As soon as the coronavirus started rapidly spreading, I started to panic. I panicked even more when, while the kids and I were at my mom’s house for Spring Break, the schools across the state starting closing. When lines wrapped around grocery stores. When my husband started to worry about business. What really bothered me the most is that I had to be with the kids at home 24/7 with virtually no breaks. I wasn’t trying to be selfish but I was worried about my fickle mental health. I tried to put a brave face on but no matter how hard I tried, the uncertainty and chaos had already sneaked inside their little lives.
The first things I noticed were changes in Eli. Usually, when I put him to bed I could sing him a song, tell him goodnight and he’d be out by 6:30 pm. When we returned to our home, Eli was afraid of the dark and wouldn’t go to bed without me. Then he started waking during the night. Now he’s up around 5:30 am, despite having an alarm clock that lets him know when he can get out of bed.
And that’s not all. Eli has started to hit – he’ll hit his sister, me and even his dad. One time he hit me so hard he knocked my glasses off and I spanked him. I cried so hard after that. We don’t even believe in spanking but I was at a loss. It was after that I started thinking – this virus has wreaked havoc on all our lives. It’s stressful no matter who you are or what you do. I know how stressful and anxiety-inducing it is for me but I hadn’t really thought about how this situation affects our children.
These sweet children are experiencing something that not even parents have been through. They’re out of routine. They miss their teachers and friends. Older ones are worried about high school graduation and and lamenting the fact they likely won’t return to their school. Some kids are experiencing death of their loved ones without ever having said goodbye. It’s depressing to think about but it is the reality of many. These are dark times.
No matter how old your children are, they’re still kids (or young adults). We all have to dig deep and find the resolve to create a safe place – to be their safe place. I’m not saying never share what’s going on in the world with them but if they do act out, and I’m guessing many will, we have to let them fall apart and put them back together again.
As a mom with depression who has “vacationed” at a psychiatric facility, I’ve seen very dark times. I’ve been scared. But nothing scares me more than thinking my children could get lost in the “dark” – the uncertainty and depressing road the weary world is traveling right now. So, of course I’ll stick to my mental wellness plan and I’ll take care of myself. Because I have to. I will protect my tender-hearted babies from the dark until my dying days.