“Corona time.” I wish that was descriptive of a relaxing happy hour with a cold, lager beverage in my hand. Instead, in this day and age, “Corona time” has a much more negative connotation, and it’s honestly pretty scary.
We have been struggling to survive in a huge world of uncertainty, never knowing how the next day is going to play out. We are living in fear. Fear of our loved ones falling ill with COVID, or getting sick ourselves; we are even living in fear of running out of toilet paper, for God’s sake! We sit at home every day with our children, just waiting on the next big catastrophe to come along and complicate our world even further during this Coronavirus pandemic.
I, in particular, have been in an immense struggle with my mental and emotional demons that persisted long before we found ourselves amidst this global pandemic. Psychiatry, antidepressants, and mental illness have been in my vocabulary for over half of my life. And this complicated and unsettled world has definitely heightened my struggles and made life much harder to cope with.
Take today, for example. I’m sitting at my desk, working from home, and I’ve felt the feelings of anxiety and despair creeping up on me all morning. It’s gotten heavier and heavier on me as the day has progressed. And suddenly, I find myself with my face in my hands, crying my eyes out, and almost to the point of hyperventilating. I decided to take a mental health break to try and get myself calmed down because I definitely can’t work in this collapsed state.
And then, God brought my little boy into the room, at just the right moment.
Here he comes, so innocently, with his new Lego set, ready to arrange every tiny block so delicately into a fantastic airplane, complete with a spinning propeller on the front. He looks at me with a questioning eye, “Are you taking a break from work right now?” I tell him, yes, tears streaming down my face, and I can tell he is unsure about my current display of emotion.
But, then again, he’s sort of used to seeing me cry, Mommy cries all the time, for no particular reason that he understands at his young age. He crawls up on my bed and displays his Lego pieces- oranges, whites, blues, and grays- and lays out the instruction booklet for putting together the plane. I sit down beside him, wiping the tears from my face and drying my hand on my comforter.
And we “play” Legos. We assemble every tiny block according to the instructions, put together every intricate puzzle piece, even attach some rubber wheels to the underside of the finished plane. And I am very proud of our finished product; our colorful Lego plane makes me feel accomplished, and a lot less sad and anxious, I might add.
But just as soon as we are done with the plane’s assembly, he is ready to un-assemble the pieces and parts and follow the other set of instructions to create a jet instead. He needs a lot of help to disassemble the plane. I had to use my fingernails to get every small Lego piece apart. “Mommy, you just cut my nails,” he says, offering the reason as to why he can’t do it himself.
In my mind, I secretly hope that he has me take apart the pieces because he is enjoying his time with Mommy, much like I am enjoying my time with him. I hope his soul is filled with peace and his heart is filled with love, just like mine were in these moments together.
I end up ruining my nail color disassembling the Lego plane. And we work again to reassemble the pieces into a fabulous jet, and then again into a cute little helicopter. (I’m amazed at how versatile one Lego kit can be!) My nerves are calmed, my mood is a bit lifted, and together, my son and I have created three awesome flying machines out of tiny plastic blocks.
But most importantly of all, I have actually stopped and spent some quality time with my son and realized what is truly important in life, especially during this extremely difficult time in our world.
My anxiety attack, my feelings of hopelessness and sadness… without them today, I wouldn’t have taken a break and experienced such precious moments with my little boy. Even during a pandemic, even when I am so unsure what tomorrow will bring, and especially apprehensive of the days ahead, I thank God for today’s opportunity to enjoy Legos with my sweet baby. Even if it ruined my nails. Even if my fingers are reddened and sore. Even if I had to experience the overwhelming anxiety and depression that preceded these precious moments. And I’m reminded how important my family is to me, and how vital these moments and experiences are to my mental health, and to survive in today’s challenging world.