Things are a little weird right now. Our world, as we know it, has changed.
You just turned 10 months old, during a global pandemic. We are in social isolation. You will not see your grandparents, cousins or aunts and uncles in person again until you are at least one year old (and probably more). We won’t be going to the library, the bakery, the park.
You’re walking now and you’ve had plenty of time to work on your cool new skill while hanging around the house. Your favourite thing to do is walk across the room, arms stretched towards me, and throw yourself into my arms.
You’re so good at making people happy. You even have a job doing just that.
At just four months old, you started your job as a volunteer with Roots of Empathy, an international organization that offers empathy-based programs for children. You probably won’t remember this when you’re older, but it’s your job to teach the grade fours at our local school about kindness, communication, love and empathy. You love it when they sing to you. You make all the kids smile. They love it when you visit. You won’t be able to see them again any time soon either.
We can’t go to a lot of our favourite places or see a lot of our favourite people, but we get to be home together and that is the best-case scenario in this whole mess.
A lot of people don’t get to be together. We have people in our family who are emergency response workers, who work in grocery stores and people who would be at risk if they caught this virus. There are plenty of brave people, out in the world, working so everyone else can stay safe. We are worried for the people we love, and so is everyone else.
Even though your cousins live on our street, we can’t play with them. We wave as we walk by their house, and talk through windows and fences.
The world as we know it is on hold for an undetermined amount of time. It makes me feel anxious and worried for the future. But you are blissfully unaware of current events. You are the only member of the family who doesn’t seem to mind that things are a little different. In fact, you seem to prefer it.
You cry when anyone in our family leaves the room, or goes outside to play without you. You like us all to be together. Well, baby, you’ve got it your way for now.
You are my greatest comfort during this uncertain time. You are pure innocence and unadulterated joy. To you, the best things in life are all the things we get to do every day in social isolation: Clapping, singing, eating, hanging out with your brothers, toddling around the house and giving me big gummy smiles just when I need them.
You are my therapy baby. A balm to my anxious soul.
We cannot plan very far into the future, because we don’t know what it will look like yet. But we can plan some things.
This spring, we’ll grow a vegetable garden. This summer, we’ll play with the hose.
Even though we’re away from other people, we’ll all get through this together. Some, like you, will walk bravely and confidently through this time, even though they feel a little unsteady on their feet.
Others, like me, will spend a lot of time worrying. But we’ll get through it thanks to the people in our lives who know there’s nothing more important than being able to walk across the room to our favourite person and throw ourselves into their arms with abandon.
Hopefully, one day soon, everyone will be able to.
And I know when you read this, a long time from now, the sun will be out, along with plenty of people enjoying it together.