Over the past few weeks, I have spent a good amount of time reflecting on how I will talk to my children about this quarantined pandemic. My brain spins with the many ways it has affected me as a person, but more importantly, me as their mother.
I know my kids will have some memories of their own to look back on, but I still can’t help but wonder what I will say if they ask me about my perspective on this experience.
I undoubtedly will remember the anxiety that gripped me watching our entire world come to a halt with schools canceled, social gatherings ended and local businesses closed. Along with the tears I shed silently in the shower because of the terror I felt for our future health and the health of everyone around me.
I will think about grocery shopping with face masks and gloves, coming back drenched in fear that I would bring the virus home to my family. And the countless wipes I used wiping down every container and surface after they were unpacked.
I will definitely recall all the comfort junk-food I ate, and in turn, the weight I inevitably gained. Along with the fact that I rarely showered or got dressed in more than sweatpants.
I will recount how my only real way to escape was to start running. It was not something I had planned or even wanted, but it was a necessity to simply get away.
I will cringe as I remember the juggling act of managing working from home and helping our kids with school. The days felt endless setting up Google classrooms so we could take conference calls in the closet, and responding to emails while we simultaneously worked on math problems.
My heart will break as I remember how much I missed my parents, family and friends, because as hard as you try, there really is no virtual replacement for a hug.
I know without hesitation I will think about the countless prayers I sent out into the universe for the healthcare workers that were risking their lives to save others. And the consuming grief I felt over hearing the stories of people who had to die alone in their beds with only a virtual goodbye from their loved ones. I will remember the pain, heartbreak and feelings of helplessness.
I will think about the countless hours of brain-melting screen time that my kids were subjected to, and then the dinners where we forced our kids to sit with us when they wanted to be anywhere but there.
I will recount the many rainy spring days where we were stuck indoors, taking away the one freedom we still had to go outside.
My heart will sink as I remember my children’s tears over missing their cousins, their soccer games, their teacher or even their ability to go to the playground. Their sorrow over the things they missed will be the most painful memory of them all.
Now, I know I am allowed to remember all of these things, but as their mother, that does not mean that these memories have to be what I choose to tell them.
I will tell them how lucky we were to get to be home together. That we did our best to soak up every minute we had as a family while we were staying safe at home. I will explain that although the future was a little blurry, this uncertainty also brought on hope of a better future.
I will explain how lucky we were to still be able to shop both in person and online, and that although there were limitations, we were never without enough food or necessities.
I will talk about how I threw my diet out the window and stopped worrying about make-up. That I only dressed for comfort every day and started running again to clear my head.
I will emphasize how thankful we were to be working from home with them when so many had lost their jobs. And that school was remote, but that they were still able to learn and grow at home with us.
I will talk about how people like doctors and nurses became modern-day superheroes, and we all found a new appreciation for people like grocery store cashiers, delivery people and small businesses.
I will tell them about the Friday movie nights we started, and the way they loved to play together on the new gaming system we had bought. I will talk about the board games we played, pictures we colored, science experiments completed and forts we made.
I will remind them about how we started dinner-time traditions where we ate as a family and discussed our favorite parts of the day. And also I will tell them about the time we spent outside on those beautiful sunny days, jumping on the trampoline, riding our bikes, going on nature walks and doing yard projects.
I will absolutely share with them that missing people and events was natural, but for everything we lost during that time, we gained back in the added time we spent together.
I will give them the memories they deserve to hear, because although there were times that I was scared and overwhelmed, most of our time spent together was really fantastic and worth remembering.
But above all I will try to always remind them that we were lucky because we were healthy, safe, and together, and during a global pandemic, that really is all that matters in the end.