Tuesday, August 18, 2020

About Your Corona Parent Friend

I had a child during the early stages of COVID-19 and am slowly adjusting to life with a bigger family. I quickly found that many of my go to activities and what I envisioned my Spring and Summer to be had evaporated. As I write this blog, cooler temperatures after some much needed rain are reminding me that Summer is just about finished.

Other parents and families may have adjusted to the same demands and new demands seamlessly, but my home life and my Mama life have shifted towards something different. I made the list below to be honest about my experience and also give those that have asked a brief window into a slightly different walk of life.

1. Things take turns being okay. 

Rooms take turns being clean and organized. Chores take turns being finished. Email chains take turns about being read through. If there are siblings or pets in the home, attention is divided and family members take turns getting attention.

 The living room might be immaculate, but the kitchen has dishes piling up, a trash can that is fun to the brim, and recycling is overflowing because we are still trying to save the planet with our small choices. Parenting in my home means that the planet will have to wait its turn to be saved. 

This might also mean that my home is ready for the very few visitors we are recommended to have, but my bedroom has piles of clean clothing that has not been folded and put "where it lives."

Taking turns also means that sometimes I am two weeks early to contribute to a Corona birthday present, but I can also be months behind another emotional labor endeavor. It happens. It is the wheel, or more accurately the expanding spiral of the mama or parent career.

2. Kid milestones happened and no one was here.

Speaking of the expanding spiral of the mom career, my small child came into this world quite alarmed and now adjusted so much that he is now trying to stand, walk, eat solids, sing, talk, and play--just like a big baby. His needs and interests have expanded to never ever again be that sleeping baby burrito. 

And almost no one was here. There were very few visitors that got to interact with my baby burrito. And while I know the interaction only gets better and better with age, I feel bad that those around me that have wished for a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby did not get to enjoy this version of my baby. Learning to cry, learning to sleep, first funny faces, first intense eye contact, first smile, first giggle, first surprise, first raspberries, first baby crunch, first standing attempt, and first interaction with siblings were only witnessed by my immediate household.  

This all means that I, like your Corona parent friend, had to work extra hard to document the milestones that are otherwise shared with family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.

I strongly believe that even adults and teenagers have microseasons of their lives where they might try a new hobby, routine, or lifestyle. Learning new lifelong skills is an especially ongoing process with younger kids and all it takes is a few blinks and a stage is gone.

3. Your Corona parent friend wants to know how you're doing

Your Corona parent friend is rooting for you from afar. Are you learning bread baking from scratch? Did you buy a ball gown to wear inside your home? Did you get a new beard oil you're in love with? Was that COVID-19 social distancing date full of amazing chemistry? We want to hear about it. 

Also, we would love to have a zoom call with you where WE. DO. NOT. TALK. ABOUT. KIDS. AT. ALL. After 20 diaper changes or trips to the potty-- I want to clock out from wearing my mom hat (joking--like that happens) and would prefer ANY OTHER TOPIC! Are you passionate about the history of dental floss? Did you try something new in a videogame? Please share!

Most parents know that relationships are harder to keep up when you have kids. COVID-19 added an extra layer of complexity. It's another layer of exhaustion and unmet needs. I cannot have several skype or zoom calls in a row. Or it might be that I am super tired and cannot be there 100% if I am tired, but was otherwise available from a logistical point of view. 

It is this exhaustion that fuels a feeling of mild social isolation.

4. Your Corona parent friend has less references to pull from.

There are many resources online and offline, but the majority of resources circulating-- and these circulate for good reason, they're awesome-- were developed without a  pandemic in mind. Many solid articles include interacting with others without social distancing and visiting heavy traffic areas.

 As a result, parents are adjusting most answers they find to their current comfort level regarding venturing out into the world and requirements issued by public and private places. 

5. Children are missing social experiences.

Having loved playgrounds when I was a preschooler, I couldn't wait to take my toddler to a playground. He was super young and could not climb the steps very well, but he loved the slides. He then grew to enjoy other playground activities with newfound physical agility. His interest then expanded into parallel, followed by mild interactive play. 

I took all of this for granted, and now we don't go anywhere. Although we are starting to form social distancing pods, this is a new development due to medical reasons. My eldest child who loves to use his imagination and play with others is missing weekends full of interactive play and games that teach cooperation, taking turns, and eventually sharing.

We have not had a playdate in 6 months, and while we may be an extreme case, I do not believe that we are unique. 

I am not sure if I have the stamina for the rigorous social calendar that my toddler used to have before this Spring. I am out of practice and now have to adjust to new social distancing and different policies about shares spaces like playgrounds. Venturing out to fun places is less fun for parents.

Likewise, your Corona parent friend may be in a similar boat and is adjusting to the COVID-19 world after trying to wait it out completely. It is stressful to leave the house, but waiting years for a reliable vaccine seems inconceivable.   

6. Standards have gone down.

Everyone's world is different, but as a general trend, the quality of life for your Corona parent friend has gone down. It might be because of a lack of babysitters, or remote learning for a school age child, or it might be just the toll on mental health. In any case, standards have slipped. And while that is sad, chances are that your friend couldn't care less. 

Right in line with the first point of things taking turns being okay, things are also taking turns being less okay. 

It might seem that I and others around me have changed our personalities based on how we act or live our lives. So, I wanted to remind everyone that responding to stress is not a personality.

I am now less detail oriented. I am now less inclined to start conversations because I'm saving my strength for middle of the night wake ups, night terrors, and nightmares. I am now less likely to try new or challenging things. I do not have room for my full personality right now. 

7. We see you trying to connect with us and live your best life with us in it.

 Your Corona parent friend had plans for the future that are now on a definite hold. Whether big like a vacation overseas or small like organizing a low key birthday party, all plans are on hold. And it is often friends with more bandwidth and creativity who offer a silver lining in the shape of alternatives.

We see you gauging interest and availability. We see you planning. We see you organizing virtual events. We see you producing videos or podcasts. We see you hosting drive by events, social distanced events, separate, but together events. 

We see you and we are trying our hardest at setting aside time and being more present and less tired.


 


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