As a parent, you love your child(ren). It doesn’t always come right away, but it grows more and more everyday. Even days where you consider hiding in the closet just to get a break. The unconditional love that most often accompanies motherhood is one of the strongest bonds you will ever know, BUT sometimes mama just needs a break. And that’s okay!
Non-parents may give you the side-eye while saying “you chose to be a parent and that means being a parent 24/7 from that day forward”. Yes, we chose this life, but just because we chose to create another human being does not negate our basic survival instincts and wanting some alone time. Even if that is literally just long enough to pee or not be forced to share a snack.
Then we experienced the pandemic. Actually, most of the world still it. So here’s the full truth of the matter: we chose to become parents knowing that we needed to care for our child (collectively!) every single day and night. We chose knowing that both parents would take turns and help each other along the way. We chose to have a child knowing that we had access to alternate childcare on days where we really needed help in order to be able to take a shower or nap or do the laundry or whatever. We chose to have a child knowing that we would go out on daily adventures to educate them on so many things and enjoy a variety of fun activities. The pandemic definitely put a wrench in those plans. No, actually, it feels more like they have beaten with that wrench so ban that their vital organs are spread across the lawn that hasn’t been mowed in months. ALL expectations of parenthood have changed. No help, no reprieve, no end in sight to the isolation and fear. I would have never guessed that I would literally be frozen with fear at the thought of my baby’s grandmother giving her a hug, or her uncle coming within a few feet of her, or at the thought of her own father touching her. Despite the fact that I chose the life of being a parent, I did NOT choose that! As much as I love having my kid around all of the time giving me snuggles and giggles, there are meltdowns and rage fits in between that really make it hard to push through all of the other mental storms going on, and sometimes I just need a break. A break to regroup and come back feeling somewhat refreshed and ready to take on the toddler tantrums, to literally rest my body that quite often doesn’t get to sleep because my mind is always active and thinking about all of the things I didn’t accomplish or get done, to spend even a moment alone with my partner that isn’t chewing his head off for buying the wrong brand of coffee creamer. A break to allow me to keep being me, not the sleep-deprived, uncaffeinated, anxiety-filled mama I have slowly become since the world shut down. Even before the pandemic there were days where I really needed a break, and just having a friend over for an hour to chat with was enough to get me through the rest of the week, and video chat just isn’t the same…
So be kind to the stranger you see struggling with their child(ren) at the store, to the parent letting their kid(s) run wild and free at the parc, to the parent hiding tears behind their glasses at the thought of returning home alone with no help. You have no idea what is going on in their minds, but you can sure as hell assume that they are doing their absolute best at being a parent, rolling with the punches this pandemic has dolled out, and would appreciate a nod of solace at the effort the are putting into every damn day.
If you have nothing nice to say, shut your mouth and walk the other way. If you don’t have the words and want to say something nice without worrying about saying the wrong thing, share a great big smile (even from behind your mask) and I promise it will do wonders.