The tag on my son’s Toronto Raptors jersey is almost tickling his chin as we rollerblade.
“It’s ‘redder,’ Dada, so I can look like a real ninja,” he says, like that explains why his top is inside out and backwards.
I’m in grey nylon gym shorts with paint stains from who knows how many walls ago. I’ve been sporting the same T-shirt for days. It’s 2:15 p.m. on a Wednesday. In 45-minutes, I’ll be on a Zoom video call with some senior leaders at work.
I’ll change my shirt.
Soon enough, school will start and our real lives will pick back up. Homework, rushed mornings and evenings, extra-curricular activities, and other routine calendar moments erased by COVID-19 will find their way back onto the kitchen whiteboard.
I find myself conflicted. While I know going back to school is much needed for my kids, I’ll miss the slower pace of having them home all the time. I’ll miss our family dealing with the pandemic together, sharing every meal nestled into our safe little corner of the world. I’ll miss our home being their playground.
We did more living in our home the past five months than we’ve done in the eight years we’ve actually owned the house.
It was hard; harder than I anticipated. My kids saw me struggle as a newly stay-at-home working dad. And we were some of the lucky ones. Other families have it much more challenging than us. We live in a decent size suburban home with a yard and driveway. We both have well-paying, stable jobs with relative flexibility. Many have the opposite.
Yet, now that this phase is over, I wonder if I’m experiencing emotions similar to what empty nesters might face when their adult kids finally leave home. A mix of reality and optimism for the next stage of life, see-sawing with trepidation and yearning for the past.
Whichever emotion it is, I’m thankful that this moment in time gave me a unique chance to really meet my kids. I’ll miss it.
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