Several women in my membership group were having a rough time today.
This is hard, they said.
They are right. This is hard.
Change is very, very hard.
It’s hard when you choose it.
It’s even harder when it’s forced upon you.
And it’s even harder when it’s forced upon you with literally no notice at all. No time to prepare. Nothing.
BOOM. YOUR LIFE WILL NOW BE VERY DIFFERENT THAN IT WAS YESTERDAY. INDEFINITELY.
If you are working from home (and even if you are home but not working), I know it is REALLY easy to get frustrated with your kids.
I GET IT.
And I just want to share a little story with you.
Every morning I wake up and get myself some coffee and then I sit at the computer in my office and get as much work done as I can before the kids get up.
As the kids wake up, they come into my office one by one, say good morning, and then give me a hug.
Then they usually grab an iPad or turn on the TV and have some quiet time watching a show or playing some games or watching some really stupid stuff on YouTube.
This morning Number 6, my nine-year-old, came downstairs as soon as he woke up and walked directly into my office, just as he does every morning.
But instead of giving me the usual hug and kiss and cheerful Good morning, Mommy!, he burst into tears.
He held on to me super tight, and when he had calmed down a little bit, he said, between crying heaves,
“I miss school. And I miss my friends!!!”
This is our seventh day of social distancing.
And it’s hard.
It’s hard to be a mom and an employee or boss and a teacher and a peacemaker and a chef and a coach and all the other things we have to be. Especially now.
But you know who else it’s hard for?
This is a massive change for our kids.
And they don’t really understand what is going on.
They are confused.
They don’t think like grown ups.
They think like kids!
Even the teenagers.
And their lives have been turned upside down overnight.
They can’t go anywhere.
They can’t see their friends.
They can’t play their favorite sports.
They are missing out on all kinds of stuff.
And there is a good chance their parents are less patient than normal. And they don’t understand why.
They don’t understand the level of stress we might be feeling with so many things changing at once without warning.
They don’t understand the fears about losing a job or the possibility of a complete cessation of income or that we may need to do the same amount of work we normally do in order to get paid under much more difficult circumstances.
They don’t understand our fears about spreading and/or contracting a disease that is potentially deadly.
And they shouldn’t know about a lot of that stuff.
Yes, I think it’s good to be honest with them about a lot of things.
I think we should tell our kids that we have to be smarter about how we eat and about conserving food and about not drinking fourteen Capri Suns in one afternoon.
But then there are things they don’t need to know.
They don’t need to know that we might be worried about keeping a roof over their head.
They don’t need to know that we might be worried about not having enough money for groceries in the next couple weeks.
They don’t need to know how many people are dying every day from the virus.
And the reason why this is really, really hard?
Because it’s really our duty as parents to protect our kids.
To keep them safe.
To be leaders.
To show them how to handle change and uncertainty and stress in a calm and healthy way.
And that’s hard.
Do you know what this whole situation reminds me of?
I have been thinking a lot about the movie Life Is Beautiful.
Did you remember that movie? The one where Roberto Benigni helps his son survive the Holocaust by pretending it’s a game?
This is the scene I have been thinking about so much over the past couple days:
I know that may seem a little bit dramatic.
And it is.
But what we are going through right now reminds me so much of this.
Because we want to give our kids some normalcy and not freak them out while also needing to get a lot of shit done under some really unfamiliar and unusual circumstances and keeping everyone alive.
So I want to give you a reminder.
It has only been a week of this for many of us.
You have to go easy on yourself.
Small changes are hard for most people to make.
Massive changes like what is happening right now?
Those are SUPER hard.
You don’t have to have it all figured out right now.
You don’t have to have any of it figured out right now.
You can’t! It’s a lot of changes.
It is going to take you a while to figure things out and find a system that works for you.
Nobody has this shit figured out already!
You don’t have to do it all at once.
I have not touched school work yet.
On Monday our district is starting distance learning. That will be a whole new wrench in our day.
I am not freaking out about it.
Teachers will understand. This is foreign territory for most of them, too.
You don’t have to have this all figured out now.
The people who are showing pictures of their kids homeschooling and learning and hiking and doing all sorts of perfect-looking shit at home?
I promise you they are not doing all the things.
I promise you that their kids are not behaving perfectly all the time. Or even most of the time.
And I promise you no parents are Mary Fucking Poppins 24/7 right now, either.
You don’t have to do it all straight out of the gate.
You will find a system that flows well. Or well enough.
And whatever powerlessness you are feeling, your kids are feeling the same thing.
Only they don’t have the experience or knowledge or practice to know how to deal with it as effectively as we adults do.
Ask your kids if they need a hug.
Let them know it’s all going to be okay.
Maintain some perspective.
You aren’t Roberto Benigni. Thankfully.
But you can adopt his attitude.
You do have the ability to guide your children’s experience over the next few months.
And while it’s really fucking hard, it’s going to be okay.