The new normal is anything but. Changes are hurling at us at an ever increasing speed while simultaneously time is standing still. At my house we now have four generations living under one roof as my daughter and her 2 year old have temporarily moved in along with me, my husband and my mother in law. I have been able to slow down and appreciate the natural world around us while in the midst of potty training, turning Amazon delivery boxes into trucks, making playdough and trying to learn new technology to be better able to communicate with you and your children. Of all of these tasks the technology has been the hardest. I am used to face to face contact and interactions with children. I am learning slowly (mostly at naptime) but I am learning.
At times I think back to how the world felt right after 9/11. On that day I was busy conducting home visits with Barn children: I heard only bits and pieces of the news on my car radio as I drove from house to house. I can remember how surreal it felt to be spending time with the children telling them calmly what school was going to be like that year; trying to convey a sense of control, peace and security while inside my thoughts were reeling-my emotions scrambling. At that time everyone was talking about how the world had forever changed. No one truly knew what would happen next. But the important message that we had for our children was that we would be there for them. We kept up routines, we provided love, security and assurances, while being mindful of the world around us and we took care of ourselves while doing so. We were careful about our adult conversations and did our best to keep our youngest away from radio and television reports that provoked anxiety. We kept our answers to their questions simple, direct and age appropriate, remembering when they asked us something to re-ask, “What have you heard?” or “What are you thinking about?” Their thought process can be very different than ours and their worries may be very different as well. We learned to adjust then and though life is decidedly different now, we are and will adjust again. As creatures we are adaptable.
Now, we are all adjusting to the dichotomy of “social distancing” from others while spending incredibly increased family bonding time in tight quarters. Memories are being made and all of life is not a perfect Instagram post. There will be moments of frayed nerves, of toes stepped on both figuratively and literally, of spilled milk, of tears over unmet expectations. There will also be laughter over some of those same moments and feelings of excitement over simple joys such as discovering a spring flower or mastering a new skill. We will come out on the other side of this and life will go on, not exactly as it did before, and none of us can say with any certainty how we will all be affected. But what we can give our children is unending assurances that we are there for them; that we will continue to provide unconditional love, support, safety and acceptance.