By Wendy Tyrrell
Habitat Management Coordinator
Who would have thought that I would be working from home during the beautiful, showy springtime on Southern Vancouver Island and having to decipher moment to moment, the challenges that encompass all that is our new norm like…how I’m going to attend my next Zoom meeting at the same time that my son Q has a Zoom meeting with his classmates on the latest book they are all reading at home under the B1 English Language Arts Curriculum section…huh? I always thought you read books for entertainment.
This time last year I had five really awesome community-based restoration events successfully completed and more coming up. This year, I’m trying to figure out what it means in Grade 5 math to use an “array model” to help my son do multiplication. The beauty of all of this new learning is that I know that I am not alone and I’m good at faking it! But, before I wallow in my own struggles, I acknowledge fully that I’m an extremely fortunate person to even consider these small dilemmas a challenge.
There are many of us that have relied (heavily) on providing structure and education to our children via the traditional public school model. I may be fighting this tradition with all of its downfalls, but I now realize how I have taken it for granted and how dependent upon it I have been. I’m not a creature of structure and I’m post-menopausal, so multi-tasking no longer comes naturally… being at home with my son, trying to work 25 hours a week and take care of a new puppy (no… not a Covid-induced puppy, just a lucky coincidence), and take care of the daily chores of living in a house (a privilege I’m thankful for) yup– you see it, you’ve heard it from your friends – this is not for the faint of heart.
But, in my weeks of meandering, flailing and trying to do it all like superwoman and also be able to bake bread and completely set up my garden before the May long weekend – well, it’s not working, surprise, surprise. Alas, I know why.
Deep down inside (not even that deep) I know that the most important thing during this bizarre global crisis that has completely shut down the world’s economy and social functionality of life is that I’m available and calm for my son. The lessons here are not big and all encompassing, they are small and mighty. They are taking walks in the evening, strolling along the beach and meeting complete strangers and taking time to just observe life going on without all the human impact and busy-ness and robotic movement onward to the next day. My son’s tendency for passion falls somewhere between a shooting star (both the flower and the stellar kind) and a Minecraft online playdate with his buddy to build a virtual island that you can immediately mine the crap out of to make money to mine more somewhere else. Where is the learning here, I ask myself during these Covid-days. I’ve really come to the conclusion that it lies in the moments in-between. The quiet moments listening to the Robin’s song and the sounds of laughter coming from the backyard as my son jumps on the trampoline. It’s the request from him at night to hike up to the look out spot so we can watch the stars. But, my favourite? The mornings. We spend at least an hour every morning just snuggling in bed with the new puppy and talking. That’s because I’m not structured. I can’t set an alarm right now, it’s not in my blood. I need these moments when I can get them.
Q is learning about life, society, transitions, friendships, challenges, resilience, compassion and that the Earth is dancing in joy right now, because we humans have taken a break and allowed her to breath. We’ve talked about the struggles with the homeless having no where to go, and how if it’s possible for us to house them during this crisis, then we best be housing them after. We’ve talked about the front-line workers and essential folks who are putting themselves at risk to ensure our lives are more comfortable and safe. We were both in awe and sorrowed how quickly and determinedly the First Nations communities gathered together to keep others out to protect their elders and their young. We yell out at 7pm every night to the world and her people saying “thank you!” We’ve explored more local parks and learned about so many new native flowers, we’ve observed owls and snakes, comets (I think it was a jet stream, but Q insists and who am I to argue with an 11 year old) and sunsets that melt into the horizon followed by Venus rising.
We are learning from this and taking the time now to breathe and do less. Our children always learn from us, and we are always learning ourselves. It’s the beauty of parenting and life. Let’s take advantage, if you have the fortunate opportunity to consider it, of honouring this time of solitude and quiet and take time to feel the gratitude for what we have. Let’s talk about closing down parks and wild spaces every few years to humans so the wildlife and the land can take time to breath. There’s so much we can learn from this time of less.
Smile at strangers, call your Mom (or loved ones) and be well.