This Mother’s Day, it’s easy to see what the pandemic has taken. It’s harder to spot the gift it offers, because we have to cut through the exhaustion, the tantrums, the sibling battles and the homeschooling to receive it.
Parents with grown children tell those with little ones there is never enough of it. Blink and they’re grown. The relentless intrusions into your bed, your quiet time, your bathroom trips are over sooner than you think. One day the children will be gone.
And many of them were, until the pandemic suddenly brought them home again.
“We get to have them in a way that probably we’re never going to have them again in our lives,” said Nancy Colier, a psychotherapist and interfaith minister. “There’s something incredible about the fact that they can’t go anywhere. They are here. And so are we.”
The pandemic has created parental suffering, and not distributed it equally. Parents of young children, single moms, moms of color, moms who are not safe in their homes, who lack space, who’ve lost paychecks, front line moms – their hardships eclipse most any silver lining.
But for many mothers privileged enough to be free from harm at home with their children, the pandemic provides a chance to witness milestones that would otherwise have been missed. To be close and present in ways impossible when everyone is in motion. To heal and reconnect with older children we’ve reluctantly and necessarily let go their own way.
In the midst of suffering, there is opportunity.
“There’s no doubting how difficult it is to be asked to be their teachers, their friends, their parents and everything else, to play all the roles the village is supposed to play,” Colier said. “But if we’re fully in this moment now … then there is an opportunity to use this time to be present with our children.”
Long days, simple joys
Mothers with young children may find it especially difficult to spot the blessing. The littlest among us can’t comprehend this new world, their parents’ grief or what’s expected of them so that we may endure it.
Working moms hear the babies crying, the toddlers melting down, the preschoolers begging for attention. Stay-at-home moms have no play dates to look forward to, no parks in which to exhale, no errands to run to escape the home-bound anarchy.
Jerusha Basinger is home with her 21-month-old daughter and 4-year-old son. She recently accepted a full-time sales position set to begin at the end of March, but the pandemic delayed her start date. Being cooped up with two toddlers, she said, is chaos.
There’s the flour they stealthily opened to use for “snow.” The paint that perpetually coats walls and floors rather than paper and canvas. Most frustrating for Basinger is the constant unraveling of toilet paper she spent hours tracking down.
And yet, she’s grateful for this time. Her kids are strengthening their sibling bond. More focused time with her and her husband, who is working from home, has produced a marked change in the children’s vocabularies. They cook together as a family and take frequent walks on nearby trails. The pleasures are simple.
“Our lives were too hectic before, always trying to fit in every single social event and activity,” Basinger said. “I’m less stressed about being somewhere on time five times per day, and my time with them feels more genuine and natural. I’m more focused on the moment, just being with them, and seeing where the day takes us.”
Rebecca Dethman is program director for a practical nursing program in Denver and has been working from home since March with her 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. She said this time with her children has helped her get to know them more intimately – what they like, what they don’t, where they need her most.
“Usually we task everything out. We task out education, we task out some of their social interaction. This time has allowed me to get to know my kids a little better,” she said. “I learned my daughter loves little tiny things. She’s delighted by Polly Pockets. I never knew.”
Source: USA Today
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