Parenting during a Pandemic

Yesterday my son turned to me and said, “I want COVID-19 to end, and I don’t.” 

I was surprised by his comment.

I also felt the same way.

He wants COVID-19 to end so that suffering will end. 

We all do. 

We want an end to daily news reports of the death toll that continues to rise. 

We want an end to the stories of suffering and loss.

We want an end to the calls from cousins in New York who are sheltering in place with a fever and have been inside for days. 

We want an end to the calls to friends and siblings with all the ‘what if’ scenarios which include aging parents and a second wave resurgence months after things have gone back ‘to normal.’

He wants some things to continue too.

Family time on the couch as we huddle to watch the 8 o’clock news. Late night movies that open windows into worlds he didn’t know existed. Days with less structure, more boredom that can give way to bursts of creativity. Morning family jogs around the block. Less school.

The way we are living now is more simple. There’s less distraction. We can notice more. I have never spent so much uninterrupted time with my children. I am becoming attuned to their patterns like what sets them off and how long it takes them to repair and bounce back.

I am becoming attuned to my own needs more too and to what makes me happy. The smallest doses of morning exercise, a call to a friend, an opportunity to offer care or help to someone outside my immediate sphere and a time for prayer are the building blocks of my meaningful life now.

This precious time offers us a portal into another dimension. The ambitious lives we are used to living can be calmed for a bit. Our world is smaller, our influence may be smaller still. That smaller sphere is a window that can open us up to something much greater.  

Ernest Becker wrote about the human condition in his seminal work, The Denial of Death  “[man] can never banish anxiety; what he can do instead is to use anxiety as an eternal spring for growth into new dimensions of thought and trust. Faith poses a new life task, the adventure in openness to a multi-dimensional reality.”

I want to savor these last days of Passover and the preciousness of our lives now. And in the weeks leading us toward Shavuot I hope we can move toward a new understanding of ourselves, anew understanding of our children and partners, and a new openness to our natural world and to the sense of connection to that which is beyond.

About the Author
Dasee Berkowitz is a Jewish educational consultant living in Jerusalem. She is the Director of Ayeka's "Becoming a Soulful Parent" project.
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