Mothering during a Pandemic

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On a particularly rough morning of mothering a few weeks ago, I thought to myself, “I wonder what the Mothers during the 1918 influenza pandemic were thinking and feeling.”

I wondered to myself if they felt lonely, overwhelmed, frustrated, scared and angry.

I wondered because those were the emotions I was feeling on that morning when life felt hard and I didn’t feel quite strong enough to handle it.

Since 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed our lives there have been so many changes to our normal.

Woman with a face mask on holding her child

Our lives as we knew them are forever different.

And I think even if we wanted to, it won’t ever go back to the way it was before because we are changed.

We are different.

We have grown.

We have persevered.

We have shown resilience.

Yes, all of those things.

But, we have also felt

  • broken
  • frustrated
  • lonely
  • mad
  • scared
  • overwhelmed
  • stressed

I could go on and on. But, you are living through it. You know how you’ve felt the last 1.5 years. You know the emotional and physical toll that this has caused in your own life.

And I’m not really even talking about the actual virus itself. I’m talking about all the other impacts it’s had on us.

It has effected the entire world, not just physically, but mentally. It has caused division in families, friendships, schools, workplaces, etc. It has effected every gender, every age, every social class and every race.

This virus has taken so much from us.

I don’t have the answer to fix it. I wish I did. I just want you to know that the toll it is taking on you is a heavy one, but you are not alone in this.

I’m especially talking to the Mothers because that is who I can relate the most to, in what feels like the fight of our lives for our kids and the only childhood they’ll ever have. We don’t get these years back, and I refuse to waste them with my kids despite what is going on around us.

We are all in it though. Together. Even still. Even amidst the division and the opposing beliefs. Even amidst how different people are handling it… WE ARE ALL STILL LIVING DURING A PANDEMIC.

a child with a face mask on

Therefore, we must learn to work together.

To listen. To comfort. To meet people where they are, even if they don’t believe or agree with what you believe.

We have to remind one another that though we want things to be different, we want our “old lives” back, we want peace and hope and community again… we are only going to get there if we commit to compassion.

That morning that I wondered how the Mothers of the pandemic of 1918 handled it, I wished there was a way for me to talk to one of them. To ask how they felt. So, I went to Instagram and I asked my community to share what they felt during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

I hope as you read the entries below, you will see that we all are struggling in some way but we are still here, showing up, committed to our children.

All of us have been affected.

Not one single person has been left untouched by this pandemic. So, remember that as you are talking to people, as you are engaging on the internet, as you are working with others… they have a story too, one that has deeply affected them just as you have been deeply affected, too.

a woman looking out a window with her hand on the glass

Here are what some of the women shared when I asked what it was like to Mother during a Pandemic:

  • It’s made us more honest with each other. “I’m not okay today because….” OR “I’m so glad we got to spend this bonus time together” and really hearing each other and not keeping positive or negative emotions from each other. Also, LEARNING to embrace negative emotions! I finally am comfortable crying in front of the kids – it’s not scary to them when they understand that everyone feels things and now we can work on coping strategies together 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
  • I think the different way of handling it – has made me feel most alone.  In the beginning we were a team.  Now I feel like I’m the only one with kids still masking and staying outdoors.  It’s so hard
  • I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer last April during the height of the pandemic. I had to go to all of my appointments/surgeries ALONE. Then come home And mother my 7 & 9 year old. We also had to live like hermits bc I was so terrified of catching Covid bc chemo and radiation left me with absolutely no immune system at all. It was so hard on all of us. I felt like a terrible Mom bc my kids were stuck in our house for months on end. But, we colored and played more board games than we ever have. My kids learned to cook (simple things) bc I was too weak to stand and do it myself. We grew so much as a family from April-December.
  • My college daughter was home for two summers she would not have been. We were able to have some extra special quality time with her we would have never had. We had lots of great conversations and made wonderful memories that would not have happened.
  • I have gotten so much one on one time with my older kids who did virtual school last year. I learned more about their personalities vs their study habits. They developed better bonds with their younger brothers.
  • The negative is that my younger kids (5 & 3) are having behavioral issues from not being able to be out in public. They haven’t learned expected behaviors(5) and how to read facial expressions from strangers (3). My kindergartener is especially struggling with school expectations.
  • Looking back, it’s actually been a really great year and a half for our family.  Instead of working a ton and spending time commuting, I’ve been able to be home with my kids a lot more. We’ve slowed down and said no to a lot, which has given us a lot more family time on nights and weekends. Instead of flying somewhere for vacation, we took a road trip and we’re all still talking about how  that was our best vacation ever! Even at Christmas, there was something magical and calming about it just being the 4 of us with no rush to get anywhere and see anyone. Sure, I’m sad my kids have missed out on some things. However, they’ve had experiences they never would have had otherwise. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that parenting is hard – pandemic or not.
  • I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster, just trying to keep myself afloat. I am so proud of my kids for just going with all these changes, they are strong and it has brought us closer. I am scared to death to send them to school without the vaccine available to them, yet I am excited to see the real true smiles beaming through on their faces. I am sad to see all the hate, and division throughout the world. Constant worry and anxiety, while pretending everything is okay for my sweet little innocent people at home. I am exhausted.
  • I feel like the pandemic paved the way for honest communication with my kids and myself and spouse. We had such deep conservation about world views and how we treat those around us, about life and death, about resilience.  It also showed me how vulnerable my kids are to my stress and the things I choose to focus on. We had so much extra time for play and snuggles that I will always cherish.  It  also showed me they need time to process these world events that are happening.  Even if we don’t talk about it at home, they hear about it from school and media. They needed extra reassurance that the adults in there life would keep them safe and healthy and make good choices so they could continue being kids.
  • As a working mom, the pandemic allowed for me to work from home and I was able to see and be with my children more than I ever had. Yes it was hard to work with school aged children that were also trying to figure “remote work”, but, it was amazing to be PRESENT. I learned more about my children and they learned more about me. I will forever cherish those moments and wish so badly I could work from home again and be with my family instead of spending only three hours a day with them on weekdays 😢.
  • It has been hard! But at the same time I enjoy being around my kid more. It’s made me realize just how quickly the time goes. And I’m so quick to say, “I’ll do that another day”. I don’t do that anymore! I make stuff happen. Because I’ve kinda lost track of time within the pandemic & learning that life dies still happen & go on & I need to embrace that!  Thank you for sharing & being REAL!
a woman with a face mask on looking out the window with her hands on the glass
  • Constant state of worry. Especially here lately. I know that Christ calls me not to worry but my flesh caves. Also, the division, everywhere. Political division, vax division, and everything else… I know it’s seeping into our homes and making it so much harder for me as a mom to just stop and take a deep breath.  My husband is a police officer so… that just adds a whole different piece to the puzzle and adds to my worry of one of us contracting this virus.  I will say that through this, I have been fortunate to have a job where I can work from home. My employer is also working through revamping the work at home policy to allow full time work at home options for employees. With this flexibility, I am able to take my kids to and pick them up from school. I pick up my son first and we have about 20 minutes (just the two of us) just to chat about his day and he has been really good about just regurgitating everything he wants to. I have this same time before school with my daughter after we drop my son of and while we wait for her school to start. Through my worries, I do thank God for the silver lining and the rainbows he provides. ❤️
  • Scared for my type 1, nervous what the isolation made my kids feel like. Hoping i taught them to love through the hard. Happy for so much time together. We had to rely on each other and grew as a family.
  • As a new mother, one thing I appreciate about the pandemic is the flexibility around work. I was able to work from home, until fairly recently, and with stricter rules around daycare attendance I have been able to work from home when my daughter is sick. Pre-pandemic I would have had to take the day off and use PTO. The pandemic has given me more time with my daughter. ❤️
  • I became a mom during the pandemic. My husband and I have tried to convince for five years. So prior to the pandemic, we decided to become foster parents. We got the call in September 2020 to take two boys (9 months & 2 years old at the time of placement). We said yes. Our world was quickly turned upside down and we’re learning how to parent and two weeks later, we all got Covid. October was the most difficult month of my life. It felt isolating and overwhelming and impossible at times. But we were able to bond with our boys in ways we never would have been able too. We definitely underestimated how hard it would be to parent/foster during a pandemic. It has been very lonely/isolating and overwhelming. Our normal support system was stripped away and is now just starting to happen a year later. We are so thankful for our boys and a year later, are hopeful that it looks like we will get to adopt them some time in the future. And that brings my heart so much joy!

And as for myself,

the pandemic has taught me so much about relationships. It allowed our family to grow closer as my husband is home more now than he ever has been since we’ve been married. I learned to lean a lot more on him, because many of my friendships changed. I realized at the end of the day the most important people in my life are the ones I share my home with, they are the ones I will protect fiercely. I will stand firm in what I believe is best for them.

I have learned that even when I’m having a hard day of mothering, my kids are also allowed to have a hard day of being a kid. When we can meet each other in the struggle with a hug, or kind gesture, it helps us both. This is something I’m working on more and more. I’m not perfect, but I recognize what is working, and what doesn’t.

My hope is that those of us who have mothered during this time will look back and be proud of how we handled it. The way we offered a helping hand, showed kindness, compassion and support to everyone, not just those who are on the same side as we are.

We have little eyes watching, Mama, during a time of intensity, fear and anger. May our homes be a safe haven for our families to know that they are always loved, even when the world outside feels scary, lonely and volatile.

*I would love for you to share in the comments how it has felt for you to mother during a pandemic. I hope it offers hope and encouragement to so many, so we all have a reminder that we are in this together, and you are not alone.

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