Hello, fellow parents!
Going into week — what is it now three? — three of being locked in a house with every single member of your family. How is everyone doing? Please comment below and tell me how you and your family have been handling everything. Not because I want to gain popularity, but because the possibility that I will descend into madness if I don’t get some adult interaction soon is very high.
So while you’re telling me your story, let me tell you mine.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about things I bitched about before this virus crippled the world, and then asking myself, “what the hell was wrong with you?” It’s funny how the tables have turned and how I would give my left foot to have things I wished away back now.
Like work, for example. I woke up every morning with one thought in mind — I wish I didn’t have to get up and go to work. Today? My first thought every morning is the exact opposite of that — I wish I could go to work today!
Or how about this one? I spent countless nights watching my daughter sleep soundly in her bed and thinking — I wish I had more time to spend with her. Today? Well, let’s just say I seriously underestimated how important school was for a parent’s mental health.
I’m not heartless. I love my kids, and I honestly enjoy the extra time I have to spend with my family. I think it’s hard right now because it’s not a normal time. As hard as this is for an adult, it’s ten times harder for a child. They thrive on routine, and that routine has been totally upended. The confusion and fear they are experiencing right now is being displayed in other, more defiant, ways, and that makes it even harder for parents during this pandemic.
Almost every single day has been a struggle, a fight of some sort with my six-year-old. She doesn’t understand why she cannot go visit Grammy or walk to the store with Mommy. She’s feeling frustrated because she had a couple of dollars, but she cannot go to the Dollar Store to spend it. Isolation is hard, and when you’re a child who has known the world to be one way, it’s even harder to understand why things are changing.
I feel bad, and I have tried to make it up to her in other ways. I’ve spent the past weeks bending over backwards to make this fun for her. We’ve done so many crafts I could open an Etsy store. We’ve baked more than Better Crocker. We’ve walked miles around the neighborhood. I’ve become a mermaid, a witch, a customer and various other make-believe characters.
This only goes so far. She can only get so much entertainment from Mommy and, although I try my hardest, I’m not an even substitute for the kids she has spent every weekday with for the last two years.
The novelty has worn off. It was fun at first, but now we are itching to get back to our “old life”.
It was nice waking up in the morning without having to jump right out of bed. She crawled into bed beside me and we snuggled to cartoons for half the day. It was amazing. How many times I had wished for that exactly!
It was fun playing teacher. We set up a school in our living room and she demanded to call me “Miss Lucy”. I’m not sure why, but I was told I had to wear high-heels while I was being the teacher. Which made me wonder what kind of school I have been sending my daughter too …
It was nice being able to waste the day with her. We played outside and created worlds from our imagination. We found exciting ways to entertain ourselves. She happily accepted that I was the only playmate she had for the day and we made it work.
Now that the initial excitement has worn off, she is seeing the flaws in the new system. It’s become harder to get her to stay focused on the school work she is supposed to be doing each day. I don’t have the structure and tools available that school had. Miss Lucy is tapped out!
What has all of this taught me? It has taught me that people need time apart. It’s how you grow as a person. You need to have new experiences with new people. You need to have a diverse schedule to keep your mind occupied and thriving. You cannot throw three people into a house for three weeks and tell them they cannot have contact with anyone else without negative effects. NO matter how much you love someone, you need other social outlets in your life. You have to have time apart before you can truly enjoy the time you spend together.