There’s a catchy pop song that was a big hit a few years back, and part of it echoes so plainly in my ears now: “How am I going to be an optimist about this?” That song was about Pompeii, and what’s swirling around us these days is, no doubt, just as much of a candidate for the history books.
I don’t really know how I’m going to be an optimist about this, but I may have one little idea: I will sleep when the baby sleeps.
For those of you who aren’t parents, the phrase “sleep when the baby sleeps” is given to new* parents to remind them that they too need rest, and that you’d better get while the getting is good. Of course you want to stay up and fret about whether your baby is breathing in the night. Of course you want to gaze for hours at their features while you hold them in the moonlight. But babies wake up, and cry, and nurse, and because you didn’t sleep while the baby slept, you’ll be tired and cranky the whole time, and possibly want to throw anything within arm’s reach at your napping husband.
And so it is in these long, languishing days of quarantine, I will sleep when the baby sleeps. Not really sleep, of course, because my kids are much too fond of crawling all over me and incessantly asking me questions, but I will just focus on what the immediate need is, at this moment. It’s all I can do. It’s all anyone can do.
Farmers have a similar saying: “Make hay while the sun shines.” There’s no point in making hay while it’s raining; it’d get ruined. So instead, you clean the dishes or wash the walls or count raindrops sliding down the window. You do what you can with what you have in front of you.
We all want to make hay, I get it. We all want to watch the baby sleep. But most, if not all of us reading this will need to pretty much be sitting in their homes, where those things just cannot – or should not – get done. So what can you do? How can you be an optimist about this?
I can’t answer that for you. But for me, it’s truly getting down to the brass tacks. The minutiae of it all – what’s in front of you.
We have more time for walks, the kids and I, because we’re homeschooling now and there’s no one to tell us no. The smallest buds are coming out, and the robins have soared back into the yard, looking for bits and bobs to feather their nests. My kids are excited that Spring is earlier this year. “Because the groundhog didn’t see his shadow!” Says the oldest. “Yeah!” chimes the younger. “Punkshatawney Film didn’t see it! We get Spring!”
We get Spring. Yes, we get trouble, too. But we get Spring. Enjoy it! And take a nap, when you can.
Until next time, be well!
*This advice is only for first-time parents, because once you have more kids all bets are off…unless there’s a tremendous gap in age between your kids and you have one newborn and one teenager who works and can drive themselves anywhere they like. Well done to you, I say.
About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.