Pandemic Parenting Guilt

I have demons. The newest and loudest of the bunch is Pandemic Parenting Guilt. 

While I am not responsible for this global crisis, to my three-year-old Gus, I am the one who painfully says no to A LOT. I grieve all the friends he could be meeting and the memories he could be making. As a parent, this is hard. As a kid, this is hard. As a human, this. Is. Hard. 

The good news for Gus is that he isn’t carrying the weight of the world we grownups are. He is living in the moment and, luckily for him—our day to day is not so bad. As much as I have tried to get into a routine since his younger sister came along, unstructured playtime is our jam. He gets to call the shots. 

Gus: “Can I put on my fire suit and Skype Grandpa?”

Me: “Sure.”

Gus: “Can you read me the same book four times in a row?”

Me: “Sure.”

Gus: “Can I play with cars for the next three hours?”

Me: “SURE.” 

With two young kids and nowhere to be, creating and following a routine was exhausting and quite honestly, an impossible task for me. Once I let the expectations and self-judgement go, I was able to show up for my kids as my true self. In Untamed, Glennon Doyle unpacks the expectation that motherhood entails losing ourselves to serve our families. She writes that instead:“What we need is women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done.” 

Although our days are filled with crafts and dance parties, when our local and global communities are hurting, we are hurting too. As a mom, I’ve also thought it was my job to be the light and fake a smile when there isn’t much to be joyful about. It dawned on me, though, that my kids do not need a role model who doesn’t feel pain. What my kids need is an example of how to feel pain. 

I visualize conversations I may have with Gus when he’s older and a little bit wiser. 

They go something like this: 

Me: “I am sorry you couldn’t see any of your friends, or play with other kids at the park.”

Gus: “I had fun playing at home with my family.” 

Me: “I am sorry we had to stay home so much.”

Gus: “Our cuddles on the couch were perfect.”

Me: “I am sorry that I cried in front of you and sometimes lost my temper.”

Gus: “I learned that I am allowed to have big feelings.”

In this dark chapter of our beautiful story, Gus has not mastered reading or the piano—he has mastered naming his feelings, and communicating his needs by asking to play or by reaching out for a hug. 

Despite what my demons are telling me, there is value in learning how to just…be…

Thank you for reading.  

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