“I don’t know what the hardest part of social distancing and isolation really is for me. It changes by the moment but one of them is that with children, the ‘isolation’ or ‘distancing’ part is… well… not distant or isolated.
Yet… also distant and isolated. With the kids.
Related out and isolated.
These are such weird times.
We enjoy our kids. It isn’t that we don’t recognize our privilege in even having our children, let alone in having our health and being home together to protect each other and our society.
Last night, I went out and sat on the steps to the house after the younger kids were in bed. 10 minutes alone on the steps were the most ‘distant’ I actually was from anyone in the last 8 days. We may be isolated but I’m never alone. I’m waking at 6 a.m. with a toddler and going to bed around midnight, every second of my day filled with caring for my children and our home (with them and with my partner) or trying to work (also with them and with my partner).
Just like when they’re tiny and can’t stand to lose you even long enough to go pee, this time of social distancing is hard on children of all ages (yes, even teens). When things are hard, they draw closer to the people who make them feel secure.
It’s an honor and something I love to do.
It is also draining.
When my now 2-year-old was 7 months old, she would freak out when I left the room to go pee so I would just take her with me. Yes, I sat her on the floor in front of the toilet and made silly faces at her while I did my business. Sometimes I held her on my lap but that wasn’t always the best option so gross bathroom floor it was!
This is why parents are so darn tired. And why it is even harder with social distancing. Parenting is exhausting. Not only because of how busy you get managing and caring for another human being who pretty much can’t do anything for themselves but in my experience, much of the exhaustion comes from the ongoing relating that comes with having children and continues long after they can wipe their own butts and even stop accompanying you when you have to wipe your own.
Sure, the workload, the stress, the night waking’s all play into fatigue for parents but more than all of that is the constant awareness, conversations, and thoughts required in the relating with our children. Even when they are infants. Even when they are teens.
It never stops. Let’s suppose they’ve gone to bed and are asleep and you have 2 seconds to have a thought of your own. Chances are strong that, in that time, I’m thinking about how I’m relating to my children. Was I too distracted earlier? Should I play more? What can I play with them? Did she pick up on my impatience? My boredom? My frustration that I couldn’t even go pee in peace? And so, on and on and on and on.
The physical and mental workload of parenting is demanding. Shoot, if most stay-at-home parents were paid according to the jobs, they do they’d be earning a solidly high 6-figure income. Set all that aside though and the relating alone takes a huge chunk of their energy.
Particularly when you’re relating with someone who is developmentally unable to express themselves articulately or calmly and is reduced to tears because you dared to sit on the toilet without them or gave them the wrong color cup.
I wouldn’t trade it for the world, of course, but I’m not going to lie, I look forward to the day when I don’t totally crush someone’s spirit because I want to pass on having an audience for my bathroom visits. And it’s okay that I look forward to those moments.
We’re all going to get through this, one day at a time and together. Let’s not sugarcoat it and pretend like everything is fine though. It’s not fine. We can be lonely and bored and frustrated and overwhelmed and anxious AND constantly surrounded by people and grateful and together and safe and connected.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Martin-Weber of The Leaky Boob. Follow The Leaky Boob on Instagram here. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.
Read more stories from Jessica here:
‘She came to us asking why she felt so much anger. Jeremy gave her a hammer. The slightest thing sets her off, boiling just under the surface.’: Daughter ‘relieved to know she wasn’t alone’ after parents help her to ‘release anger safely’
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