Last spring, when life as we knew it came to a screaching halt, I racked my brain for a way to get out of the house and entertain my newly turned toddler. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure and challenge of staying home with young children probably know the struggle of entertaining them day after day.
My son and I had just gotten in a pretty good routine of doing some sort of errand or activity in the morning to break up our days. But then the world shut down. Library storytime and tumbling class were canceled. Our zoo class was postponed. It was suddenly risky to take my child to the grocery store. I started thinking of ideas to get us out of the house, something that would stimulate my active 1-year-old, and help him burn a little energy.
So we began a daily walk around our neighborhood. Me, almost always leaving my phone at home.
We walk around our two culs-de-sac, sometimes pausing to pick up a treasure. Leaves, berries, blades of grass, all get collected and handed to me. We continue our journey, me holding onto all our found treasures, and him doing his cute little toddler jog, giggling. Always giggling.
We continue like this until we reach the street, where he has instinctively learned to grab my hand. Each time we reach the end of the sidewalk, I tell him: “you hold mommy’s hand in the street.” And he knows. Usually, he lets go when we get across, and we continue on our way. But sometimes… sometimes he holds on. I think it’s because he forgot he’s even holding my hand, but I like to pretend otherwise. In those few moments when he’s forgotten he’s holding mommy’s hand, I’m soaking them in. Trying desperately to hold on to this feeling. Memorizing the way his little hand feels in mine. Realizing I don’t have to crouch down now for him to hold my hand. I can stand up straight and his hand naturally reaches mine perfectly.
We go from bundling up to go for our daily walk, to walking in sandals and shorts, and now, back to bundling up again. We wave to neighbors. “He’s getting so big,” someone yells to me. I know. Boy, do I know. Time is slipping away faster than I thought it would. In a year that has felt so hard and so long, how is my baby growing up so fast? How did we go from bottles to sippy cups, a gummy smile to a mouthful of teeth, unsteady careful steps to running without fear?
Luca, your second birthday has come and gone and I can hardly believe it.
You’ve grown up this past year more than I could have imagined you would. We’ve trudged along this past year together, walking side by side every step of the way. In a lot of ways, you got me through this year. Part of me is glad you are still too little to remember the challenges this past year held, but I won’t forget. And someday I will tell you all about how YOU were the one that kept us going.
This habit we have created, walking together everyday, has become a bright spot in my day. It has been the distraction I needed from the world and so many other things this year. Walking with you has been the reminder I desperately needed to take things one day at a time, and enjoy the simple moments, even when they are amongst some of the most difficult. It has given me the opportunity to just be. I get to watch my son explore and see the wonder on his face without the distraction of cell phones, the news, or the mountain of laundry I have to fold. When we are walking together, we aren’t thinking about anything heavy. We’re just there walking together, La Croix in one hand and found treasures in the other, feeling the sun on our faces. Reminding ourselves that the world isn’t all bad. Reminding ME that all I really need for things to feel okay, is his little hand in mine.