I am on one of my car joy rides, just me alone, cruising around our neighborhood because: sanity. I get to a particularly leafy street and notice the sun streaming through colorful leaves, one of those moments that makes you feel like you are in a painting. I stop the car and stare. Just. Stare. When you're a mom, life is always a whirlwind but it's been even more so since March, when keeping up with everything takes everything I've got and I rarely take the time or have the time to just ponder and be still with my thoughts. This is probably because my brain is also working overtime to not let the weight of what is going on in the world oppress me. In the car, nobody's yelling "WHERE ARE THE SCISSORS?" or demanding a snack or asking to move to Los Angeles (Max, of course). For now, I am in the moment and I relax and let it wash through me.
I am sitting on our front steps, taking a rare break from working in the attic—some days, I am up there nonstop from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. "I need to get out more" has a whole new meaning these days. Our neighborhood is even more quiet than usual, as it has been since March, and it's still unsettling. Sometimes it makes me think of scenes in The Walking Dead when the gang hits a new area and it's totally deserted. If zombies ever did show up, I'd think: 2020!!! I take some deep breaths and turn my face up to the sun.
I am in the backyard with Dave and Ben, prepping for winter. It's one of our annual chores—put the deck furniture into the shed and store the outdoor toys and sports gear. But this year, I don't mind. It's 60 degrees on a November day and the sun is warming my body and mood. There is legit research on how uplifting sunlight can be—it boosts your levels of serotonin, aka the happiness hormone and improves sleep, among other benefits. Ben is giddy-excited; we have an outdoor cloth tube for jumping, and when we took a close look we realized there were slugs all over it. Ben collected them in a paper cup. We have yet to get a pandemic puppy; do pandemic slugs count?
I am bustling around the kitchen, half-listening to Max's virtual class session. They are discussing Thanksgiving and what they are grateful for. His teacher is quite awesome. "Max, tell Mrs. A. you are grateful for her," I suggest.
Max tells her that and she says, "Awww, Max, I am grateful for you, and every day when I see your smile. You bring sunshine."
And I look at my boy, sitting there at our kitchen table as the hellstorm of a pandemic whirls outside our door. Feeling gratitude for the blessings in your life is yet another cure for pandemic anxiety. And he beams at me and I soak up that sunshine.