“In week eight of isolation in the stay-at-home advisory, I began to see a giant decline in my children’s mental health. My middle child began to isolate. When she did come out of her room, she was snarky and mean and tried picking fights with us. She seemed just overall angry.
My oldest child was suddenly gloomy and depressed. He started crying more, and he is not a crier. The friends he was gaming with for weeks were snapping at him more and ghosting him and he suddenly cared more than he normally would. His thick skin, which I was always happy he had, did not exist anymore.
School assignments I would classify as easy that we had been blowing through for weeks were suddenly overwhelming each day as we took on virtual school. Two of the kids missed two consecutive zoom meetings last week and I cannot even really even articulate why.
Life is slower than it has ever been, yet I am feeling more overwhelmed this week than ever. My emotional cup is full, in fact it is spilling over at times. And I have come to realize the hardest part is yet to come. In a few weeks I will return to work and the chance of summer camp is looking grim.
My husband’s job requires him to be on the phone most of the day, and even if he can work from home, it will be impossible for him to care for children at the same time. We may be forced to make decisions we are not comfortable with because of the demands placed on us by our jobs.
All the while we will be faced with harsh judgment from both sides of the argument on the validity of this illness and its effects. We will stress about exposure and stress about the logistics of needing to quarantine if we are exposed. We will need to decide if it is safe to visit our relatives, hug our friends, eat out at restaurants, get haircuts, and go to dental appointments.
We will be left to worry about a lack of herd immunity when we leave our faces covered all day. Left to constantly stress out about our four-year-old leaving a mask on in public. Anxious about following all the rules the grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers of any kind have put into place.
We will be left to awkwardly ask other parents if our kids can see their friends. Or needing to awkwardly turn down certain invites because it is beyond what we are comfortable with…and what will we be comfortable with?
Stress about having hand sanitizer in the car and hand soap at home…neither of which are still easily available at stores or online. Our ability to parent before this pandemic was hard and complicated.
Our ability to parent during this pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing has been hard and overwhelming and the ability to parent after all of this will be the biggest mountain we have climbed yet.
I am scared. I hear conflicting reports about what is safe and what is not. I am walking the fine line of sanity. I have one friend who is a total alarmist reminding me there is a chance we will not even go back to school in the fall.
I have another friend who is ready to burn her bra and is constantly sending me government conspiracy videos about the truth behind the pandemic. I am a rational person. I think rationally and am reasonable so much of the time, but right now my compass feels broken.
I feel so out of touch with reality and what I need and what is needed from me. I have been stripped of my life and my identity. The kids and my husband have also, and they are all looking to me for direction.
Our world was brought to a total halt and with it came some time to center and reflect. It gave us all a chance to persevere and come out of this stronger, but now we are reopening as a new world I am lost and confused about it all. I know I must just tread lightly.
Rational me says I just need to take one day at a time and make reasonable decision…yet nothing about any of this is reasonable or simple. Our biggest obstacles are still in front of us. I feel swallowed up hole by my fear, sadness, and confusion.
Everyone keeps saying the ‘new normal,’ but how will any of this ever be ‘normal?’ Most of the people in this country know nothing about this type of fearful living, me included. It makes me appreciate so many of the things I took for granted before this pandemic began. I want the old normal back.
I want to take my kids to the park, and take a walk, see my neighbors, and hug my grandmother. The hardest is in front of us even after all the struggles of being totally isolated for almost three months.
I want to say adapting to all the change that is coming will be easy. I want to say we will not just survive this. But through it all, we will endure with grace. And although nothing is promised, I can promise I will wake up each day and put one foot in front of the other in hopes of a brighter tomorrow.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Adrienne Anzelmo of Massachusetts. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories by Adrienne here:
’I am home fighting a battle. I am considered non-essential and furloughed from my job. The fear is real.’: Mom out of work during Coronavirus quarantine, ‘‘right now, I need to focus on things I am grateful for’
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