another fun day together watching the boys romp. And, by golly, we would eat out. I am pretty ready to not cook for just one night. A week or so ago I was starting to pull my hair out a bit and very ready to be done with lockdown, but apart from a few details like these – I’m honestly going to be a little sad when Real Life resumes. (…Though still a little happy, too.)

How are you?

Author:

Who am I? Foremost, the lucky momma of an amazing boy. To be perfectly honest, I am less his teacher than he is my inspiration - I have learned at least as much from him in the last seven years as he has from me. I am an old-timer at heart; I'd rather live on a farm, garden, crochet, and raise my kid out in the sun than anything else. I'm a bit of a technological dinosaur, more geared toward life where you can get your hands dirty and have some fun exploring, learning, and growing. I'm a homeschooled, homeschooling single parent with a passion for my son, nature, and the simple life. I am not here to pretend I know it all or lay out the research or provide a step-by-step game plan. I hope to encourage and inspire families to join in the journey of learning together - and have the fun that life is supposed to be made of along the way. Happy exploring!

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