We are living though history. We often think of history as something that happened to other people- our forefathers, our ancestors, our grandparents- but we are part of it now. We’re walking through it and we will come out of it different people, changed forever. I guess we are always living through history but right now is a historic and significant time in our lives, our kid’s lives and in our world. It is our moment to own, our road to choose, our story to tell.
As the parent of three young adults, two who have launched to college, I have often voiced my desire to find the proverbial “Pause Button”. You know, that large button we could push that would freeze time and allow to the space to stop and enjoy exactly where we were it that moment. That button that would temporarily stop our kids from growing up, allow us to savor one last family dinner, one last game or movie night or one last holiday together. The big red button that allows us the freedom to choose how to spend our time rather than living with obligation and expectation of what to do next. The chance to savor “being in the moment” and the opportunity to appreciate the moment versus grinding through it. The Pause Button says, “Please let me slow down the passing of days”.
Life felt like it was on fast-forward for so too long, breezing through every day checking off all the things on my mental “To Do” list. Multi-tasking was my middle name. There were always countless things to do–tasks to finish, practices and games to go to, chores to do and places to be. My “To-Do” list was never, and I mean never, completely checked off. I’m guilty of running on full speed, often crashing in frustration or exhaustion, and living like there it too much to do and too little time to do it. My famous last words were “If only I had a few more hours”. Life was a mad dash from one place to the next.
What came next was unexpected… the world hit the Pause Button for us. Time is standing still.
The Pause Button has changed everyone. Every family has its own routine, rhythm and new norm. Each home has its challenges and struggles. Each of us has been forced to adapt, adjust and accommodate to the circumstances that are beyond our control. This pandemic has affected each of us and our lives have paused long enough to catch our breaths and slow the hell down. Every person’s Pause Button looks different.
My Pause Button has both kids home from college so our house of 3 suddenly turned into a house of 5. Our dishwasher runs twice a day, our laundry tripled, and our food bill is quadrupled. Our garbage can is suddenly overflowing by pick up time and every light seems to be on in the house. God bless our electricity bill. Our quiet house is loud and lively now, there are clothes, shoes and stadium cups strewn all over, and our dog goes on more walks than ever before. My kids have chosen dinners at the table together because they have nowhere to rush off too and conversations have extended longer than usual. Our rules seem more relaxed because there seem to be so many rules outside, we have decided to chill on the inside. We have had the time to do the things we wanted instead of just doing the things we needed to do. When your list of To-Do’s shortens, your list of Want-To’s gets to grow.
There are stressors, of course, and we get on each other’s nerves because let’s face it, there is a lot of together time. Financially it’s very scary, but it’s also completely beyond our control so worrying is just wasted energy. At home we have learned to give each other space and worked on forgiveness. Grudges and judgment don’t seem to hold long when you are quarantined with the same 5 people. You either get over things or you’re all in trouble. Grace and kindness are needed if peace and love is to be had.
One of the biggest changes has been the lack of rush. Can I get an Amen?! We aren’t rushing anywhere and it’s refreshing. We take our time and the frantic and hectic pace from before has given in to a more manageable speed. Mornings are sweeter, less stressful and less chaotic. Because we aren’t rushing from one place to the next, we are so much more present and relaxed at home. We seem to be enjoying life in the slow lane.
The Pause Button has also enabled us to find gratitude in the small things. Yesterday I scored a large pack of Charmin Extra Soft Toilet Paper and did a happy dance. I brought it home and presented it to my family like I had found a hidden treasure. Gratitude is a mood that grows with time. And “little things” are no longer petty distractions from a mighty destination but rather small steps in choosing to be happy, regardless of our circumstances. The old habit of obsessing about all that is missing has been replaced with awareness and attention to all that we do have, and I’m realizing it’s a lot. We have found appreciation for the small things in life, and even though we seem to have less, it feels like we have more.
We appreciate going to the store and finding what we need- flour, brown sugar and meat. We appreciate our neighbors who smile and wave at us, the community we live in and friendly faces we see on a walk. We appreciate our health, being thankful to wake up every day and have healthy bodies that rise and shine with ease. We appreciate our friends who make us masks to wear, spot us a roll of TP if we are low and co-workers who check in to be sure we are doing okay. We appreciate our kid’s teachers, health care workers and those who pick up those over-flowing garbage cans every week. We appreciate waking up with those we love, loving relationships with friends, family and four-legged friends. We have learned to appreciate the little wins because the little wins evoke the large emotions and leave the lasting marks on our life.
Years from now I am going to look back and see this Pause Button as a gift, bonus time I never thought I would get. It didn’t come in the way I expected but life never does. This gift of time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.
I am going to remember our Hawaiian themed dinner, going to watch the sunrise on Easter morning, social distancing happy hour, our goofy TikToks, inside jokes with our family and the Zoom connecting with friends and family. I’m going to remember the bonus time my kids got to be siblings. I’m going to remember that when life slowed down, so did my mind and body.
I’m going to remember that even though the world felt chaotic, scary and unpredictable, we were bigger than our fears and our anxieties. I’m going to remember that above the noise of the daily grind was a silence and peace found through the push of a button. I’m going to remember that the Pause Button brought intention, appreciation and connection.
I read somewhere that after a storm, the air is washed clean of whatever had been blocking our view and that we can see farther than before because everything seems clearer and in focus. We may never be the same, just like after 9/11, but maybe we aren’t supposed to be? Perhaps this Pause Button was more a re-set button and when all the dust settles, we will be guided by a new light leading us in a new direction. After a storm there is a new calm and a new beginning.
If there is a silver lining or a take-away lesson from the Pause Button it is that life works better when we depend on each other. Yesterday my 15-year-old asked for a stamp to send a letter to her friend. They have become Pen Pals, throwing it back old school with paper and pen. It’s a small win and one this mom appreciates. Change and progress always begins with one small win.
WHAT DOES YOUR PAUSE BUTTON LOOK LIKE? WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING FROM THIS PAUSE IN LIFE?