Summer is my favorite season. I get to wear my favorite outfits, eat my favorite foods and most importantly hang out outside all day long. I power through throughout the year just to get to those warm summer days.

After becoming a mom summer became even more special because I get to share all those fun activities with my kids. They all love playing with sand, dipping their toes in all bodies of water, getting splashed around by their dad and running through sprinklers. Lunch picnics were a thing last summer. So were family cookouts, outings to our favorite ice cream shop and hanging out with friends with same-aged kids at the park or local brewery.

This summer, however, comes with the added stress of dealing with a global pandemic. Yet everyone is telling us, parents, that we still need to make it magical for our kids. I get it. They need it. We all need it. But as many working parents of multiple aged children know, I don't have the time —or even the energy— to make this season magical.

Instead, you can find me worrying about the very delicate balancing act that requires keeping three children under the age of three stuck at home all day with two working parents without any help.

You can find me worrying about how a second wave is approaching, frustrated that the last several months we spent in total isolation were practically for nothing.

You can find me worrying about how to stay focused at work while also preparing food for everyone and making sure my kids are not fighting too much.

On top of all that I'm supposed to build forts, make our backyard (yes, we are lucky to have one) an amusement park, schedule virtual playdates (because we are still staying isolated, I'm not risking it), keep everyone engaged so they hit their developmental milestones and don't forget to have fun.

Sorry. I can't.
My wallet can't.
My brain can't.
I don't have the energy, I just

And trust me, it is not that I don't want to. I do. So badly. After all, we only have 18 summers with our kids and we all know how fast they grow up. Before I realize it, the toddler that loves chalk painting with me on our sidewalk will be driving to his friend's place to chill without me being around. My babies who love to be plopped under a tree and see their big brother chase the dogs in circles will soon be running all over the place and be hard to happily contain.

I want to enjoy this first summer as a family of five so badly, but I just can't.

I have to keep focusing on staying away from everyone we love so we are all healthy and virus-free.

I have to keep doing my job as best as I possibly can to avoid losing it in the middle of a historic unemployment crisis.

I have to keep telling my family that no, they can't come to help us or meet the babies because we don't want them to be exposed to this deadly virus.

I have to keep hoping that my state will be proactive and we won't see numbers skyrocket again, because my mental health cannot and will not be able to handle it.

I'm sure I will forever remember this summer, but not for the reasons I wanted to. Hopefully next summer I will be able to make it up to everyone. Right now I just can't, and I forgive myself for that.