Parenting Has Been Challenging During COVID-19, But It’s Been a Gift, Too
“Are the germs still here?,” my 4-year-old son asks nearly every day.
Each time he asks, it hurts me a little more to answer him, because although my husband and I wish so badly that our answer was different, it has remained the same since springtime. It is hard telling him the germs are still here, that he can’t go to his usual favorite places, or go about our usual activities. We have also decided to home-school him for pre-K, and while I am confident in our decision, I still feel a bit sad because he enjoyed going to school and socializing with classmates.
In an effort to get his mind off the pandemic, we recently told my son that we will let him know when the germs are gone.
I also know this period of adjustment can have a negative impact on mental health. In fact, I have felt quite anxious. So even though my son is just 4 years old, I have asked him about how he is feeling. Inviting discussion about how all of this change has made him feel has enabled us to reassure him that his feelings are valid and normal, and that we will try to help find ways for him to still have fun and be happy at home.
While he understands — to an extent — why we can’t live life as we were, and while we try to find fun alternative activities, such as beach sunsets, it is still disheartening having to tell him over and over that the germs are indeed still here and will likely be here for some time.
In an effort to get his mind off the pandemic, my husband and I have recently told him that we will let him know when the germs are gone so he does not have to ask or worry about it every day.
Much to Be Grateful For
I know I am not alone in feeling that this year has been particularly overwhelming as a parent. I believe it helps, however, to acknowledge there has been much to be grateful for, as well.
Although my young son often wonders about the pandemic and has made plans for what he wants to do when it is gone, he still says so many of these days are “the best day,” and that his favorite thing is “being a family.” These are the reminders I need — that maybe we all need — that our days do not have to be fancy or extravagant or anything out of the usual. Some might even be chaotic and stressful. What matters most is that we are trying our best during this unprecedented time. What matters most is the love we give our children. Our love is so much more important than anything we might be “missing” out on. It is love, after all, that carries us through ups and, especially, downs. It is what makes the good great and the bad bearable.
It does not matter where we are as long as we are safe, healthy, loved, and together. That is what matters.