It has become a season for watching.
My toddler and I have spent hours staring out the front window of our house, counting the squirrels and starlings and stray cats. He waves frantically at dog-walking neighbours, and has made fast friends with the garbage men and our mail carrier — but their appearances, though diverting, are tragically brief. He stays at the window long after they have waved good-bye and gone, hoping another friendly face will soon wander our way.
Our home has other portals through which we interact with the world beyond our walls. Video chats with faraway friends and family have become the core of our social diet, and these calls are sustaining and even reviving many important relationships. We spend hours staring through the thin panes of glass that collapse hundreds of kilometres into millimetres of distance and we feel closer to our loved ones than we are in reality... but it’s still a window.
We miss hugs. We miss the helpers who love our child and desperately want to scoop him up and offer us a little parenting relief. We miss grandparents and babysitters and beloved neighbours and aunties and church folk and our village! They are all so willing and so helpless to help us from the other side of these painful sheets of glass.
Our home is a good place. In so many ways we are blessed and safe, and life now resembles in many ways our life as it was pre-pandemic. Our baby boy has both Mum and Dad in the house, and there is love, and food, and play, yet we stand at the windows and yearn for away. Other places, other faces, other things to have and do. We escape our home at the windows of our imaginations, longing for lost access to both sides of the glass that has suddenly walled us in like an aquarium.
But I'm trying to redirect my gaze. It takes an effort of will to focus my heart on the precious inside things my attention has slipped from. Have you noticed, for example, how many different fabric textures exist in one load of laundry? Have you recently revelled in the beauty of a halved red onion? Small things, I know, but I want to swap out the metaphorical binoculars I've been using for a microscope and marvel at my close-up world.
For a while, anyway.
I still need my windows. Birds and squirrels, distant relations and dear friends, cooking shows and Mr Rogers and marble races and comedy specials... it is a season for watching. I'm just trying a little harder to watch the world on my side of the pane.