I think we can all agree these past few months have brought about a good amount of change in all of our lives, and hopefully we can find that at least some of those changes have ended up moving us in a more positive direction.
When Covid first hit and our family found ourselves together all day at home with no school or work, as much as we had always longed for the extra time, we struggled to find a sustainable routine. I would follow the kids around, constantly picking up toys, straightening the shoes kicked off by the back door, wiping down surfaces and balancing entertaining my three children with one hand while cooking dinner with the other.
At the end of the day, it left me feeling exhausted and stressed. It was definitely not the response I
would have hoped to have to our life actually slowing down.
As the days wore on, I started noticing small, subtle changes happening around us. Neighbors began turning their music up a little louder as they ate dinner in their backyard, more families out on evening walks in the middle of the week instead of rushing off to practices or rehearsals and my personal favorite was passing by a house on our street and seeing two little girls playing in the sprinklers in their birthday suits while their tired, laughing parents watched them from lawn chairs.
All around was a sense of letting go of our normal rules and routines. We didn’t have much of a choice, but we needed it to be able to breathe a sigh of relief in these trying times. It made me remember a piece of advice a friend gave me years ago as I was about to have my first baby: “Say yes whenever you can because, as a parent, there are so many things you have to say to say no to.” This sentiment felt particularly important and applicable at this time rife with stress and tragedy.
As I repeated that mantra in my head, soon I stopped arranging the shoes kicked off at the back door and joined in. When my 4-year-old daughter asked for yet another fort, I stopped myself from giving her the practical “not right now” answer and instead chose to give an emphatic yes.
We built forts that used every blanket in the house and took over the entire living room. They were magnificent, and in her eyes, magical.
The funny thing is, the more we made them, the simpler they became to set up and take down. They became part of our new “practical” routine.
When I painted and one of my kids wanted to join in, I started saying yes. I got less done, of course, but I hope they remember those moments always. And acrylic paint on wood floors comes up so much more easily when you just keep painting and clean it up later. Play dough crumbs, construction paper scraps, glue spots on the kitchen table, dried grass from wet feet running inside have all become things I’ve tried to do a better job of appreciating instead of quickly removing as if they never happened. As the old saying goes, they will be gone before you know it.
I look forward to the day when quarantines are memories and life resumes with some normalcy. There are also things I hope I always carry with me, like embracing the slow down, the messes, the processes over the products, and a lot more emphatic yeses wherever I can fit them in.
Photos by Chris Castro
Tricia Castro is an art educator and painter in OKC. She loves art, healthy cooking and traveling with her family (especially to New Mexico!). She is married to the love of her life, Chris, who makes her laugh endlessly and cooks all of her favorite food. Her three kids, Benny (11), Marigold (4) and Frankie (1), keep her laughing all day, ensure she is never short on hugs and never gets too much sleep at night. Follow her on IG at @triciacastro and @triciacastro.studio.
Chris Castro is a local illustrator, graphic designer and home cook. He loves fly fishing, photographing New Mexican landscapes, late-night taco runs with his son Benny, tending to his plants and spending time with his family. Follow him on Instagram @omarchris and @rangercreative.