THE HARDEST PARTS OF PARENTING JUST GOT HARDER: WE CAN DO THIS.

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The Coronavirus protocol and social distancing magnifies my parenting insecurities and frankly, I’m not doing well. 

Instead of small challenges I balance each day, these feelings of failure and questions are blown up and boldly displayed like an old school overhead projector where no one is adjusting the dial. It’s all too big and too much. The things I most worry about are larger than life and in my face and unbelievably real.

How will I protect my children?

I love them so damn much. What if I just can’t protect them? What if the mast cell disease our three-year old has puts him in the high-risk category? He could need a ventilator and won’t be able to get one. I don’t know for sure he is high-risk and I don’t know how to find out. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if I do know. I’m terrified for him. For all of my boys. For all of us. 

Do I have a plan for dinner? 

Not just for today, but for the next four weeks? I meal plan. I know who likes what and what the older boys can help make.

Meals right now seem so much harder. 

We aren’t getting together with friends to share the dinner making burden and we can’t just stop off on the way home from work and grab something to eat before heading to practice. I know we’re supposed to support small businesses with carry-out but is that safe? Also, I don’t feel comfortable just running out to get something I forgot at the store. What is the sweet spot of eating the salad before it goes bad or saving it so we aren’t just eating processed foods? After all, I’m waiting to time my grocery store trip for when I really need a lot of things.

Are my kids good? Do they behave? Have I taught them right from wrong?

I haven’t been able to go longer than a couple hours without losing my crap given our current circumstances. How can I possibly expect my kids to do what I tell them, not throw fits, and be kind to each other all day, every day, until….some unknown end date? 

Just be good always, please. Ha! It’s just not sustainable.

In real life, I know that after school my kindergartner needs a behavior break. He’s been good all day and he’s going to be a bit unruly. What’s a realistic expectation and consequence for him now? I need to figure it out because this is my new real life.

How should I balance fun time, learning, and work time in the next day, week, or month?

This is one of my toughest struggles anyway and now, it feels overwhelming. Are they learning? Is there too much screen time? Have we been active? How much of a routine do we need to have? Let’s just chill because…hello! It’s a pandemic not life-as-usual. This tangle of life looms so large.

I think I will be sorry if I don’t at least try to see this time as a gift. When again will I ever get uninterrupted time at home with my kids like this? If I use it to sort closets, am I an idiot? I should be loving them, playing with them and being present. So… bring on the mom-guilt, it’s right here, big and bold.

four boys hopping in the air from yoga mats
Trying family yoga…this is the frog hopping “pose.” They loved it.

Who should I trust to give me advice? 

I don’t know which sources are fake news and I don’t have time to look it up. What’s the best thing to do? Draw photos for nursing homes or not? Maybe our envelope spit is going to pass on the virus to the very people we are trying to cheer up. 

What kind of example am I? 

I believe in charity and giving back, but I’m not doing any of that. When Mr. Rogers says to look for the helpers, people aren’t seeing me. Am I a crap example to my kids? Some day they may look back and think: my parents just hid from the world and sheltered in place and did nothing to actively save others.

Am I being a supportive partner?

My husband is working from home. We’ve set up a great office for him in our son’s room. I try not to yell too loudly when I know he’s hosting a meeting. 

We’ve shifted from scheduling conversations to coronavirus updates surprisingly well. We laugh about our favorite coronavirus memes. We laugh out loud, because there’s not much to laugh about right now and it feels so good to laugh.

But I miss being easy with him. I miss wanting to be intimate not out of some kind of scared desperation, but because I’m relaxed and turned on by his sexy smile. 

Am I maintaining good friendships?

I’m trying to figure out which of my boys’ friends can offer virtual play dates that don’t involve shooting video games without offending anyone. Requesting one of my boys’ friends to join Facebook’s kids messenger seems like a dark hole we’ll never get out of “after.” How do I teach my kids to stay in touch with their friends and family when I haven’t figured out how to navigate that?

In my spare time I’m going to figure out how to have a Zoom girls night out. *sigh* I miss them. So freaking much. I miss my friends and it’s only been 6 days. Which makes me wonder how my boys feel.

Ladies lunch with my best girls at Me & Billy’s in Davenport, IA pre-pandemic.

What’s my work/life balance like?

I have four kids and a part-time job in higher ed marketing. I work from home. It’s not that different a challenge than our pre-pandemic lives, except my kids are around instead of at school and daycare/Grandma’s once in a while. I struggle finding the time to get my work done and be a mom regularly. Working late at night still seems to be the best option, so I’m still doing that. It’s not like I’m sleeping well anyway.

How’s my self care going?

Give me a freaking break.

It’s so much and it’s overwhelming. I don’t know what to do.

All these things tumble around in my over-active, type A, over-planning, anxious, scared, overwhelmed head and I don’t know what to do. I don’t actually feel that way very often. I usually have a plan or a plan to get a plan.

That’s when I realize, I do know what to do.

Breathe. 

In and Out. Once. Twice. 

Find one thing that brings peace and helps to regain balance. 

It’s like when a juggler drops #allthethings and stops to reset. I’ll start (figuratively) with setting my feet. I’ll take that moment to just pause…the intake before it all begins again.

For me, this has been listening to Yo-Yo Ma play the cello. I never expected to hear him play for me, but he is and it’s free. It’s just long enough for me to reset.

I’ll do the best I can with what I know. When I know better, I’ll do better.

I am doing the best I can. I will try to offer grace. I will work towards patience. I will forgive myself. I will not be perfect. But I will love. Deeply and fiercely with all my soul. I will do the best I can. And that will be good enough. 

We can do this.

 

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Meghan Cooley
A committed member of the boymom club, Meghan has five active, adventurous, crazy sweet men in her life she often calls her “favorite boys”. Charles is 10, Oliver is 8, Bennett is 5, Simon is 3 and her husband, Luke is a fun, patient, loving father to all these crazy characters. For 18 years, Meghan worked in higher education at a private college in recruitment, marketing, and social media. Now, working from home, she balances four boys, a great husband, freelance writing and social media consulting. Meghan grew up in St. Charles, IL (a western Chicago suburb), attended Augustana College, and is a true Quad City transplant - she loves living in this area! She likes to read, sing, plan adventures, travel and just be with her favorite boys.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much for writing this! You post helped me to feel a little better knowing that some of my fears are also other mom’s fears.

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