Pockets of Joy
Parenting is hard period. But parenting during a pandemic, while also trying to work from home, is a different kind of monster. It is nearly impossible to describe. I love spending time with my children and feeling their presence each and every day however, having them home all day can be a bit much.
When school was in session and work occurred in the office there was a separation. The children were being entertained at school or daycare and were able to socialize with their friends. The boys expended their energies outside of the home and so parenting was a lot easier because we could just be their parents. Now, though, we have to be their parents, their teachers, their friends, and their entertainment. How can we fulfill these roles while also attempting to juggle work and life? How can we remain sane? All of us, the children included.
This is where video games, screens, and phones come in.
Every day I feel shame and guilt about allowing my boys to play on their Nintendo's for hours. I feel ashamed because I do not want to be judged or criticized for the amount of hours they spend interacting with friends over a never ending game of Fortnite. In order to get my work done, I need them to be engaged in a game. I can not attempt to entertain them while I also attempt to make phone calls and type progress notes for all my clients. In the midst of all that, I also have to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and be readily available to provide snacks throughout the entire day. It's madness.
For a long time, or for as long as this damn pandemic has been going on, which feels like an an eternity at this point, I beat myself up because I wasn't able to connect with my children for most of the day. Yes, we're all home, but we're also trying to cope with the insanity the best way we can; which means we're all distracted by our own coping mechanisms most of the time. I still beat myself up and cringe when people ask what the boys are up to and I have to admit that they are playing video games. I am learning to accept that "It is what it is". This is what works for us at the moment and we're all just trying to make it out alive and relatively sane.
What I have learned to do is create pockets of joy for us as a family. First and foremost, I self-care by practicing yoga, reading, and/or writing. These tiny moments of joy keep me from completely losing my marbles on a daily basis. As far as the kids go, I ensure to read to them or watch a family show we all enjoy. We cuddle in their beds and discuss any topic they're curious about. At times, I am so exhausted by this point that I just want to rush to my own bed but I don't. This moment with my children is by far the most important for me as a Mother. This is how we connect. This is where I learn about who they are and what they like, as well as, what kind of questions they have. This moment, is where all is forgiven. This is the moment of redemption. This is where we all apologize for being rude or mean throughout the day or for yelling and misbehaving. This is the moment where we hug, kiss, and love on each other hard. This is a major pocket of joy.
Other times, we squeeze in a puzzle, a game of trivia, a mindful coloring activity, or just go for joy rides to McDonald's for Happy Meals and Sundaes. For the most part, we try to do the best that we can to ensure our children know they are loved and that we do want to spend time with them even when it doesn't seem like it.
Last week we decided to go for a ride late in the evening. We redeemed a free pizza coupon I received in the mail and went to our favorite park in Elizabeth, NJ. We enjoyed our pizza and took silly pictures just as the sun graced us with it's last rays of the day. We laughed, walked, talked, and then returned home. This was a tiny pocket of joy.
As we begin to wrap up the summer, I can't help but be saddened by the fact that these tiny pockets of joy will be hard to come by when remote learning begins and we're forced to remain indoors due to the cold. I am almost fearful of how challenging virtual learning will be and how it'll affect us emotionally. However, I want to remain hopeful and positive about our new circumstances. This will be a difficult feat but if we can remember to create just one pocket of joy a day, I think we'll get by just fine.
I pray that we do.