“Due to the coronavirus, New Jersey schools will be closed indefinitely.” I will never forget receiving that email on Thursday, March 12, 2020. We found out that starting the following Monday, March 16, my three boys ages 7, 5, and 3 would be quarantined at home with us…with no end in sight. In fact, here we are on May 13th and school is closed for the rest of the year and we are still under lockdown.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my kids. And being a mother, one that stays home for work is my greatest honor, joy, and privilege. But it is also very, very challenging. It’s not like a one and done, “Oh that was hard! Glad it’s over!” kind of challenge. No. Each moment is different, often bringing unique, brand new, difficult situations. You don’t know what’s lurking around the corner, you don’t know if you have faced it before, or if you will be able to handle it physically, emotionally, or mentally. You often feel like a soldier totally unprepared for battle.
The Quarantined Parent’s Fears
At that moment, where you feel you are at rock bottom and thinking, “I can’t possibly get through 2 weeks at home with my kids.” (Back when we thought this whole quarantine lockdown would be just two weeks – ha!) You remember that you can do hard things. That God made humans resilient and adaptable. And that He gave you a mind that can be renewed and refreshed to take on new challenges and develop new perspectives.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
You remember all the times as a parent (and in life) you overcame challenges (one being growing and birthing a baby)! God gave you the strength, motivation, and grace to climb each mountain in front of you. And here you are, getting through this challenge. It’s not pretty. It’s loud, it’s frustrating, it’s daunting, it’s crazy-making, and you often just wish it to be over. But you’re doing it…longer than you expected…and you will keep doing it until it’s over. Even if that means some days feel like you are a hamster on a wheel in the middle of Groundhog Day.
The Quarantined Silver Lining
Maybe you have started seeing the good in this. Maybe you have noticed how nice it is to slow down. And how you get to spend all this unexpected time with your spouse. And maybe you are comforted by the fact that they are close by if you need their help. Or maybe you are not used to having all your kids together all day, and when you get over the fact that oftentimes you would rather pull out each eyelash one-by-one than play hide and seek for the 58th time, you realize how special it is to have this precious time together. You are loving each other, connecting with each other, filling each other up, and learning from one another (when you’re not yelling at them, or yelling over them, of course).
You Have Overcome And You Will Overcome!
Remember when you found out you were going to be a parent and your joy was often overshadowed by that dark cloud of fear? “What if I am bad at this? And what if we can’t afford this? What if I don’t bond with my baby?” Look at you now! God held your hand and walked you through.
“For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.”
Remember that time when you had a 21-month-old, hyper wild child, and you brought home your two-day-old infant and thought, “There is no way I can keep all these humans alive without going completely insane.” But you did it! And you even went on to have another baby, exactly two years later (true story…my true story).
In parenting and life, there is hardly ever a time where you look back and think, “I never actually made it through that challenge.” Because even if you tried something, and you failed, you still have the experience to learn from, grow from, and build upon.
This COVID-19, shelter-in-place, quarantined, parenting challenge is no different. It’s going to require a lot of grace. Grace for yourself, grace for your kids. None of you have ever been in this situation before! There has probably never been a time before where you or your kids were forced to stay home for an indefinite period of time without going anywhere for a change of scenery, and without interacting with anyone other than your family. It is new for you and it is new for them. Give them grace. Give yourself grace. Enjoy the journey and look for the positive blessings that will pour out of it. Even if that means you are just happy you are on day 47 of wearing the same sweatpants.