Stuck in between: Parenting during the Pandemic

It is 9.30 AM on a Monday. I have already swept the kitchen floor 3 times, changed 2 outfits, wiped one bum, and attempted 2 pinterest crafts. I am exhausted and unsure how I will make it the rest of the day. This is hard. 

Thirty minutes later I am feeding my 1 year old a bottle. His little fingers stroke my hands as I play with his fine, wispy hair. His head is snuzzled up against my chest and his breathing is calm. I am appreciative of all this extra time I have been able to spend with him as I watch him grow from an infant to a toddler. It fills me with love and hope. 

It’s lunch time. I am negotiating with my 3 year old about using grape or strawberry jelly. He is crying because I cut his sandwich in halves, not fourths. My 1 year old throws his food on the floor as he laughs manically and then the dog steals the aforementioned sandwich anyways. I make a 3rd sandwich, this one with red jelly and cut in fourths. This is hard.

Afternoon nap time and I cuddle up on the couch with my 3 year old. I feel a twinge of guilt about the extra screen time he is having during this period, but am comforted by his comments about the sea creatures he is learning about in his new favorite, Octonauts. He pulls me closer and says “I love you Mommy.” It fills me with love and hope.

My husband comes out of his makeshift bedroom office and we switch shifts. I had to my makeshift basement office to complete 4 telehealth visits as my job as a pediatric occupational therapist. I mostly work with children with Autism or other developmental delays. The learning curve to complete virtual treatments has been challenging.  My first two treatments go well as the children are attentive and the parents are prepared. My third treatment, the child is becoming burnt out from screens. He receives zoom kindergarten meetings, virtual speech therapy, telehealth ABA sessions and papers sent from teachers to complete. It is a lot and everyone is overwhelmed. I notice his decreased attention and focus on movement activities and yoga. Everyone needs a break. My last visit becomes more of a parental coaching and consulting session. The parent has two young children at home and is overwhelmed with the sudden responsibility of now becoming her child’s teacher, therapist, behavioral coach, musical instructor and still a mother, all at once. I try to help her focus on one goal at at time, take it day by day and celebrate the small victories. Three hours later, I finish my visits. This is hard. 

I walk upstairs to begin dinner time. It’s 5.30, the bewitching hour. Luckily, my husband is done working too and we can tag team, dinner, bath and bedtime routines. My two boys greet me like I’ve been gone for weeks not hours. Clamoring to hug my legs. It snaps me out of my previous work mode and brings me back to the present with my children. I watch my 1 year old holding onto his father’s hand, hesitantly take his first few steps and his adorable, proud smile as we clap and cheer for him. Life feels normal again. It fills me with love and hope. 

As I lie next to my 3 year old in bed, we talk about his day. He remembers playing a board game with daddy, going on a walk in the neighborhood and seeing the “big dump truck,” eating ice cream as a treat and snuggling with mommy. He is young enough to not fully grasp how his world is forever changing. He occasionally becomes sad that playgrounds are closed and I know he desperately misses his grandparents, but he knows that “people are sick, so we are staying home until everyone is better.”  I read him a book and tell him a story about puppies. As his eyes close, I start to sit up, his little arm reaches out and pulls me closer to him, tighter, “stay” he whispers, and I happily lie back down. I stroke his hair as I watch him fall asleep. He is becoming more mature every day and no longer seems like the infant I used to cradle. I am appreciative of his spirit, energy, and love. He keeps me in the moment, present and smiling.

These past few weeks have been challenging for everyone.  I have frequently felt stuck in the middle, riding this roller coaster of emotions. It is hard. Sometimes I feel dread and anxiety about the upcoming weeks, months or years. Other times life feels normal and I am so happy to have my little family to keep me going.

It is hard but they fill me with love and hope. 




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