Even the darkest cloud has a silver lining, and one upside of this pandemic lockdown for parents has been that many of us are able to spend more time with our children at home. That’s especially meaningful to me on this Father’s Day weekend.

Since March, I’ve been able to work from the kitchen while my children are learning from the living room. I know that not everyone can do this, so I’ve been grateful for many blessings: Lunch hours spent outside playing badminton in the backyard or baseball in the front. Walks down the county road. More evenings at home, rather than running around to sports practice. 

It turns out I’m not the only one feeling that way. 

A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education this month finds that almost 70 percent of fathers across race, class, educational attainment, and political affiliation in the United States feel closer to their children during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the study, they’re: 

• Having more meaningful conversations with their children

• Getting to know their children better

• Sharing more with their children about their own lives

• Appreciating their children more

• Discovering new, shared interests with their children

My prayers since COVID-19 began have not only been for healing across our land, but that as a dad and husband I will make the most of this unique time that our family has together. 

Even more so, I hope that the changes of this time — how we’ve grown together, expanded our knowledge of one another and shared the little experiences that form long-term memories — will linger and form the basis for a new, better family life after this crisis is over. 

I hope we have the strength to face the contradictions and challenges head-on. What will we do when the simple, slower life we’ve experienced and enjoyed starts to bump up against the opportunities again for myriad activities.

I hope I remember the value of these quiet times, like these moments from just the last few days: my 9-year-old plucking the biggest seed head he can find in a patch of reed canary grass and giving it to me to put in my cap like a feather. Or my daughter making me homemade limeade. Or my teenager teaching his younger siblings new batting techniques, and both of them promptly hitting home runs into the neighbor’s barnyard.

I’ve been keeping a journal of this time at home, hoping to remember those fleeting details. I would encourage you to consider doing the same. 

These are hard times, but we know this pandemic will be over someday. On this Father’s Day weekend, it’s a good time for us to consider how we can turn this difficult time into an enduring blessing and legacy for our families. 

•••

Masks.

Sadly, they have become political, even a flashpoint of anger.

I’ve heard recently from two local women who have been harassed for wearing masks in stores (even though doctors and health professionals have urged us all to wear masks in public and maintain six feet of physical distancing to keep us safer). 

Have you been harassed about masks? Have you confronted someone else about wearing (or not wearing) a mask? I’d like to hear from you for a future column.

And if you have general thoughts to share on masks, please send it my way, but only if you include reputable, current data and citations. Facebook memes don’t count. We need facts to guide us these days as we chart out these open, swirling waters.

•••

Brian Mittge is social but socially distanced in rural Chehalis. He can be reached at brianmittge@hotmail.com.

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