To my babies on Mother's Day
I’m feeling all the feels this year and a lot of them aren’t pretty. I’m trying so hard to hang on to gratitude and grace, but it’s hard because in many ways I feel like I’m failing you. The truth is, I’m not the mom I want to be right now. I’m not the mom you’re used to. I’m trying to be the mom you need, but most days I question if I even know what you need anymore.
You see, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and our lives have changed a lot in the last 9 weeks. I never wanted to be / thought I’d be a kindergarten teacher or toddler school teacher or a child psychologist, and yet here we are. Suddenly I have three new jobs that I was ill prepared for. I’m exhausted - not only by the very long days of parenting and teaching alone - but from the late night Googling of topics like, “how do I know if my kids are depressed?” and “COVID-19 sleep regressions” and “can two year olds have anxiety?”
By morning I have very little left to give and I’ve just woken up.
You need me now more than you did as infants. You need to be near me at all times and I find myself saying "please get out from under my feet!" constantly as I trip over your little bodies. You need to be held. You need constant hugs. You need new routines and fewer rules and you need me to pick my battles, which is tricky when I’m so used to enforcing the old rules. You need comfort and education and stimulation and outside time (go away rain, cold and snow!) and sleep - we all need sleep.
When you were babies I would strap you to my chest and go about my day. You were cozy and safe and content hearing my heartbeat right at your ear. Today you're much bigger, and you've outgrown the wrap, but you haven't outgrown the need to be on me, near me, with me and those needs are weighing on me. My whole body is tired and sore at the end of the day. And my brain is fried from trying to anticipate what’s around the next bend or when the next meltdown will be and how I should handle it. Is it a normal sibling squabble, or is it your way of telling me you're sad and you need me again?
They say that kids often take out their bad behavior on mom because she's their safe place. I learned this from a late night Google sesh and boy is it true. And boy is it hard to be your emotional punching bag and to know that instead of getting mad or disciplining you as I normally would, I'm supposed to hug you and love you and tell you it'll all be ok. File this under Pandemic Parenting.
But as hard as this all is for me, I realize it’s even harder for you. You’re confused, scared, lonely – you’re feeling some pretty big emotions for such tiny people.
Belle: you didn’t ask to be picked up from kindergarten one sunny Friday afternoon and never go back. You miss your friends and your teachers and your routine. You miss art class and music and library (P.S., those library books are still in your backpack) and gym and gymnastics and ALL THE THINGS. You miss knowing what to expect from your day and what’s expected from you. Most of the time you can’t quite explain how you’re feeling and you don’t know why you’re mad or sad or just bummed. We have to figure it out together and that can be hard when we’re both tired and frustrated.
And my Rosie: you are the exact opposite. You are more in touch with your feelings than most adults I know. You have big, big feelings for a kid who has yet to turn three. You tell me that you miss seeing people and going to stores and that you just want to give your friends a hug again. You miss your sweet little school – the place I worked so hard to pick out just for you. The place where your very first taste of school has been happening since the fall. This wonderful place gave you just a few hours each week to make friends of your own and learn that you can in fact be away from your momma and be just fine. More than fine, you were thriving there. And now that’s over and it’s hard for you to understand why it all ended so fast and without any goodbyes.
I'm not trying to say that being your mom is hard or that I'm not grateful - trust me when I say, I'm grateful for even the hardest days. What I'm saying is, parenting during a pandemic is HARD and this Mother’s Day is hard because things are hard right now in general. You’re not getting the best version of me and I'm sorry for that. I’m tired and frustrated and worried and I miss my friends and my own mom. I’m trying my hardest to get us all through this and I have no way to measure if I'm succeeding or failing.
People say I should cut myself some slack – that I can’t be everyone and everything for you....
But can’t I?
If not me, then who?
You’re just kids - isn’t that my exact job as your mom...to be your person?
One thing I know for sure is this: a long, long time ago, I prayed for you. I prayed to be your mom. I prayed that you’d always be safe, healthy and strong. Those prayers were all answered, so in turn I will never stop trying to be who you need me to be. No matter how tired or frustrated or completely drained I feel.
Because that’s the promise I made when I prayed for you.