Updated: Jun 7, 2020
I am not prone to violence. But I did engage in what I consider a pretty violent act one time. I was pregnant with my first child. I was excited. And nervous. And learning SO MANY things. Things about my body. (Did you know you blink way more when you are pregnant because your eyes dry out?
Like waaaay more. Like a bizarre amount more.) I learned things about a tiny growing body. Inside of my own body. Inside OF my own body. And I was reading a pregnancy book someone gave me. In this book, I wanted to read, I NEEDED to read about how I was a damn fine human-making, procreating wonder of the universe. What the book told me instead was every little thing that might ever go wrong at every stage in every way.
So I picked up that book and hurled it with all of my might. To where? Just as far away from me as my played-on-a-city-softball-league once arm could get it. Don’t worry. It wasn’t very far. And there were no actual children outside of my body yet to shock and horrify with my sudden outburst. That dreadful book might have actually served a purpose if it listed all the things you could worry about then had a pop out page at the end that read, “Psyche!” and went on to explain that the chances of any of this happening was about 1 in 1,000,000,000. It wouldn’t actually stop you from worrying about all the things that may possibly go wrong with or for your child(ren) until the day you die. But maybe I wouldn’t have hurled it across the room.
Am I exaggerating? I don’t know. Depends on the day I suppose. (Not about throwing the book, I definitely did that.) I think it’s fair to say though that the mind of a parent is a never ending twirl-a-whirl of what may go wrong and what can I possibly do to fix it? (And is it just me or do these worrisome thoughts go into high gear the minute your head hits your pillow at night?)
And then what about the daddy to be in this book throwing incident? Surely he had his own thoughts and worries during this time of becoming a parent. And of book chucking. And every day since then. (Don’t worry, my friends, we thought and still think it’s pretty funny. More a reflection of the fear mongering attitude around a very normal life change than about my mental stability.)
It can be a lot already. Family and all of their opinions on everything from names to strollers. Friends. Neighbors. Bosses. Co-workers. All freely sharing their opinions on how to raise the perfect kid (Wait? What? When did we achieve perfection status in humans?) if you just do what they say. Read, “Don’t mess this up, parents.”
Navigating these relationships can be difficult and confusing.
As time goes on though, we do learn how to work with our partner as a parent. How to draw boundaries with family together. Duck out of conversations outlining how we should – should, what a limiting word – do life. And just when you think you might be getting it down just a little bit…
Enter COVID-19 pandemic. Ay, yay, yay. As if navigating the everyday isn’t challenging enough. Now the schedules of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 people come to a screeching halt and collide back on the homefront. It can be a tricky space to navigate. Just the logistics alone. Who is working at home now or not. When? Where? Are there phone and video calls and do we have enough quiet spaces for those? Do we have enough computers or desk space for that? Did someone or everyone lose or have their job put on hold? If so, how will the bills get paid? Because those are not going away with this virus. Who is homeschooling the kids? What does that look like? Do they need the computer for that? Who is buying groceries? Then, of course, there’s all of the emotions.
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” - Fred Rogers
There is a lot of uncertainty associated with this virus which can be emotionally draining but now we adults are losing our alone time, our gym time, our happy hours with friends. The time we would have used to work out our feelings or come up with solutions. And our children may not understand all the ins and outs of what is happening but they are in a major shift. And they can feel it’s big.
Will I get sick? Will my parents get sick? Grandparents? What does sick mean? Children are also big fans of routine and what is happening right now is definitely not routine. They are losing their independent time, their playtime, and their time spent with friends. The time they would have used to work out their feelings about what is going on. Then there’s our parents. Are they going out? Why?? They are NOT appreciating our telling them suddenly what to do, I do know that. The list of worries could go on forever I feel. And we as the adults can feel like it is our job to pick these worries and carry them until we are able to fix them. It’s a lot to bear. Too much in fact. Set it down. Take a breath. Take time. Give yourself space. And grace. We’ve never done this before. But we can do this now. All of us. We’re in it together.
“After all of this is over, all that will really matter is how we treated each other.” - Unknown