In some new parent spaces I visit online, I often hear some version of “OH NO! My pandemic baby has had an unnatural life in lockdown! He’s going to be socially stunted!”
It’s easy to get hooked by big fears like this, especially when you’re new to the parenting gig. So I spent some time thinking about it. I thought about how my own anxiety has been at an all-time low since the lockdown that began early in my pregnancy.
I thought about all the daily stresses that Lila has never experienced: the inevitable fraying of nerves that comes with tight schedules, with rushing in and out of the house, with the clashing of human energies that accompanies a life steeped in society.
And I thought about this cultural idea that we have to be exposed to discomfort so that we’re better at tolerating discomfort. Which, when you come right down to it, is a pretty whack idea.
I spent decades pushing myself into highly stimulating environments, believing that it was somehow “correct human behavior.” I thought that my hatred of it reflected poorly on my ability to be human—rather than exposing some core incompatibility.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE the human world. Like the saying goes, it’s a great place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there. The past 18 months has given me my first-ever taste of the complete opt-out. And I found it tasty indeed.
The pandemic has delivered its own heartbreaks to our household, of course, and I don’t want to romanticize this crisis. Lockdown itself is a lonely and desperate experience for many. But the fact is that it’s brought a sweet layer of peace into our home.
Over these months and months, the five of us have knitted our individual energies into a delicate lacework that lets us move among each other with harmony. It decorates our rituals and the maps of our days, together and apart.
A year of peace. Such an elusive experience in a 21st century life. And for Lila, I can only feel that if it stunts her development in some way, maybe that’s not a necessary development. We can teach her noise and movement later. For now I’m happy teaching her the gentle language of shifting afternoon sunlight.