Postpartum Realness: Parenting During COVID
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
All at once the world changed. Mid March, my family was finally recovered from what felt like an eternity of one sickness after another and were finally ready to go out and conquer the world. Needless to say, the following week none of that became possible. So many aspects of life changed due to COVID-19 in our family: job loss, career redirection, parenting and working from home, and sheltering in place with a baby and a toddler. While I won't get into the details of the unique hardships my family has faced, I do find solace in knowing we are not alone.
I often wonder who has it the "hardest": Is it the school-aged kids' parents who are working double duty while trying to keep up with their children's regular curriculum? Is it the toddler parents who are dealing with the rambunctious and defiant stage while unable to provide the social and physical outlets their young ones are craving? Is it the parents of babies who are more than ready to not only show of their sweet new additions but also have the help they envisioned from friends and family? Or perhaps the pregnant or newly postpartum families who are grieving the loss of the pregnancy, baby showers, labor and deliveries they planned for and are now struggling to make it all work with a new baby in tow? All of these create unique hardships and more than likely, one is not unilaterally harder than the next. But one thing I know for sure is:
PARENTING DURING A PANDEMIC FEELS IMPOSSIBLE.
None of us had time or space or literature or direction on how to tackle this and were smacked in the face with the difficulties of rearranging our plans and day-to-day lives. Daycares and schools shut down while work did not. Many lost jobs but continued to have mortgages and other bills to pay. Not to mention meals needing to get on the table, bedtime stories to be read, laundry to fold, and tough conversations to be had around "Why did everything change?". If parenting wasn't already hard enough, 2020 has made sure that we would all be tested to our limits.
While in the early weeks of this health crisis many of us felt scared, helpless, isolated and carried a healthy dose of paranoia around if or when this virus would hit close to home. I won't pretend that I didn't cry alongside my frustrated children on a regular basis or that I didn't make myself a "mommy space" on the floor of my master closet for those moments only a mother of a 3 year old and 9-month old trapped in a house would understand.
Us moms have been used to carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders but this has been next level emotional bodybuilding.
The thing with bodybuilding though (as I understand it, because let's be honest....) is that it is tough before it gets easier. You can't expect to pick up the heaviest weight and sling it around until you've conditioned yourself. The training is hard, and we've had no choice, but boy are our mommy muscles growing in this process. But weights are never light, are they? I bet I won't find a mother in this world who hasn't discovered Superpowers she didn't know she had or flexed muscles she didn't think she'd grown. If you're around to read this blog and your children are too, YOU'RE DOING IT, MAMA. I like to think of this time as a refining process, as a friend reminded me recently. We are being broken down to the fundamentals only to discover that's what it's all about. We don't need fancy meals or schedules or toys or outings to show our love and grow well-adapted humans. They need consistency. Protection. Nurture. They need US. And like it or not, this is probably the most time we've been afforded in a long time to spend real quality time with our mini humans. (No, it's not under the perfect circumstances, but if you happen upon a perfect circumstance EVER in this parenting journey, call me up and let me know!) What a blessing in disguise this time is for us to spend extra time to discover the wonders of our children, our families, our partners, our SELVES.
So I encourage you, mama, to redefine this time for yourself and take back its power. Let yourself feel all of the difficulties that come along with this challenging time in our history. But also revel in its unique opportunities afforded to us each day. I won't tell you how to do that because only you know best what those opportunities look like for your family. It may be as simple as extra time to sit with the ones you love the most. Cherish this time. Reframe this chapter. Make memories you're sure never to forget. Remember: You are put in this moment in time for a reason and your children will look to you in awe for overcoming it all one day. What is your reason? What are your Superpowers? Make this a time you look back on as the time you flexed those parenting muscles in the hardest of times and became stronger for it. And you are so strong.
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