Parenthood is a crash course in expecting the unexpected. But—come on. Who else has lost count of how many times the word "unprecedented" has been thrown around to describe this coronavirus pandemic?
In the span of just a few weeks, our lives have been completely shaken up and our sense of what is normal has been turned upside down...
It's unprecedented to distance ourselves from extended family members.
It's unprecedented to save grocery shopping trips for once every week or two and hope there is toilet paper still on the shelves.
It's unprecedented to have schools, workplaces, restaurants and more shuttered indefinitely.
Yet here we are—even as mamas who are naturally experienced with rising to the challenge, this is a hard one. As we stand here today facing the enormity of the challenge ahead, it's okay if you can't help but feel overwhelmed. That's normal.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how you will balance "non-essential" work with the very pressing responsibilities of parenting.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how you will cope with long afternoons without your go-to outings.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how you will answer your children's questions about why they can't see friends or family when that's all you really want, too.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how your marriage will stay "light and exciting" as the world feels so heavy and sad.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how you will create meaningful space for your own self-care with your physical space so confined.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how you will fill your children's time in ways that are at once educational, creativity-boosting, stimulating and fun.
Right now, you may not be able to imagine how you will overcome the sense of isolation with interactions limited to FaceTime calls or Zoom hangouts.
But we soon will know.
Whether the shelter in place mandate is lifted by the currently scheduled date in your area or if it stretches on to a later point in time, I believe our strength will be revealed to us day by day, low point by low point and high point by high point—and there will come a day when this trial ends.
Just like past generations were called to face their own great and "unprecedented" challenges, this is ours. And although we didn't ask for it and may not have any other option but to deal with it, we still stand to learn and grow from this experience. For the rest of our lives, this is a defining moment we will look back on when we need evidence of our strength.
Because, remember this, mama: Today, we may be looking ahead and bracing ourselves. But there will just as surely come a day when we stand on the other side of this—and on that day, our anxiety will surely be replaced with accomplishment. There is light on the other side.