Finally, the (drink) day we have been counting down to for months, has arrived. The mother ship has landed. That is...my mom is up for the summer. She does a 50/50 split between Naples and Chatham and helps ENORMOUSLY with the kids when she's here. Normally, she arrives mid-April, but Corona Virus. When she arrived yesterday, we all awkwardly "air hugged," Nana clad in mask having just been on a plane. We kept our distance outside, but it was hard. (Drink) Still, having my mom in town, even at six feet away for a couple weeks, is better than no Nana at all.
A few weeks ago, she sent this to me, and, in honor of her arrival, I thought it was an appropriate time to share. Her (drink) advice, as always, is sound, but I have to admit, I've found myself doing the exact opposite....
WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS DURING THE CORONA VIRUS
These days people are looking for answers to help cope. But it’s not always easy to find the right source. Unless someone has walked in the same shoes it’s difficult for them to give sound advice. If others don’t fully understand the situation, their attempt at guidance may prove insufficient, even detrimental. When you reach the point when you’re ready to explode and you feel helpless, it could be aggravating to receive recommendations intended as sincere but actually worthless or ineffective. So, who to ask or where to seek out the solutions we need?
Case in point……Now that my kids are adults, sometimes they share stories regarding their children and may ask for advice. I try to choose my words wisely and am careful to assess as to whether I’m really qualified to help. For example: If my daughter were to complain that her kids (5 in number I might add!) were driving her up the wall, and I dismissed it or suggested some new-age, ridiculous, alternative parenting hogwash remedy …Watch out! Knowing my daughter, I’m pretty confident I’d be reprimanded and have the book thrown at me. And probably rightfully so. I wasn’t there 24/7 when her kid repeatedly upset the apple cart. What right do I have to give suggestions like “why didn’t you just try such and such;” or “you should have told them this or that?” Since my days as a full-time mom are over and I am living far from the ruckus and pretty much spending the days as I please, I can hardly pretend to share my daughter’s experience. When I hear the despair in her voice about how tough a day she’s having or about the perils of home schooling, maintaining an orderly household with everyone constantly underfoot, and continually having to break up fights, it would be so easy for me to say things like, “this too shall pass” or “tomorrow’s another day”. However, in my heart I realize that hardly helps to assuage her feelings of helplessness.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll be joining the brouhaha, leaving my peaceful cocoon here in Florida and heading to Cape Cod for the season where I join the circus each year. I realize I’ll need to quarantine along with everyone else, but after it’s deemed safe, I’m preparing myself to be thrown into the lion’s cage or shot from the cannon. In an attempt to come to the rescue to my worn-out daughter, I’m sure I’ll learn quickly that her cries for help are well-founded. And I know that when it’s my turn to help manage and take on those “angels”, they’ll begin to perform their clown acts with me as well. Then I’ll be “in” it and truly able to sympathize. When a kid challenges you and you’re at your wits end, I know exactly what happens. All those rational things you tell yourself concerning discipline, fly right out the window and you begin to question your own rationality and self-control.
Years ago, when I became a new mother, I was constantly doubting my parenting skills. I wanted to show my family and friends that I had it all together; but in reality, I was constantly experiencing self-doubt and questioning my abilities; yet at the same time, putting on a brave front. I happened to run across an article entitled, “What Every Mother Needs is Another Mother To Talk To”. How true I discovered this to be when, soon after, I found a new bestie who had a son the same age as mine and, like me, had another one on the way. She was my savior and I, hers throughout those child rearing years. In fact, 35 years later, we still remain dear friends.
So, trying to use my words wisely, here’s a suggestion to those parents who find themselves in the similar predicament of having to juggle many new demands; from someone whose been there and has managed to survive parenthood through trying times. I hope it sits well. I think the best thing parents can do for each other while trying to battle through the long, exhausting child rearing days of the corona virus, is to commiserate with each other and recognize the importance of comradery. I believe it would relieve the pressure to find someone to talk with sincerely, to express feelings openly, and to lean on. Someone who genuinely understands. Someone to validate your feelings and allow you to let it all out and perhaps admit to acting inappropriately occasionally. Someone around to say, “I get it and understand what you’re going through because so am I.”
Often, we get caught up in trying to portray the image of perfection or at least close to it; to be a super parent; one who is able to control all stages of chaos and disruption. When you think about it, how very unrealistic and absurd. After all, kids are kids and are known to be challenging beyond belief. It’s important to come to realize that certain goals are overly-ambitious and unrealistic. When we try in vain to compete and meet unattainable objectives, we set ourselves up for disappointment and defeat. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to let our hair down? Wouldn’t it be comforting to allow ourselves to cry together, laugh together and share together, without fear of retaliation, judgement or finger pointing?
What a gift we could give each other especially during this difficult and exceptional period; if only we dare to admit the truth…. that child rearing in the best of times is difficult and now, during the phases of a lock-down, close to impossible. It only takes one brave soul to start the trend to admit to needing additional support for the sake of sanity. Who’s in? “A problem shared is a problem halved”
My Two Cents...
As I mentioned, I find myself doing the exact opposite and I'm not sure why. I'm closing in like a hermit, not really wanting to leave (drink) the house. It's not that I'm scared of catching the virus. I guess it's just depressing out there and a grim reminder that life is drastically different. I've kept friends at arms length, more comfortable in my own bubble than attempting an awkwardly socially distanced get together. There's plans on the horizon as the summer approaches and the warm weather allows (small) outdoor gatherings. I look forward (drink) to them with apprehension, though. I don't know how to act or the protocol others expect. Everyone's comfort levels are different and I want to respect boundaries and preferences. It's hard to be social when all these questions are (drink) flying through your head. We all feel this way, I'm sure. And when we do start taking these baby steps toward normalcy, it will fall into place. Until then, I'll be in my bubble.