“Tomorrow is going to be the best day ever!” squealed my 3 year old daughter the night before Independence Day. We were enjoying our nightly bedtime snuggles as I was explaining to her the importance of the 4th of July. Bedtime is always our best quality bonding time – partly because of the opportunity to connect one-on-one, and partly because she tries to milk every last minute before she goes to bed. We discuss our favorite moments of our day, our plans for the following day, and she usually throws in a few random questions. When she exploded with anticipation at the mention of our 4th of July plans, I felt simultaneously grateful, but also crestfallen.
We have been taking every precaution when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. My children haven’t been beyond the neighboring streets of my neighborhood in almost 4 months. My 1 year old has never had a playdate. My husband works full-time from home and we do the majority of our grocery shopping online. We believe that the health and safety of our family and other people in our community is the paramount priority right now. Even so, it has been difficult to adjust to this new normal.
It has become my full time job to make my children’s days feel special. Some of my remorse in anticipation of the 4th of July was around the pressure I felt to deliver. I wanted to do my best to make the day memorable, because my daughters deserve it. But I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. It still wouldn’t compare to our celebrations from previous years. There were no parades, no family BBQ’s, no block parties. How could I possibly do enough? Mom guilt has been reigning high in my mind lately.
So, I decided to focus on things we COULD do. We scarfed down some homemade chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast while having a mini dance party at the table. We giggled as we got covered in chalk and finger paint in the backyard. We made special star-shaped cookies and drowned them in sprinkles. And we finished the day out with our own mini fireworks show on our street.
Looking back on the day, I realized we made some memories. My children don’t need me to be a preschool teacher or a gourmet chef. They need me to be PRESENT. They crave quality time with their parents. I was much more relaxed and attentive during this holiday because I wasn’t up all night prepping for a party. I was drawing silly pictures with them on the pavement, dancing with them with our sparklers, and hugging them tight every chance I got.
Our kids won’t remember what we didn’t do during this time, they will remember how it felt to be together as a family.