The word came down that school would be out for a month.
I felt this deep pit in my stomach. “What the crap am I going to do with these kids for a month?! I had flashbacks to my PPD days where I was sorely unequipped to handle two kids and maintain any semblance of sanity. I first went into homeschool-mom-mode:
Here’s a schedule! And worksheets! And activities! Enjoy!
That worked for about 2 days. The kids were miserable, and so was I.
Every day, we’re going to get outside and take walks and play in the back yard!
Uh, we live in Iowa.
My crazy cycle of trying to keep my kids on track and hold us all to the impossible standard of coming out of this season of social distancing unscathed was making our home somewhat of a nightmare. I was struggling to balance work, the kids whose lives were completely upended overnight, and an essential-worker husband who did what he could do to keep the place from burning to the ground.
So, I quit.
This was an imaginary parenting contest I was not going to win. What will my kids remember about this season of their lives? Will it be the robust educational experience (read: mom and Big fighting over how to do a worksheet and unsuccessfully keeping Little off the ceiling) or perfectly structured day with 400 activities? Would it be the hard and fast no screens rule that kept their brains from turning to mush? Trying to achieve those things made me an irritable, edgy mess and a crap mom. So, that’s a hard no.
Instead, I asked myself, what did I want my kids to remember about this?
After all, they’re living history right now and this certainly counts as somewhat of an adverse childhood experience even though we are drowning in privilege over here with our ability to keep our jobs and our health. I shifted my mindset from mitigating the effects of this full stop on their little lives to enjoying this uninterrupted time with them.
They’ve taught grandma how to face time, and Big is learning to ride her bike. We’re watching Frozen with Little for the second time today as I write this. We’ve played outside, made forts, and laughed as much as we’ve driven each other nuts. I get to look my kids in the face and marvel at them rather than my usual thought of “when will you go to sleep?” I’ve spent time coloring in my old Lisa Frank coloring book with them and having real conversations with each child. I guarantee, none of that was happening when I was trying to be someone else’s mom.
Is trying to work while keeping people alive ridiculously hard and exhausting?
Do I sometimes envy my husband when he gets to leave the house?
Do I enjoy the heck out of not having to wear real pants or a bra for days on end?
But I’m realizing that, in the midst of something very hard, I am enjoying the heck out of it.
I am enjoying my kids in a way I never have before and counting all the blessings.
So, if you’re a mama who feels like she can’t keep up with the demands (real or imaginary) of parenting during this season, you’re not alone. For me, the next right thing was to stop and smell the roses (if I can manage to actually grow them).
Press on, friends 🙂
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