A mom talks about how this pandemic-ridden era is asking more of mothers than ever before
There is a common bond that holds mothers together. Much like a secret club, we connect with other moms on a personal level, even if we’ve never met. When they say, the struggle is real, it bears a different meaning for us. These days, we have been tasked to step up our game, to bear the brunt of getting our families through a very particular hurdle— to raise our kids amidst a worldwide pandemic. There’s a question everyone is asking themselves that weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of parents everyday— how much longer are we going to have to deal with this?
They just lit the torches of our already complex juggling act
Personally, parenting amidst a pandemic has been a balance of joy and grief. When we went into lockdown in March 2020, I felt prepared and even looked forward to having some down time with my family. As a bonafide homebody, I didn’t have a problem with staying at home, although the concern for financial security made me a little nervous. Nevertheless, I bought excessive amounts of flour for baking, I researched activities for the kids to get into, it was movie night every night, we stocked up on face masks, and quarantine didn’t seem so bad overall.
And then the days dragged on. We went on a loop as night turned into day and weeks turned into months. It became increasingly more difficult as time went on, and as soon as we passed the one year mark I completely hit a wall. We grieved the loss of loved ones from a distance, we missed birthdays, baptisms, graduations, and countless other milestones that would have usually been a cause for some type of celebration. Death creeped in so close to home, and social media started to read like more of an obituary than anything else.
I felt depleted. To my surprise, although it should not have come as a shock, I was not alone. We were all feeling this way, and I didn’t even stop to think that others were experiencing all of this the same way I was. We all felt robbed. Where was the promise of the life we had envisioned for our kids?
Letting it all out
Of course, a lot of us took out our frustration on social media. Too many comments dripping with guilt, as if they had no right to complain because they lived in a comfortable home with a fully stocked refrigerator. We all felt bad for missing the adventure of travelling, because it felt superficial compared to families who were starving or looking for work. So many of us were disappointed at the reality of working from home when it was once something we wanted so badly. We struggled with the balance of joy and grief, but they were valid grievances nonetheless.
Our fears and worries are more than reasonable during such an uncertain period in our lives. Perhaps these once-in-a-lifetime milestones might pass us by, and it’s so different from what we once imagined. This is something we all grapple with. Our children, resilient as they may be, are dealing with something much bigger than we ever expected to encounter, and it’s no surprise that we have taken on this extra load of worry for them, as well as for ourselves.
I found comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone. Although the experience has been strange, and the expected impact it would have on our lives is something we can’t predict (although bets on having to deal with new challenges once we have to readjust all over again), we’re all looking forward to being able to move on.
A cup filled to the brim
Nobody expected to ever live through a global pandemic. When we had children, we thought about the common snags— sleeping through the night, hitting developmental milestones, which schools to consider, activities we hoped they would pick, and whether or not their diet was sufficient. Now, it’s a whole new ballgame, with added pressure as lockdown continues.
We worry about their mental health due to confinement, their social development, their relationships with now estranged loved ones, their struggle with online learning, and the effects of isolation. What more can we really do?
I’m tired of rejecting my children’s pleas to go outside or visit friends and family. I am sick of seeing the word “pandemic” all over the place. I’m over the face shields and face masks, and the chin pimples that come with it. I’ve had it with the guessing games, the uncertainty, and the ever changing alphabet on lockdown restrictions.
We’re beyond exhausted. That’s an understatement. I can’t even stress enough how badly we want all of this to end so we can go about our normal lives. There are so many questions that we simply don’t have the answers to, and we are just doing the best we can given our current situation, regardless of how hopeless we’re all feeling.
We are still in this together
The coexistence of loss and joy has been a huge part of my experience as a parent during these times. While it’s easy to lose sight of how truly wonderful life can be, the little things that give this very life meaning are still there.
Relationships have been tested and strengthened, newfound purpose and skills have been discovered, and the best of humanity have been able to shine through. Our children have grown before our very eyes, and while we worry about them battling cabin fever, they never fail to show us how strong and capable they can be.
We are all feeling the anguish of this unprecedented crisis. Grieving the losses doesn’t diminish the joy. But as we hold on as best as we can, we can still remain hopeful that better days lie ahead, and soon enough, we’ll have more to look forward to— albeit with a new perspective on life, and with more gratitude than we can imagine.
I look forward to seeing smiles on the streets again, hugging our loved ones fully, and fulfilling our promises of what follows “When this is over, we will…”
For now, we carry on.