I've worked from home for the last seven years. My children's dad has worked from home since last year. And now having all five of our children home full-time due to school closures has been both unexpected and chaotic. It's been a bumpy few weeks transitioning from spring break to not returning to school for the rest of this year.
I want to assure you (and myself)—we will be alright. Take a breath.
Mama, you're human, too.
Honestly, one moment I feel incredibly blessed we're all together, and the next I'm raising my voice to remind someone something I already said nine times just within the last hour. Most days I feel I handled my classroom of 28 fifth graders (in my previous career teaching) better than my own household. Most hours I'm just winging it.
Mama, this, too, shall pass.
I have a 10-month-old teething baby who also has yet another ear infection right now. We decided not to take him into the doctor or an urgent care facility for fear of what else he could contract and our pediatrician isn't comfortable calling him in another prescription despite this being his fourth or fifth infection (I've lost count). But despite him showing every symptom of an ear infection, as a family we don't feel comfortable running the risk of taking his weak immune system out because of the coronavirus.
Mama, it's okay to hold our breath and simply pray.
Our oldest daughter has gotten the flu each year for the last three years in a row, despite having the flu shot. She was in the hospital two out of those three years, and she also has a weakened immune system. We didn't do the flu shot this year and each week she stays healthy, we breathe a small sigh of relief.
Mama, it's okay that they're trying to figure out their new normal.
Our older four kids are close in age and that brings with it a list of pros and cons. It seems their moods vary by the hour (as do ours, the adults), and despite our pleas of, "Why can't you just get along and play nicely with one another," we forget that they, too, are trying to acclimate to this gigantic shift in their worlds.
Mama, we are all struggling right there with you.
Because, this is hard.
I haven't slept in the last five months due to my sweet teething baby boy. I am often left feeling irritable or finding myself snapping back at one of my kids for something that doesn't warrant my short temper.
All this stress and uncertainty left me feeling weary. Moms do hard things all the time, but this hand we've been dealt has been feeling harder and harder.
But then I saw it. I saw what I convinced myself I wouldn't see.
I saw a 12-year-old girl in the intensive care unit (ICU) fighting for her life in the state next to me. An hour later, I saw a 7-month-old baby hospitalized in the state beneath me. And then as if the universe were trying to be even crueler, I saw a video of a mother also in the ICU who was gasping to speak, begging others to take this time of quarantining more seriously.
I went to the bathroom and just stood there over my sink, unable to move. I silently prayed. I recalled some not so fond moments of myself over the last couple weeks. I made promises to myself in terms of how I was going to behave when I walked out of the bathroom into what seemed like a zoo for the better part of the day.
I hit my breaking point.
Maybe it was too close to home with the same ages of the mother and daughter and baby back-to-back this morning.
Maybe it was simply the sheer horror of hearing that woman try to breathe in what very well could have been her last breaths.
Maybe it was the shared heartbreak, from one mother to another, at the thought of her potentially never getting to wrap her arms around her loved ones again.
Mama, it's okay to simply not be okay every hour of each day right now.
I realized it's okay to be scared right now. It's okay to be stressed and exhausted all the while feeling abundantly blessed, and the next hour feeling irrational again. This is an unprecedented time that we're all working through and we're simply doing the best we can.
As much as I'm encouraging walks, riding bikes, shooting hoops and playing soccer and baseball in the backyard, I'm likewise allowing Netflix binges and TikTok dances. Yes, each child is getting more than their "normal" screen time. We're probably eating more snacks than we need to be. And we've all been so off the typical sleep schedules and are staying up late or sleeping in far past normal school start times.
And guess what?
I'm taking comfort in the extra morning snuggles of not rushing anywhere.
I'm not missing the madness of dashing in and out the door for practices and games.
While attempting to adapt through this major adjustment, I've found solace in slowing down with my family. In between these new stressors, some of which we've never faced before, take a deep breath and know that this, too, will be okay.
We just need to allow ourselves some time to figure it out.
Some patience to get used to things.
And lots of grace throughout.
This is hard, yes. But we can do hard things.