How social distancing brought us closer than ever
Coffee brewing. Sun rising. Daily coronavirus updates streaming on the TV. Toys meant for ages four months to three years spread across the carpet floor of our second story Oak Creek condominium. One playing a catchy ABC tune, sure to replay in our heads all day, and others broken apart with the wear and tear of time.
Eyes droopy from about five hours of rest, fragmented into episodes of comforting McKenna back to sleep, we gather ourselves and prepare for the day. Brainstorming tasks, indulging in a much-needed caffeine fix of Dunkin Donuts medium roast, we look at McKenna as she returns display of interest.
Within a split-second, she opens her toothless baby mouth and delivers a heart-warming smile and a high-pitched noise resembling the sound of “hi.” We glance at each other and share in a moment of euphoria, realizing how blessed we are with this opportunity to spend time with our daughter.
About a month ago, before the global pandemic spread and social distancing became a necessary habit adopted by all, we would drop McKenna off at nearby day care center and head to our respective workplaces. Following our workdays, we would pick up McKenna, fresh off a feeding from one of the teachers and meet back at home.
Physically exhausted, mentally drained and anticipating some form of nourishment, we would receive a second wind the minute we got to spend quality time with McKenna. Whether it was rolling around on the ground, opening a book from her endless collection or carrying her from room to room as we spend time cleaning — we had a short window to embrace the vibrant, growing personality of our baby girl.
The lights would turn off. Netflix would turn on. Our stomach’s full of a delivered pepperoni pizza or a heaping plate of pasta and chicken parmesan — yes, we love Italian food. McKenna would slowly drift off as she finished her busy baby day with a 6 ounce bottle of warm Gerber Good Start formula.
The work week cycle would repeat, and we would continue to relish our window of time with McKenna.
Once the pandemic spread and the reality of work-from-home set in, it changed the way our society functioned. It also changed the way we orchestrated our daily routine. It allowed us to witness the in-depth development of McKenna.
The time we spent focusing solely on our work decreased, and the time we spent stepping away from our computers and playing with McKenna went up. It became a balance of attending to our energetic, playful girl and going all in on a project or virtual conference.
We continue to spend most of the workday communicating with coworkers, tackling projects, and eating whenever we find some time. However, we can now close our computers and load McKenna up for a walk at the park just around the corner. We can strap her in the highchair when she’s hungry and feed her banana, pear and blueberry mush. We can talk to her when talks to us (more like scream, but we’ll take it) and create our own way of communicating with each other. We can open our patio door, step outside and show her the world in which she will grow up.
The spread of the coronavirus created this socially distant, dystopian world where shaking hands and meeting for a drink no longer exist. It’s a world we understand deserves empathy. Many people are stuck with seemingly inescapable hardships, both financially and physically. While it can be difficult to find moments of joy, sanity and reasons to celebrate, we have come to realize the blessing of this extra time for our little family.
This unique situation presented an opportunity. It allowed us to learn who our child is and be there for her as she achieves milestones. It allowed us to experience the nuances of our daughter’s daily routine. Rather than watching her grow, we are growing with her.
This is undoubtedly a different world from two months ago. For us, though, it’s a reality we’ve learned to embrace, which has reminded us our silver lining is, and always will be, our daughter.