August 5, 2020

Aug 5, 2020

Image: Mei Li

  Image: Barbara Ryther

My One Thing

Kathryn Yingst

During this pandemic, I have been trying to be patient with myself. To recognize that my best efforts may vary widely day to day depending upon sleep (or lack thereof), how many Cape Cod Mesquite BBQ potato chips I’ve consumed, and/or how long I’ve spent catching up on the (bad) news. The wear and tear of X many months of a pandemic is no small thing. Still, I’m a Type A, and I’m wired to get things done.

So, I’ve settled on a goal of accomplishing one thing every day. I’m not sure whether it helps to give myself some structure, or whether it is fulfilling a personal need to check off an achievement box. Maybe it’s a little of both.

I’ve found satisfaction in being able to say at the end of the day that I not only got out of my pajamas and put on a fresh sweatshirt, but I also did this one thing. Now, to be transparent: many, many times, my one thing has often been that I put dinner on the table for my family. I’ve found this task has taken more effort these past few weeks because of the cumulative and exceptionally draining emotional toll of trying to be a functional adult and parent during a global pandemic.

Other days, I’ve not only gotten dinner on the table, but I’ve also done something mind blowing like give the dog a bath. Or finally stack the Tupperware lids so they stop falling out of the pantry. Once, I even repainted our coffee table, but out of an abundance of caution I am considering that a fluke. Each day is its own, and I am learning not to put pressure on myself as to how well I navigate them.

Today’s goal was to pick dandelions to help feed the new bunny arrivals at The Center For Wildlife. Our side yard is pretty much exclusively dandelions (don’t judge—it’s eco-friendly), so there were plenty to harvest while still leaving a feast for the bees. I had recruited my teenager in an effort to get both of us into the fresh air and sunshine, and to coax her out from behind a screen. We were making good progress, as I could only count on one hand how many times my daughter had asked to be released from nature to retreat back into the cavern of her room. Within a few moments, though, I noticed that she had become quite still. She was looking down with concentration. This child did NOT bring her phone out here, I thought, instantly irritated. I managed to keep my cool.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she replied, “I’m just watching a bee.”

She wasn’t on her phone. My outdoor avoidant child was sitting quietly among the dandelions, WATCHING A HONEY BEE. I avoided a jaw drop, but only just. We sat for a bit while the fuzzy little bee made its way from flower to flower. While I don’t know what was going through her mind, I do know that my daughter’s curiosity about this small creature gave her pause. And I loved that for her.

We’d end up having cereal for our supper, but a glamorous dinner wasn’t today’s goal. My one thing had somehow become much more.