You know when you're a kid and you think your parents know everything and have it all figured out? My mom always seemed to have everything organized and prepared. My dad always seemed so strong and capable of anything. I remember one day after school my mom was driving us home and we got caught in the middle of a vicious midwest storm. I was sitting in the back seat crying, terrified of the storm and the heavy rain; convinced we were going to have an accident.
But we didn't; my mom's hand was steady on the wheel and she had complete focus despite my crying. She brought us home safe and sound—as she always did. As I got older, I understood that my parents have their imperfections and faults—but they were always someone I could look to.
Now that I am a parent, I so desperately want my child to feel that way about me. I want him to feel like my husband and I are home base, the neutral zone. But if I'm being honest, the world we are living in still feels scary to me and becoming a parent hasn't suddenly given me this body armor my parents seemed to have.
I was nearing the end of my pregnancy just as the pandemic emerged. My husband and I cared for a newborn during a worldwide lockdown. Our bringing home baby experience was nothing like it would have been in the pre-pandemic world. We are nearing our baby's first birthday. I sit here and think back to this time last year when I thought, "I hope this is over before he's old enough to remember."
We have certainly met our challenges being first time parents during the height of a pandemic, but staying at home has felt safe. As he gets older, we will inevitably have to make more difficult choices. Parenting decisions are tough enough without the added stress of a pandemic to consider.
I don't want this pandemic to tarnish my adulthood or define my parenting style.
In a conversation with my husband recently, I said I feared all of my son's childhood memories would end with, because of COVID. At the end of the day, all generations of parents went through something—job loss, marital problems, substance abuse—just like my parents did. Through all of that, I still saw each of them as my own hero, my rock, my nurse, my cheerleader. Home base. The neutral zone. The steady hand on the wheel guiding us home through a vicious storm.
I hope my son doesn't remember the heartache and sadness we felt during this pandemic. But I hope he does understand that the decisions we made were based in the best interest of not just our family, but of others.
Because of COVID, we are stronger parents. Some day, my son will grow up and realize my husband and I have imperfections and faults, just as I realized about my own parents, but it won't be because of COVID.