Mother's Day During Covid-19
My kids are literally climbing the walls at this point in the quarantine. If the door frames were taller an I didn't fear breaking a limb that would then take me into a healthcare establishment, I would join them. It actually looks fun.
I put up a post this week on Facebook showing a lot of the happy times we have had during quarantine. It's my way of reflecting, to go through pictures, especially when they are mostly ones with smiles (real and forced). One of my friends commented, "Looks like a non stop party, I bet you are exhausted." Wow. The way this statement spoke to me.
In truth, my pictures do look like a non stop party. I am trying my absolute best to help every one of my kids not feel trauma from this time. It is a real possibility and it is the thing that keeps me up the most at night. It is an exhausting reality to shoulder.
The days start early and wide open. If I want to get my sanity devotional and run in, it has to be before the homeschooling starts. And it has become less "sane" as I have used my running time to multitask listening to work Covid meetings. Entering the door, I'm peeling the kids off You-Tube to come eat a decent breakfast before "school" starts. This, while my ear bud is still in and the meeting is finishing and while I am internally struggling with why they cannot listen to my repeated requests to not get on the screen before school work is done. Oh well, we are in a pandemic...
The morning progresses - the middle child uses the baby child's hairbrush to brush the dog, the teen wakes up in a "mood" and refuses the breakfast I really didn't have time to make. The zoom meetings, passwords and "homeschool routine" seem to be more automatic now, except when anything new is added in - like a phases of the moon project for my middle who has not proven to be an auditory learner...he's also riding the dog through the house - like, right now. We managed to make the phases of the moon with cookie dough and he promptly ate them in front of his class. I have no idea how much sugar my kids are consuming right now and I frankly can't care.
The days progress much like the described morning on the days I am home. When I am at work, the days progress a little differently. My phone sitting beside my desk vibrating with each email/google classroom notification/zoom invite for a music lesson/text, my colleagues tell me my phone is stressing them out. Truth - I haven't added my spectacular nanny and husband to the emails from the teachers yet - because I truly have not had the time - maybe I should do that right now. Hold on...ok, I did it.
Getting home from work is hard. I de-clothe in the garage and put all of my Covid wear straight into the washing machine and head for the shower. On the good days, I then go on a walk with the kids, our nanny and Max - with, I am not even gonna lie, a tumbler of white wine. Most days, I meet whatever the pressing present need - dinner, 7 year old meltdown spurred on by missing friends, teen 'tude when asked to wrap up screen time, urgent work phone call, cat poop laying outside the litter box, skinned knee from long board riding...you mamas understand what I am talking about here.
Treasured family dinners around the table followed by family TV series and movies with popcorn and chocolate then follow as we wind down another day in quarantine. We talk about the best parts of the day, play a family mealtime game and take turns saying the prayer.
The range of emotions goes from sheer exhaustion to stubborn resilience with every level of hard and gratitude in between. Mom guilt is in full effect. Any spare moment I have is spent trying to check in with each of my three kids while fighting my internal heart cry for some space alone to process it all. Even sitting here writing means I am not playing dolls with my littlest - when playing with those dolls has proven to be the most telling window into her emotional well being.
We go out to a ball field for socially distanced practice and my teen voices concern over the number of people and I turn on my calm "nurse mode" voice. We go to the nearby nursery to pick up a plant and my daughter has to don a mask to go look at the baby goats and ducks - again, my calm "nurse mode" voice responds. We go bike riding with friends and my 10 year old says, "Remember, we have to socially distance." I softly reply, "Let's enjoy the time with our friends and not think about socially distancing, we are on bikes and don't have to worry about it." The emotional taking in and turning it around positively for each of these above scenarios and every one in between has proven exhausting. The emotional part of this for a mom is harder than the physical, the mental, the spiritual. My emotional mama radar is in high alert mode all the time.
The mother's day is really weird. What do I really want? I want to help my children feel free, to see them laugh and play without fear. I want to be all that they need me to be so when they do look back on this time, they remember the "non-stop party" and not the mask wearing baby goat trips. I want my teen to have back his middle school baseball experience that was going to be so good for his confidence. I want to be on the ball field. And I want my kids to be there instead of fighting me hard for more screen time, friend time that I can't give them or more junky snacks from the pantry.
Every day is a battleground of emotions without a pandemic. My teen did not stop puberty to endure the stay at home order. My 10 year old did not miss out on the leverage of social isolation to lobby for more screen time. My 7 year old still expresses herself in tantrums at times. Some days they rock it out and realize their parents are working harder than ever and offer to help. Other days...they forget about Covid (and manners) and complain about the prepared food on the table and refuse to eat it.
You want to know how I am getting through mothering in this pandemic? All of you other mamas out there. Hands down. I love my mama friends right now. The beauty of the connection of one woman to another has truly sustained me. And I know that is what will continue to. Whether is has been a text of solidarity in the form of a crazy silly meme, a virtual cheers while we are like-mad-making-dinner, asking me what you can pick up at the grocery store or local produce stand, a duo/Facetime/Zoom call, a shared devotional of encouragement, an off the cuff fervent spoken prayer or those treasured real physical meet ups on the American Tobacco Trail for walking or running...
Mothers understand the deep deep love we have for our children that goes beyond ourselves and often leaves us empty...until that next moment of pride we see when our children flourish. Mothers are strong. So strong. And so are women in general. We will do this together and will keep supporting each other. We will pick one another up when we fall down. We will keep cheer leading, loving, empathizing, praying for each other.
I have never claimed to be a feminist but I truly treasure the uniqueness of being a woman. The ability to connect emotionally with my female friends during this pandemic has been a priceless gift. God certainly made us different than men and we do complement one another. But in times of stress and deep emotional turmoil, God has given us each other to connect differently than we might with our husbands and male friends (not at all saying we could do this without them!). So, this Mother's Day, I tip my mama hat to all of you other mama's out there, fighting the good pandemic fight.
We've got this. Together. Virtual hugs and cheers. And real prayers.