I’m lying awake and it’s the early hours of the morning. My husband is peacefully sleeping next to me, my son is sprawled across our bed forcing me on the edge. But I don’t dare move for fear of waking our little guy. As I lie here awake – again – I can’t help but think to myself, “this is not what I signed up for”.
They tell you that nothing can prepare you for the joys and heartache of parenting.
I never expected to raise a baby without my Mum around to provide support, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or simply look after my son for a few moments when it all feels too much.
I never expected that my son would grow his first tooth (or first eight teeth for that matter) in the middle of a pandemic. Or that he would take his first steps without anyone to share it with.
I never expected that my son would pick up a face mask as a cue that he wanted to go for a walk outside or the number of times that I’d have to say “no” because it was outside the hours of our curfew.
I never expected that I’d need to navigate having a little one at home all day everyday while I try to be full time worker and full time Mum.
As I lie awake I can’t help but think to myself, “this is not what I signed up for”.
Parenting during a pandemic is hard. It’s isolating. It’s messy. It’s a juggle. Would I choose it in a million years? No way! But as I lie here exhausted, I look over to my son and can’t help but smile.
I got to be there as my little guy took his first steps.
I got to be the first one to hear each new word that he mastered, one after another.
I got to tuck him into bed every day for his afternoon nap.
I got to see the world through his eyes: full of wonder!
I’ve slowed down enough to feel the bark on the trees. The joy that birds bring as they fly through the air or chirp in the trees. I’ve listened to the sound of rustling leaves and running water. I’ve sat in the middle of our driveway staring at the stars and the moon in the sky (and of course street lights cause they’re just as exciting to a one year old!). I’ve seen the world through his eyes and experienced the wonder and incredible joy that these things bring.
As he heads back to day care this week, I’m grateful. I’m tired and need just a moment to myself where I don’t have to be pastor, wife or Mum. And yet there is part of me that is sad too. My little guy has taught me so much. This extra time with him has made my life richer and fuller. And I’m grateful.
As I head back into some kind of new normal, may I continue to slow down enough see the world through his eyes, and experience the wonder of it all. May I not miss those little moments amidst the hurriedness of life. May life not just go back to normal but to a new normal. Our new normal, mess and all.
Merryn is Children and Families Stream Pastor at Crossway Baptist Church. Merryn and her husband have a beautiful baby boy.