Yesterday, we split up the four kids. We do this every once in awhile to give them a bit more 1:1 time (or, as it happens to work out, 1:2 time. My 4 year old had his first birthday party in over a year (actually the first for our entire family in over a year), so my husband took him and my 6 year old. It was a masked, handful of kids, outdoors at a large playground, candy and cupcake get-together. They had a blast.
In the meantime, I took my 7 month old and 2 year old downtown. We parked at the train station (my 2 year old’s favorite thing to do), watched trains go by, crossed the tracks a few times and then stopped by some stores to support local businesses. We purchased art supplies to keep the kids entertained in the afternoon and perused the bookshelves for Lion Guard books (another current fave for the 2 year old). We also stopped for croissants.
Downtown, there is a French bakery that makes the most delicious pastries. In 2020, when the shutdown began, we ate at a home for 2.5 months. This was a pretty big deal to us because we do enjoy eating out. Ever since my husband and I were dating, we would go out for coffee, ice cream, cocktails, multi-course dinners – definitely a splurge. With the kids we became less fancy in our dining options, but we still ate out quite a bit – indoors, outdoors, with or without music – so it was a big change for us. In the beginning, we didn’t know whether COVID-19 could be transmitted via food preparation, and we were all so nervous (plus I was pregnant), so we didn’t venture out at all. My husband cooked dinner every single night, as well as most breakfasts and lunches. In May, we decided to eat out for the first time and went to this very same French bakery. I stayed in the car with my pregnant belly and my 3 boys, and my husband stood on line with his mask. They were letting one person in at a time. He purchased a few croissants and we ate them at a local park before riding bikes (the playground was closed at the time and the parking lot was roped off).
Yesterday was a reminder that we are moving in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19. I stood on the line (masked, as was my 2 year old) with almost a dozen people. The outdoor seating was filled to about 50%. I felt okay bringing both kids into the bakery to order. We ate on a bench near the train and I fed my 7 month old a packed up lunch (broccoli and applesauce purees) – the first time he had ever “eaten out” with me. It felt almost normal. Older kids at a birthday party, younger kids enjoying downtown. Definitely warmed my heart.
What doesn’t feel normal is that we have yet to see the grandparents. My in-laws are older and not yet fully vaccinated (although did have COVID in January) but my parents are younger and have been vaccinated for a few months now. I wish they would just fly out to us. I imagine the thought of flying during a pandemic is anxiety-provoking, but it seems pretty safe with vaccines and appropriate masking/eye protection. There’s just no way that we’re going to fly to them with four unvaccinated kids. To be honest, I wouldn’t even want to fly with all the kids if we didn’t have a pandemic to worry about. It’s getting harder and harder to talk on the phone with my mom because she spends the whole time lamenting the pandemic and saying she’d be here in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for COVID-19. And yet I have friends with parents who are immunocompromised and unable to fly because they can’t get vaccinated or because they haven’t mounted antibodies. Friends whose parents are international and are unable to take off enough time to visit with quarantine requirements and testing feeds. And it seems so silly to me that we’re still not seeing them just because there’s a flight involved. Maybe I’m being selfish and lacking in compassion here. Who knows. All I know is that my husband and I are running on fumes right now. We miss our families and will not feel like things are back to normal until we are able to see them again.
At least we can enjoy the simple things again – browsing the bookstore, spending time downtown, getting croissants. Very slowly moving towards normal.