Here’s The Mom I Want to Be When Things Go Back To Normal

The COVID-19 lockdown hasn’t been a walk in the park, but it’s taught me some important lessons about how I want to live, love and parent…

mom during covid-19

The last six years of my life have been hard. I’ve raised three children under three with no family help. I’ve worked hard to keep my career afloat and food on the table. I’ve contended with exhaustion and emotional burnout. I’ve struggled with marital issues because of all the pressures in our lives.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, I felt anxious like the rest of the world. I wasn’t sure I could handle another wave crashing over me. But then something strange happened: after the initial storm, I felt a sense of calm. “What is this feeling?” I thought. “Is it happiness?”

I feel horribly guilty saying that a pandemic that affected millions of lives around the world brought me joy, but it did. It gave me a chance to stop and breathe. And I’m not alone. Social media is rife with stories of people from all walks of life who are thankful for the deep breath they’ve been able to take while the world is in lockdown. 

I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to wake up later, go for long walks with my kids, avoid traffic, take a bit of a breather from work, be involved in my eldest daughter’s learning, get plenty of exercise and fresh air, and feel the stress of the rat race melt away.

I’ve been a better parent and I want to take the lessons I’ve learned into my post-COVID life. When all this is said and done, I want to be a mom who…

  1. Slows down and appreciates the small moments

You know that racing feeling in your chest when you’re picking the kids up from school or day care and you’re scrolling through your to-do list in your mind? Pack lunches, make dinner, finish that report for work, fold the laundry, call the plumber… then you realize that your child has been telling you about something awesome they learned at school, but you haven’t heard a word of it. Ugh.

That feeling sucks and I’m going to try my best to be mindful and appreciate the small moments with my kids. If they want to watch a cool bug for 20 minutes while we’re out for a walk, I’ll get my work done when they’re asleep. Those are the moments you never get back.

  1. Yells less and hugs more

I’m not proud that I sometimes yell at my kids. I hate it. But now that I look back on the sheer amount of stress and pressure that I had in my life in the past few years, I can see why I did it. My emotional bucket was full to the brim and every extra drop made it overflow. I’ve been feeling so much calmer in the past couple of months and my hugs have been much more frequent than my outbursts. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep it that way. Exercise, meditation, phone chats with friends and other self-care practices will help me get there. 

  1. Sees the opportunities for learning in everyday life

One morning about a month into lockdown, I was out for a walk with my girls. “What’s THAT!?” I heard one of my twins exclaim. I looked down to see a long chain of fuzzy caterpillars making its way across the sidewalk. I cursed myself for not bringing my phone to take photos and google the strange phenomenon.

But then I realized that a beautiful learning opportunity was right there in front of me and I asked my girls why they thought the caterpillars had formed a chain. “They’re going for a walk” said one and “They’re trying to find food” said another. When we got home, we looked it up and found that the caterpillars were on a mission to find a good place to bury themselves in the ground and form cocoons. The girls were so excited to tell their dad what we’d seen and I was so grateful for that unforgettable moment in the school of life.

  1. Says “no” to too many commitments

No, I can’t be on the PTA. No, we can’t go out to dinner on Saturday. No, I won’t be able to meet that deadline. No, we can’t fit in a play date this week. The world won’t stop turning because I don’t say “yes” to everything, but my family’s world will turn a little slower and everyone will be happier.

  1. Embraces mess and chaos

With five of us working, homeschooling and playing from home full-time, the house was a disaster. By the end of the day, the floors were covered in toys and costumes, the bathroom looked like a bomb had gone off in it, and a disturbing number of apple cores were strewn around the house. I’m far from being a neat freak, but this level of chaos would normally make me anxious. Not during COVID, though – my little helpers banded together at the end of every day and helped me clean it all up. The lockdown taught my daughters a sense of responsibility for the state of our home and brought us together as a family. 

  1. Posts “real” moments online

Although I’ve been posting about the real and raw moments of parenthood on my professional Facebook page for years, I really enjoyed seeing more people abandon filters and fake positive attitudes in favor of real photos and genuine emotions during COVID-19. It made me want to continue my quest to be as real as possible (even if it makes me uncomfortable as hell at times) because I know it’s a great life lesson for my daughters.

I’m not going to be a perfect mom when life goes back to normal, but I hope I can keep parenting from the heart because that’s all my children really need from me. And the truth is that I need it too…

 

 

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