Yesterday marked the start of my second week being a stay-at-home dad. Something my wife did for years, and now the roles are flipped as she’s working. I can tell already that this new gig is going to teach me a lot about myself, and not necessarily all things I want to learn. It seems that school has begun for everyone now, myself included.
One of the first moments for learning and self-reflection took place in the afternoon. Lydia and I were outside playing make-believe. Per usual, she was princess Leia, I was Han Solo, and we were getting married. Lydia was busy preparing the slushies for our wedding while I got fitted for my tux. I set my phone down on the front stoop to fully embrace my role as Leia commanded me to go to the dressing room located by one of our giant oak trees.
Off I ambled, and by the time I returned decked out in my fancy invisible duds, I noticed that my phone was gone. I looked around, patted my pockets. I swear I’d put it right on the stoop. I looked at Lydia and asked if she’d seen my phone. She smiled at me, put her hands on her hips, and then declared with great sass. “No phones allowed at the wedding. They are much too distracting for adults. I put it away. You can have it back when we are done.” She punctuated this statement with an emphatic stare down.
I took a sharp inhale of breath. Was she being Lydia or was she being Leia? Was she talking to Han or was she talking to me? Perhaps she was talking to both.
I’m only a few days into this stay-at-home gig, but already I have felt the growing itch for connection to the outside world. It’s amazing how easily my phone finds its way into my hands when there is a spare second. Gotta check Facebook or Instagram or ESPN. Gotta make sure the world is still out there beyond the four walls of the house.
Sadly, the constant need for those external connections stops me from being present. So much so, that Lydia has already picked up on it. Is she not more valuable than a like on Facebook or an article on a random sports athlete? Is this time and space with her not sacred space waiting to be claimed? It doesn’t necessarily feel that way when I’m playing Han for the thousandth time chugging back another invisible gravity grape slushy.
Lesson 1 of week 1 is the importance of presence. Not just for Lydia but also for me. To regain and recapture the ability to be fully in the moment. To notice and enjoy the small but beautiful things that take place in the midst of the ordinary: playing make believe, folding clothes and packing lunches. It’s too easy and too natural for me to look to escape these moments. Escape to social media platforms and other people’s lives and other people’s stories all the while missing out on my own life and my own story and the goodness of God.
I’m going to work on putting down my phone so Lydia doesn’t have to hide it. I’m going to work on embracing this unexpected season at home that I have been given. Raise your invisible glass of slushy, and join me in a toast. “To being present.” May we each strive to be more present right where God has placed us.
I too am learning hard lessons about myself as this pandemic has forced circumstances upon me. This awful virus is coming into focus as one of the all things God is working together for good. One of the things I am learning is approaching God and the circumstances before me as a child who trusts her Parent to keep her safe in the midst of the storm. Trust!