This school year has been a rough one for my three teen girls. Don’t get me wrong, school-from-home has its benefits (constant snack-grabbing, infrequent showers and rolling out of bed 5 minutes before the first class starts are at the top of their pro-column).
But what about all the things they have been missing out on? The important and less-important things? Things like gossiping and trying new hairstyles and learning about themselves in relation to others. Maybe even learning about and getting to know boys. Or girls. You know what I mean — the feely-feels, daydreaming, get-your-little-heart-a-teensy-bit-broken-getting-to-know-someone.
Or what about negotiating new friendships, breaking up with old friends, trips to the mall, and trying a new hobby, sport or (lets be honest) lipgloss?
The pandemic has definitely limited my three teen daughters’ experiences — which are what we all need in order to grow and mature. It’s hard to watch them living groundhog day (my all-time least favorite movie) at a time when they would normally be experiencing so many new things.
If you’re a parent, I know you can relate to feeling angst for your kids in one form or another, no matter what age or stage your child is going through.
It’s tough, y’all.
Because I’m an over-thinker, over-analyzer sort, you know I’ve been a-thinkin’ and over-analyzin’ over here a-plenty.
Mostly about myself. I know that sounds selfish, but some of my old demons (aka insecurities) have resurfaced lately.
Am I doing enough?
Are my girls going to carry scars from this experience?… that I could have prevented?
Have I added to their burden?
Have I done too much?
These are just some of the questions that reverberate in my brain on an almost daily basis. Which is why it can be maddeningly confusing when those thoughts are quickly followed by:
Please god, grant me patience.
These hormones are killing me. All of the hormones. Mine. Theirs. All. Of. The. Hormones.
For the love of all that is good, can you please pick up your trash — did you grow up in a barn?
Go do your homework. If you get less than 80’s this six-weeks you’ll lose all of your devices. ALL. OF. THEM.
So, you see, the self-recrimination and self-doubt is balanced with less-than-stellar parenting moments.
It’s all about balance, right?
Suffice it to say, all of this chaos leaves me feeling less-than-great about my pandemic-parenting. Not every day. Not all the time. But it definitely has me questioning myself — and my sanity — regularly.
Speaking with other parents, I know you can relate. At least a little bit.
And if you can’t relate, I applaud you — you are better than me. Sincerely.
This whole pandemic-parenting fiasco we find ourselves in has really triggered a lot of my demons. (Yours too, probably).
Which is normal, really, when you consider that pressure of any kind tends to shine a spotlight on any places where we have weakness. Kinda like an elephant sitting on a wicker chair — it might have seemed super-sturdy for sitting on while enjoying tea and reading your favorite blog <hint hint>, but an immense and unexpected amount of weight will quickly let you know if the legs are sturdy enough to withstand unusual pressure.
If you’re like many parents, you might have felt the legs of your chair buckling under the pressure of this pandemic.
People are struggling with their mental health in ways and rates that are staggering.
Reports of Intimate Partner Violence are surging.
I know the legs of my chair have been a bit wobbly, too. Unhealthy eating. Drinking more margaritas. Being snappy. Being withdrawn. Wanting to control every. single. thing. Feeling powerless.
The pressures of parenting during these unusual times are definitely showing us where the cracks are — the unhealed traumas, the unreleased pain, the insecurities and fears.
And when we are scared and afraid, we tend to grab onto things that for dear life — like a life-jacket when the seas are rough.
But sometimes the things that ‘ feel true ‘ are just old, dysfunctional coping strategies.
Sometimes the things that ‘ feel true ‘ are driven by our fear and panic and overwhelm.
And sometimes, sometimes, what ‘feels true’ is something really deep inside that reminds us that today and every day, we are doing the very best we can. And that is the feeling I grab onto with both hands and hold close to my chest.
Because the truth of that is just as true as anything else — and it’s the truth I choose today: I am doing the best I can.
<I really know you are, too.>
The legs of my chair might be wobbly, but I know how to stabilize it to keep it — and myself — from crashing to the ground. And if I’m not able to do that, I’ll seek professional help (no shame in that).
In the meantime, here’s some of the things I do daily:
>> Take a nervous-system-relaxing breath. Or twenty.
>> Take a walk.
>> Talk to and with my girls. I’ve learned to try to be a better listener, too.
>> Ask the hard questions, give the hard answers, and watch the silly shows and laugh… together.
>> Let them see me feeling all the feels… and then let them see me get my s**T together again.
>> Give grace when they are feeling their feels. Even when they are not handling it like I think they ‘should.’ Maybe especially then.
And, of course, make sure they pick up their trash. We don’t live in a barn, y’know!
How are you coping as a parent during this pandemic?
And if you’re doing better (or worse) than me, I want to know that, too — perhaps you could share your tips, tricks and insights.
We’re all on this crazy ride together so we might as well make it fun.
In the meantime, take care of you. Because you’re worth it — and so are our kids.