I recently wrote about how I was starting to believe I may be a strong solo mom. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Now that we are into week two of this new reality of social distancing, working from home and trying to ‘homeschool’ I’m finding myself wondering how strong I really am.
As I find myself in the swing of life with a 4 year old and 7 year old at home, while under stay at home orders and a full time job to manage, I keep thinking of how strong I really need to be right now. And I’m not quite sure how strong I’m feeling right now.
Last week I was fortunate to still be able to send my 4 year old to daycare. As conflicted as I was about sending her in, I needed all the time I could to figure out how I was going manage having them both at home for potentially many weeks ahead. I needed to prepare for doing this all on my own. And while I had great plans to be super organized, and have a schedule and do it all, that doesn’t seem to be the reality now that it is upon us.
You see, my 7 year old has only done maybe an hour or two of real school work in the last week. Honestly. The house is a complete disaster. Our TV may just burn out from being on all damn day. My nerves are already starting to wear out from playing referee for the sibling smack downs that seem to happen by the hour. And just last night I had to ask my son when the last time it was he took a bath. His response as he looked at me wearing the same pajamas he’s had on for the last four days, “I have NO idea!”
I’m the only one to do the wash, cook the meals, clean up after the meals, and figure out the best way to get to the groceries without exposing us all to germs. The only one to ensure they don’t sit on the couch all day watching TV or their iPad (which I’m clearly not doing a very good job of monitoring right now). And I have a full time job to do. I am finding I’m barely getting a full day of work in, as I’m trying to balance spending time with the kids, keeping the peace, working in some type of brain enrichment, getting them outside, and finding time to simply take a shower and try to have a few minutes to myself.
And as I see what seems to be the rest of the world organizing fun activities for their kids, ensuring there is proper school work time, craft time, music time, exercise time, quiet time. Working out their schedules where each parent has time to work and play with the kids. Balancing the duties and shouldering the work together.
Solo parents don’t have that luxury. We are literally in survival mode – just trying to keep us all alive, healthy, fed and sane.
Another thing that I can’t help but think about is how much better this experience would be if Seth was here. And I keep wondering why this is all happening without him. I can’t help but think how much fun he would have made this whole thing. He would have been there to help shoulder the work; alternate good cop/bad cop roles, and help with the cooking and cleaning up.
He would also have provided the much needed humor we all seem to need right now. And I would have someone to talk to. I’m thankful I have my kids, family and friends to talk to, but it’s just not the same as having him here trapped in the house with us. Having some real adult conversation. And a chance to have a few minutes of peace without the kids while he takes them on a walk to outside to play.
So we’ve tried to have as much fun as we can. And my goal for the next who knows how many weeks will be for us to keep having fun as we all endure this new lifestyle together. We will keep snuggling on the couch while watching movies, making dinner together, having lots of dance parties, and taking lots of walks. And doing a little school work now and again.
And I’m so thankful that the kids have been full of so much love these past few weeks, offering more hugs and kisses than ever before. And it’s funny because they keep saying to me, “I love you mom.” Almost like they know how exhausting all of this is. Or maybe they are happy because we are getting to have so much time together. To connect, make memories and love each other. Either way, I’ll take it!
So my advice is to ask for help when you need it, even though help looks different right now. Let a friend bring your groceries. Ask a neighbor if they have a pencil sharpener you can borrow or any other random item you may find your self needing (true story and I’m so thankful for my village). Find the reasons to laugh and smile. Keep making the kids laugh and smile. Watch movies all day if you want to and let the house stay a mess for a few days. Make time for walks and dance parties with the kids. Keep helping the kids to feel loved and comforted. Lord knows we’ve already been through enough sadness to not need more at this point.
And also be sure to give yourself some grace, as I’m trying to do each and every minute of the day. We are all in survival mode after all. And as any widow can tell you, we know all about what it’s like to be in survival mode. We’ve been doing it for months and years.
And remember, we are strong, badass mamas. And we have enough love in our hearts for both us and our husbands to share with these precious kids who are looking to us during these confusing times. Ensure they feel that love. And let’s do our best to give our kiddos the best memories we can from this time together.