When social distancing was first put into place and our government told us to refrain from gatherings of five or more people, I wasn’t exactly sure how long it would last. I’ve always had a feeling that it would continue until the summer or early fall and so far it seems as though that’s the route we will be taking. I would be lying if I said these past two months have been easy and although I’m extremely grateful to be off work as a nurse right now, there are definitely days where I feel like sobbing by bedtime.
I’ve never been one to struggle with my mental health. Yes, there were times in college when school stress sometimes got to me but other than that I have always functioned well under pressure or in new situations; until now. I’ve realized that since the pandemic first started, I’ve felt as though I’ve been teetering on a ledge and could fall off at any moment. When the government stated schools would be closed for two weeks following March Break, I watched the news like a hawk. I knew all the stats, I knew exactly what was said at each press conference, I texted multiple friends updating them on the situation several times; I literally couldn’t stop myself. It was the only way I felt as though I could control my newly peaking anxiety; by knowing ALL the facts that were being told to us, I felt like I could manage and get through this. But day after day after day of hearing the same things and seeing the infection rate and then death rate rise, I realized that this was no longer a healthy coping mechanism for me. It felt like I was starting to spiral and become obsessed with the news. It affected my mood and my behaviour; I felt angry, sad and frustrated, just to name a few emotions. It constantly felt like there was a cloud of negative energy around me, which also affected my kids and their emotions too.
Nathan has always been a more “sensitive” child. He feels things strongly and can be very emotional at times over nothing. It’s something that I’ve heard from his teachers before and have witnessed first-hand on multiple occasions. He is all heart and quickly picks up on the emotions and feelings of others around him. And right now, he misses his extended family which to him also includes his school, his teachers, and his friends; and because he can’t always articulate that since he’s only five and a half, it can come out as a meltdown over the smallest of issues. There are days where he’s cranky and irritable and frankly, acts more like a toddler than a school-aged child which typically causes me to become “fed-up” or “ragey” mom; where I’m just SO TIRED of dealing with his constant meltdowns, that instead of sitting down and calmly talking them out with him and looking for a solution, I end up yelling at him. Neither of us like that version of me as a mom but unfortunately she has come out more often than not due to this pandemic. I’ve tried my hardest to explain the current situation to him as best as I can but when he asks why I’m the one not allowing him to go to school, see his friends and family, etc it breaks my heart a little bit. I know this is all for the best but he doesn’t and feeling like he’s blaming me for it all definitely has made me feel like a crappy mom some days.
Then there’s poor Eli; I tend to forget that Nathan was fairly independent at the same age Eli is now and that perhaps not all (almost) three year old’s are able to entertain themselves as much as Nathan was able to. I guess even at a young age, when there’s only one child in the house, they learn quickly how keep themselves busy. So while yes, Nathan was able to do things with little to no assistance, that does not mean Eli can or should be expected to which is something I need to remind myself of constantly when he’s becoming hysterical because he doesn’t know how to open the toy box, put a new t.v. show on, or get his undies down to use the potty. He’s also unfortunately witnessed the not-so-nice version of me as a mommy and again, it’s something I’m not proud of.
I know deep down in my heart that I’m a good mom. I love these three kids more than anything else on this Earth and I would do anything to keep them safe and happy but some days are just plain hard and it’s o.k. to admit that. It’s o.k. to say that I haven’t been my best self during this pandemic. It’s o.k. to yell, cry, and vent to friends and family about how being “trapped” in a house with two rambunctious boys and a baby sometimes makes me want to pull all my hair out. It’s o.k. to admit that there are days when I feel like a complete and total failure as a mother. But what’s not o.k. is allowing those days and feelings to become the normal.
I’ve realized during all of this, that one bad day doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. I know Nathan is old enough that he will most likely remember this time when he’s grown and my hope is that, even if he does remember the days where I wasn’t the best mom version of myself, he also remembers the days where I let him stay in his pajamas as long as he wanted or how he and I would “sneak” treats in the pantry so that Eli and Sage couldn’t see (even though I would always give Eli a treat of his own afterwards) or how he and his brother would chase each other around the house in circles laughing hysterically the entire time.
Yes, my mental health hasn’t been the greatest since the pandemic first began and I’m well aware that we will have a few more bumps and “bad days” ahead of us, but I’m o.k. acknowledging that now and I’ve been learning new ways to keep myself under control so that I don’t constantly feel like I’m losing my temper with them. Two months in and probably a few more to go but we’re managing and hanging in there. I love these kids with my whole heart and I really am blessed to have this one on three time with them.