It’s Okay to not be Okay

The other day I read an article about how kids are responding to quarantine.

Sleep regressions.

Behavior regressions.

Potty-training regressions.

Ugh. Yes.

It’s hard being cooped up in the house with your parents all day. It’s hard missing your friends. It’s hard to lose your routine. It’s hard to comprehend all of this when you can read yet.

It’s hard to figure out how to explain all of this as a parent.

I was under no illusion that working from home with my husband, two kids, and three pets would be easy. I understood it would be difficult and I very much get that I am lucky to be privileged enough to do so.

We are safe. We are healthy. We are together.

I should be grateful. I am grateful.

But I’m also losing my fucking mind.

Last night, I slept on the hard-wood floor beside my daughter’s crib because she screams bloody murder when she wakes up every hour unless someone is in her room with her. And, of course, she won’t sleep in our bed because that would be too easy.

My son had his first accident in almost a year. He’s started hitting, screaming, and breaking down anytime he hears the word no. He’s almost five, and I’d naively believed we were past this.

But COVID-19 had other plans for us.

Is it possible to have a parental regression? I feel like all I do is yell and ruin their lives. I have no idea how to handle any of this. Like, there’s no training for parenthood but there’s literally nothing on this. I hope therapists are prepared for the onslaught of COVID kids in 2030.

I see other parents doing arts and crafts and showing off their stellar parenting skills. I see advice on doing all these things, and yet I don’t know where to find the time.

Between normal work obligations, meetings, mini-crisis, cooking, cleaning, tempering temper tantrums, balancing my spouse’s work needs and meetings, and keeping us all alive, I don’t have the time or mental capacity for much else.

I have reading commitments for the blog and Bookstagram to keep up. I have a new book I’m writing (about an unemployed, single, childless woman with one elderly cat, of course). I have me to remember and take care of.

I don’t have the energy to curate and prepare the materials to make shaving cream art or macaroni necklaces every single day. We try to get outside and play in our yard when we can but that is time away from work. (Hello guilt, my constant friend.)

So many well-meaning people want to remind us parents that we’re living in a historic moment and should cherish this time with our kids. I’d love to, Susan, but it’s kinda hard to cherish a time filled with screaming, sleepless nights, and mounting pressure. There’s no playbook for this and it’s hard to stomach advice from people not living the same quarantine life.

My sole hope for my family is that we make it out intact and alive. We won’t be learning any new skills or creating mini art museums.

I’ll do my best to take things one day at a time but I know me well enough to know that I’ll be stressing out over the future. After all, I’m not about to let this pandemic change too much.

I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to breakdown on occasion. It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s okay to feel smothered by your children. It’s okay. None of this is normal. We’re all doing the best we can, and if the best we can do is give in to allowing our kids to run around the asylum naked, then run they will.

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