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"Mommy, when the virus is over..."

"Mommy, when the virus is over..."

This is a phrase that my kids have said to us at least 100 times over the last four months.

“Mommy, when the virus is over, can we play with our friends?”

“Mommy, when the virus is over, can we go to the park again?”

“Mommy, when the virus is over, will we still have to wear a mask?”

These times have been hard, mama.

Over the last four months, I’ve gotten sick with Covid-19 and my husband has been furloughed and yet we’re still among the lucky ones. But if it’s even possible, I feel more anxiety over these last six weeks than I did during the first six. Why? Because….well, there's no end in sight. We don't know when this virus will be over.

And we’re open. But not really? Only sort of. And then only with necessary limitations that change by the week. And so...

These times have been hard, mama.

Because our five year-old may or may not start kindergarten in person. And if she starts in person, what does that look like? And if she doesn’t, what then? Because my husband is looking for a job and I’m working full time and we’re about to figure out what you learn in Kindergarten, because we may be her primary teachers for the foreseeable future. Because our youngest liked the comfort of these four walls for these four months and doesn’t want to go back to daycare and play with her friends. Because we don’t know if you can get this thing twice and so, no, we don’t feel totally safe, but also we don’t want to live in such a bubble of protection that we lose the ability to live life. And because we want to be conscientious and good citizens of the greater world and not make things worse for those who are even more at risk. Because we don’t know if or when Ian will go back to work and the unemployment departments across the country are overwhelmed and under-staffed and we don’t know when we’ll have a second source of income again. Because we’re worried about our friends and family and we’re missing them terribly. Because social media makes you want to never crawl out of a deep, dark hole. Because every news outlet reminds you that there are people who aren’t being as careful as you are and it makes you scared for what’s to come. Because there’s a necessary and important social movement happening in the country that feels overwhelming to think about, sometimes, because you know you’re not doing enough and also don’t feel like you could do any more than you’re currently doing to just get through the day. Because we don’t want to turn our kids into anxiety-riddled germaphobes who can’t leave the house, but also we need them to understand why hand-washing and masks are a must. Because you’re tired, your spouse is tired, your kids are tired….and there’s no end in sight.

These times have been hard, mama.

Remember last time when I talked about comparative suffering? It’s hard not to do, I know. And honestly, this new normal of stepped levels of “opening up” makes me want to simultaneously lock myself down again completely and, also, throw my hands up in the air and say, “Forget it!” and just, like, lick the sidewalk. Which I realize would make me both disgusting and an idiot, and so I don’t do it.

But I’m just saying I feel all sorts of conflicted over what the “right” level of open is for us. And it’s different than the “right” level of open for our neighbors and friends. And if you’re the mom on the block who still doesn’t want to let your kids play with any other kids yet because, pandemic, well then you’re a monster. And if you’re the mom on the block who has let your kid play with one or two others, but no more, than someone is left out and, so, monster. And if you’re the mom on the block who is letting your kid play with every kid on the block who’s allowed? Monster.

These times have been hard, mama.

Which I think is why we’re all playing a game of anxiety hot potato. Because we’re all just tossing our anxiety back and forth to each other when trying to make any decision, feeling paralyzed to make a decision, and terrified of getting burned by the consequences of any actual action. We want to know that others are living with the same uncertainty and that we’re not alone. And we want to truly believe it when we’re reminded that our kids are resilient and that we are, too.

These times have been hard, mama. So be gentle with your kids, be gentle with yourself, and be gentle with your spouse. Especially considering that I’ve offered to “help bury his body” to more than a few of my girlfriends in the last few weeks, because, well, solidarity.

But murder isn’t the answer, mama. However, locking yourself in the bathroom to binge-watch Netflix and pretending you don’t hear your kids asking for a snack until their dad finally does it, always is.

These times have been hard, mama. And you’re doing a good job.


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