‘As I snapped this photo I said, ‘Smile so Daddy can see what a big boy you’re being!’ My heart broke. It’s not supposed to be like this.’: Mom says ‘we may be missing our normal, but we are teaching empathy’

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“This picture breaks my heart. I took this to send to daddy today while we were out running our weekly errands. We have been encouraging Gianni to wear his mask, but not forcing. I talk to him about it, show him mine, and I hand him his as we go into the store, but he just turned two in June so obviously I am not going to force it on him. Today though, Daddy sent us a picture in his mask while he was at work and for some reason Gianni decided he was going to be like Daddy! I snapped the picture to send back to Daddy while encouraging and praising my little man. As I snapped the picture I said, ‘Smile so Daddy can see what a big boy you are being!’

It is not supposed to be like this. This is not supposed to be the world I brought this miracle into. This should not be his first core memories. This should not be my two-year-old’s life. He should be waving at strangers through the aisles and seeing them smile back at him. He should be hugging another child in the toy section as they connect over a toy us parents will not be buying them. He should see the old ladies giggling to each other as he gives me his best two-year-old, ‘NO!’ and they nod in support as if to say, ‘Been there, done that.’

It is not supposed to be like this, but it is. This is the world I brought this miracle into. This is going to be his first core memories. This is my two-year-old’s life. He is still waving at strangers in the aisles, and even though he is not seeing their smile, he is seeing their acknowledgment. He may not be hugging another child in the toy section, but he is still talking to them 6 feet apart and sharing their love of trucks together. He is definitely still giving me his best NO! and he can still hear the older ladies giggle and he can still see me roll my eyes at him through my mask.

It is not supposed to be like this, but it is. This picture may break my heart, but it also fills it. We may be missing out on our old ‘normal,’ but for these children, this is their every day normal. He doesn’t remember going into stores without masks. He doesn’t remember going to open gyms and group play dates. He doesn’t remember not having to put hand sanitizer on after the park, going to a store, or touching anything.

So we may be missing out on this normal, but for our children it is so much more. This is their normal. With this new normal we have an amazing opportunity, an opportunity to teach them. What is a mask teaching my child, you ask yourself?

We are teaching them to be empathetic towards others, not just ourselves.

We are teaching them one small inconvenience is not going to ruin our entire day.

We are teaching them different ways to smile, different ways to communicate with others. We are teaching them how to smile not just with their mouth, but with their eyes and body language.

We are teaching them that not everything is only about them; being selfless in a time of unknowns is how IT IS supposed to be.

So even though this picture makes me sad. It also makes me extremely proud. Proud that I am able to teach my child that it is actually not supposed to be this way, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.

I am proud I can teach my child to be unselfish, full of empathy, full of love, full of understanding, and to know that sometimes, even if it isn’t supposed to be this way, we can do the right thing. Put on our mask. Even though he cannot see my smile, and I cannot see his, they are both there, behind our masks, the way it is supposed to be for now. It is not supposed to be this way, but for now, I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

Courtesy of Lindsey Petrucci

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lindsey Petrucci of Crystal Lake, Illinois. You can follow her journey on her blog here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Lindsey:

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