Back to Dirt


As a child, I played outside every single day in my Miami suburbia neighborhood. I ran barefoot through mud while sprinklers sprayed the lawn. I played basketball in the street with the neighbors. I created chalk art up and down our sidewalks. I played softball in backyards where we used our shoes as our bases and felt the grass between our toes.

As a teenager, I turned mostly into a city girl. My days were spent on the phone, shopping, drinking Starbucks, and hanging out with my friends. I was an athlete and got outside time during our games and practices, but my free time, outside of time spent playing softball, was certainly spent indoors.

As an adult, my outside time was spent at Disney or the beach. I lost the part of myself that was connected to the earth and I never missed it. Until my life changed. Until the world changed. And I suddenly found myself pregnant with twins in a pandemic. High risk twin pregnancy, even without the pandemic, was made more high risk with a virus running rampant. My wife, the breadwinner in our house, was furloughed. Our beloved cat of 11 years died suddenly and tragically in our arms. My family living with us temporarily, was spending more time than anticipated attending open houses as a result of a closed, newly masked world.

I found myself, a person with diagnosed anxiety, feeling the stress of my circumstances. Sometimes when the stress would hit new heights, I would waddle my round pregnant body to what was normally a deserted backyard. Being out there, sometimes with my wife or my family, and other times alone, I could breathe again. My mind would stop racing and my heart would feel a little lighter, as I would rub my belly and feel the babies move while feeling the breeze blow my hair with the sun shining on my face.

Now, with the babies here, I find a similar phenomena occurring. The world is still in a pandemic and my pandemic babies have spent the majority of their lives inside our house. We take daily walks to try to get some outside time, breathe in some fresh air, and get a change of scenery. During this time, I noticed that my wild children inside the house- the ones that had us rushing to baby proof everything since they are climbing and in perpetual motion- are still. They don’t cry. They don’t whine. They stop wiggling. They spend our walks quietly looking around, taking in a world they haven’t been allowed to explore.

So one day, in what has now become our little Saturday mid-day ritual, I grabbed our outdoor play pen tent, popped it open on the front lawn, laid out some blankets, spread out a few toys, and brought them outside to lay in the shade and just be. Once again, they were in awe of just the every day in our little neighborhood: cars driving by, neighbors walking their dogs, airplane flying overhead, the wind blowing the branches. Our front lawn became an entirely new frontier.

My wife and I sit there and explain things to them. Grounding ourselves to the present, rather than feeling worry about the future, and introducing them to the little moments that probably seem rather insignificant to anyone who didn’t have to worry about bringing their babies to target or to run errands with them in a pre-covid life. We narrate the happenings to them. “Oh do you see that? Look at that red truck.” “Do you hear that airplane? It’s flying in the sky above you.” In a time, when the indoors of many places are not safe to my unvaccinated for covid babies, the outdoors gives them a peek into the fact that there is more to life than their play room.

And it’s here that this city girl has gone back to dirt too. Outside, I’m not spraying the house or wiping every surface with Lysol after any masked vaccinated visitor enters. Outside, I’m encouraging my kids to feel the dirt, pick the grass, grab a leaf. There is so much that we have lost in this covid landscape and very few things we have gained. While there are not many things I would want to keep from our quarantined existence, I think that I’ll hang on to earth now for myself and my kids, even if it’s just in my little lawn.

Guilt, Shame, and Mother’s Day


Can we talk about shame for a minute? 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially as we rounded the corner on Mother’s day. That may seem odd, but hear me out. In the last 9 months since becoming a parent, we’ve read countless articles, bought an inordinate amount of organic baby food, followed a bunch of pediatric psychologists, physical therapists, and food and sleep experts. We’ve poured over their social media feeds, and followed advice from one resource and then the next on sleep schedules, and how to best start solid foods, and how to get your x-month old to reach x-milestone, in the hopes that we were doing the best we possibly could by our kids. Then, on the days when we didn’t, on the days when we napped too long in the evening because the afternoon was a bear, so the dreamfeed was too late and it took too long to put them back down because they awoke too much, those days, we were filled with guilt and anxiety about whether we were doing a good enough job. Guilt and shame go hand-in-hand with mothering, I find. You get way more of the good stuff, the love, the cuddles, the euphoria of holding your little ones, but the shame and the guilt…they’re there also.

You know, we use the term “pandemic parent” a lot in our house because it explains our behaviours so accurately. Here in the Albrecht Household, we still live a relatively quarantined existence, much in contrast to that just outside our door. Right around the time that vaccinations started to ramp up and the people who previously weren’t comfortable going out, and had the opportunity to stay in, were starting to go out again, we started asking ourselves questions about whether we were keeping the kids’ world too small. We’d see friends with kids out and about again, or family members having gatherings and wonder, are we doing the right thing? 

We’d ask these questions, talk it out, and ultimately come to the same conclusion everytime. We are pandemic parents. They are pandemic children. And until officially stated otherwise, as far as we are concerned, we are still in a pandemic. I’ve had conversations with people who had the opportunity to parent prior to COVID, many of whom are much more comfortable, at this point, putting their kids in team sports, and having people around them. Please understand, this isn’t a judgement against them. On the contrary, I’ve watched them in wonder at how they could exist in this moment with such freedom, where we feel so confined. I’ve watched them take their own forms of calculated risks and asked how can they possibly? And then it occurred to me: We are not only pandemic parents, but we are first-time parents, who became first-time parents to premature twins in the middle of a global pandemic. So, then my mind reframed the question: how could we possibly not behave as we have been. How could we, knowing what we know, having experienced what we experienced, have made different choices? The conclusion: We couldn’t. And so, I stopped judging us for it, stopped feeling guilt about it, and realized that the decisions we were making for ourselves and our latkes were born, not of fear, but of experience. Perhaps, if we had parented prior to being quarantined for half a year during Aly’s pregnancy, our perspective would be a bit different. Perhaps, if our kids weren’t born premature and we didn’t spend two weeks in the hospital with Aly’s preeclampsia like a ticking time bomb, masked, and scared, and overwhelmed. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. But we were, and they were, and we did.

Shame/guilt is a funny thing as a parent. You can feel like you’re doing the best you possibly can, listen to all the experts, of which there are many, for all the things, do all of the things they tell you to do, and still, you will never feel like you’ve done enough. What is that about? What kind of cruel trick is that to play on people dedicating their entire existences to raising good humans? 

I’m not blind to our privilege. We’re blessed to be able to do the things we do for our kiddos and feel guilty for not being able to do more. It just leaves me to wonder if anything will ever feel like enough, or will the guilt of inadequacy always rear its head on hard days and the days you feel like other parents have something figured out that you don’t.

So here’s to all the moms and mom-figures out there that are doing the work and still feel like they do a crappy job some days. You’re doing the hardest thing in the world. In the face of unimaginable odds, you’re raising a person to take on this incredibly difficult world that happens to be an incubator for a virus right now. Here’s to you, because honestly, hard things are our everyday.

Waiting for Normal


You spend your pregnancy, and possibly even before your pregnancy if you’re like us, envisioning your life with your children. You picture beach days with picnics and sand covered baby toes. You picture family gatherings spent passing the baby around from person to person because no one can get enough. You picture days spend at Disney, where your child will have an ice cream bar dripping down the front of their specially ordered family vacation themed shirt. You picture taking them to see Santa for the first time, where they will inevitably cry at this stranger old man who is suddenly holding them. You yearn for a bunch of little moments and adventures in the life you want to give them.

Despite being pregnant in a pandemic, I still spent my pregnant days dreaming of these moments. Moments where we will create special memories that will last our kids forever. Memories that turn into photo albums that we will one day enjoy while we laugh and reminisce.

Of course, reality so far has been quite different from this.

First and foremost, before I continue, let me mention that I do not say any of this looking for sympathy. There is none to be had. I am fully aware that these are first world middle class problems. My children are fed, have healthcare, two educated and employed parents, bunches of love, clothes, a house, and so on. Instead, I decided to share this because I am shocked at how small our babies’ world is due to this pandemic and I wonder…when they are finally able to widen their world view, what will it be like? What will the world look like? How will it feel for them to see that the world is so much bigger than these simple days?

I think we all know that people have approached this pandemic in a variety of ways- some have totally quarantined and have done little since this all began, while some have galavanted about maskless in all sorts of social situations, and of course there are countless versions between these two ends of the spectrum.

As far as our family, Tiffany and I both fall in the high risk category for Covid, due to certain medical conditions we have. I was even more high risk due to the pregnancy- and of course a high risk multiple pregnancy at that. And now our premie babies, with very little immune system developed, are also a concern. This means that Tiffany and I probably fall into a category of people who quarantined to the extreme. We have stayed home since March except for doctor visits and the occasional visit to my mom’s house( she also is quarantining as heavily as we are and when she does have to go out into the world, we quarantine from her too). Groceries are delivered to our house rather than shopping in store and they are wiped down upon receipt. We haven’t stepped foot into a store and the amount of times we’ve even gotten take out can fit on one hand. Basically, our twins lives have been on short walks around our neighborhood, our backyard, various rooms in our house, the pediatrician, and my mom’s house.

There have been times where I wondered how this will impact them. When the world returns to a new normal, and we finally venture out with them, will they be overwhelmed? Will we have to slowly expose them, waiting for a culture shock to hit them? Will their mind be blown being however old they are and never having even walked into a store? How can I as a parent guide them and make the right decisions for them during such unprecedented times?

How, as parents, will this be a major adjustment for us too, as we have to allow them to start exploring the world at some point after fiercely protecting them with our every move during a pandemic? Because if there is one thing I am certain of after spending so many months at home, it’s that staying home all this time transforms you slowly into this hermit version of yourself. That is certainly not the me that I want our kids to grow up with, so I will have to force myself into a metamorphosis of sorts. I’ll have to retrain myself to approach parenting in new ways.

I don’t have any of the answers to share with you. I wish I did.

When I really think about it, parents , especially parents of twins, often spend lots of time at home during the first year anyway because life is so overwhelming and the babies are still so little. I doubt that seeing a lack of places in their early months will really scar them for life, but I do worry about the lack of exposure to people. As an introvert who doesn’t mind some alone time to recharge, I could suggest that interacting with people doesn’t matter, but I know that’s not true. People are the cornerstone of our lives. They are our support, our confidants, our outlets. Our babies are missing out on people. The good, the bad, the ugly of it all. I can only hope that soon they will be able to hug abuelas, kiss aunts, play with cousins, and get introduced to other babies at play dates.

Even now, knowing all of this that we’ve endured through this pandemic, I still hope for the future. I will continue to picture little adventures and hope that one day it won’t be necessary to have them be masked outings. I hope they will be able to hold loves ones in their little kid cuddles, rather than stare at them through face time. In the meantime, we wait for normalcy.

I don’t know what their world will look like, but I know that it will eventually become bigger, better, and we will do everything we can to give them a wonderful life, despite the hell of 2020.