The Pandemic Parenting Guidebook

  1. Don’t listen to any one else with parenting advice. Especially parents who have kids who are grown and not living at home. They have never parented hardcore in a pandemic. I say this with love to all the baby boomers. Unless you’re beaming and saying “You’re doing great!” then shut it. With love.
  2. If you decide to send your kids back to school you’re right.
  3. If you decide to keep your kids home you’re right.
  4. If you decide to sign in voluntarily to an inpatient psychiatric unit (yes we are open) then you are also right.
  5. If you decide to have a birthday party for your child and write to the other kid’s parents about the precautions you are taking and let them decide for themselves then you are right.
  6. If you decide to attend a child’s birthday knowing the risks then you are right.
  7. If your kids miss their school/friends/relatives they are not alone and you are doing the best you can to comfort them.
  8. If your kids spend more time on screens than ever before. Don’t sweat it. They will survive. What’s important is that you survive too.
  9. If you randomly break down and cry because you see your kids wearing masks, you see your kids unable to hug a family member, you see your kids entering a new school alone because you’re not allowed in, or any of the crazy experiences parents have never had and never expected to have…you are right. You are entitled to suffer for yourself and for your children.
  10. If you need therapy or an increase in your meds or to restart your meds…do it. You are right. You are valid.

I’ve had so many parenting experiences since March that I never thought I’d have. I’ve had experiences with my own mom I’ve never thought I would have. She and I attended a pandemic funeral. She had never been to a funeral wearing a mask. And honestly for all those people bitching about wearing masks, my mom wears hearing aids. She can’t see people’s mouths now and the masks are wicked uncomfortable around her hearing aids. She still wears them and doesn’t complain. Because she’s not stupid. My four year olds also wear them without complaint. FOUR year olds. So seriously. I can’t.

Parenting is hard on a good day. People say stupid shit about parenting on a good day. “You asked for this,” “This was voluntary”. During a pandemic…Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I wanted to keep the boys home with a baby-sitter for the Summer. Well they revolted and acted like these horrific little creatures I have never met before. They literally forced the baby-sitter out and daily told me they wanted to go back to school. We put them back in school. Then at school we have to contend with all the things of a preschool.

I have to get notes from the pediatrician so they can use lotion sunscreen instead of spray (Spray gave them red raw patches on their necks…so yeah). I have to explain that they can still hug each other at home because they are brothers even though they are taught all day by their teacher to not touch any one because of germs.

I’ve had to explain why I don’t like guns and Black lives matter and one of them actually explained it to me rather cogently the other day, “Mama you don’t like guns because some times the police get the wrong person when they are going after monsters. And they use guns and go…pew pew pew…to the wrong person instead of the monsters.” I mean it’s not a perfect explanation of racism and racial profiling but it’s not bad for a four year old.

We then saw police. Live and in person at a store in the parking lot. The boys both started yelling excitedly about the “guns” and the “monsters”. With their Elsa masks on while I was trying to drag them into Joann Fabrics (to buy more mask fabric) trying not to draw attention to them. As they yelled. About guns.

I’ve been working on making masks in bulk for my niece who is potentially going back to elementary school this Fall. Never in my life did I think that I would be making masks for my niece to go to school. It feels sad.

I’ve been so sick of my kids from working at home and having them home and then I worry about them at preschool being exposed. Being in a place I’ve never been inside of. With teachers who don’t want to put on lotion sunscreen because of the pandemic. Then the boys tell me they are scared to poop at the new preschool because “It’s too small”. I mean what does that even mean?! Do I call the school and ask about the spec’s of the toilets?! Then what if they do poop…teachers who don’t even want to put on lotion sunscreen; are they helping them wipe?!

These are the things on the mind of a parent during a pandemic.

I did bring the boys to a birthday party. The kids are all in their preschool class so they were all kids they were already exposed to and it was outside. It was great. The mom’s and myself and the Dad that was there were all respectful of everyone’s decisions. The kids were stoked to be at a party being normal. And honestly so was I. It was nice to feel normal. I did throw two Elsa masks in with the present for the birthday girl. But other than that we could forget about COVID for a little while.

Not everyone from their class went. And that’s okay.

Parenting pandemic style is like parenting on a good day but you know that point when you’ve been with them for eight hours and you’re counting on your spouse to come through the door and you get a text that they have to stay four hours late for work and you simultaneously want to cry/scream/drop to the floor/tantrum/run away/hide/laugh maniacally….yeah that feeling right when you read that text and your stomach drops…that’s parenting in a pandemic.

So cut yourself some slack. Don’t listen to the “Should’s”. Don’t listen to the negativity and try and remember that the pandemic in 1918 did end. Kids survived and grew up and were not defined by the pandemic. We have hard decisions to make. Don’t underestimate the stress of these decisions. Because there is no right answer.

Going to the birthday party or not going. No right answer. Well, if I were in a state with a massive outbreak then I wouldn’t have gone. But my state is currently doing okay. Oh and I didn’t bring their bathing suits. So yes those were my two sons running naked around the yard through the sprinkler, kiddy pools, and into the moon bounce.

Going to school…no right answer.

Trust your gut. Love your kid. Kiss them good-night. Explain not to scream about guns when they see police officers in a parking lot. And remember there are funny moments. Because kids in general are resilient, balls of energy, and fun. My kids push me beyond my breaking point a lot. But they also bring a smile to my face in times of darkness. They are the light in these dark times. Remember that our youth are our future and they will not be defined by a pandemic. But they will grow into the person you parent during a pandemic.

#COVID-19 · politics

Dear People. 10 Things On My Mind. COVID-19 Journal Entry. Week…17. I counted.

A few things have been on my mind. Maybe 10.

  1. Those memes where people say “I believe in science” irritate me. Science isn’t a belief system. It is fact. The Earth will still rotate without anyone “believing” that it can. The arctic glaciers will still melt as long as we continue to heat up our atmosphere. Germs spread disease. And all humans didn’t magically procreate from two white humans in a garden with a snake. Religion requires faith and belief. Science doesn’t. Science requires discoveries. Humans have to discover scientific facts. We confirm them we don’t magically make them up. The elements in the periodic table existed before the periodic table was developed. They didn’t require a belief system to come into being. When we say we “believe” in science we put it into the same category as a religious faith. They shouldn’t be in the same category. Two very different situations. One based on faith one based on fact. They don’t belong together. Stop saying you believe in science. Say you accept scientific facts as fact. By making it into a “belief” we make it possible for people to “not believe” it and we validate that it’s okay for people to not believe in it. So stop it. Because it exists whether they believe in it or not.
  2. Freaking birth control. Don’t think that Supreme Court decision is anything but a continued war on women’s rights. Do they not cover vasectomies if they don’t cover birth control? Do they not cover ED medications if they do not cover OCP? Vagina’s are scary and penis’ have power. It’s what we are taught to think and believe. Not science. Not fact. Don’t fall for it.
  3. If the 131,000 lives we have lost due to COVID were embryo’s or women’s eggs prior to fertilization…Republicans would be shoving masks on all of us. Apparently pro-life only applies to lives currently or soon to be living in women’s wombs?! I’m not sure. I’ve never been able to get a pro-lifer to explain it to me. I’ve also never been able to get them to explain why they aren’t pro-Brown/Black/immigrant lives if they are “pro-life”. I’ve tried. Believe me I’ve tried. I’ve gotten blocked from a number of “pro-life” platforms for asking such questions. But they still won’t answer even when the freaking block me.
  4. Businesses are either imploding or exploding or staying afloat during COVID. It’s like a marriage for a couple; makes or breaks you. It’s more stressful than I can describe to you. Unless you are a business owner and your family depends on your income you don’t get the stress that I’m referencing. To those of you who do…solidarity and fist pumps. Hang in there. We got this. It’s definitely added an interesting and otherwise unthought of chapter for my “How to open a private practice” novel I’ve been working on. “Surviving a Pandemic in Mental Health” who knew I could write that from firsthand experience?! Living the dream here.
  5. I read this book called “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South” written by a Stephanie Jones-Rogers, a Black woman. I was disturbed by the content. I can’t imagine the painstaking research she had to do and the actual emotional pain she felt while doing it. I don’t like non-fiction as a rule. But this was captivating. Like the car accident you can’t look away from. I was in awe of the research and bibliography. I like research and I appreciate the bibliography and I, unlike most every one, comb through it soaking up the details and pondering where and how she accessed some sources. I felt deep shame at being white. I felt deep pain for all the Black people descended from such abuse. I felt horror at the youth and ages of the women with firsthand accounts of owning and abusing slaves as young as age 3. It made the “Karen” memes so much more than just angry white middle age women. It made the “Karen” stereotype based out of generations of entitled racist white women. I recommend reading it. And everything else so we don’t become another generation of “Karen’s”.
  6. My sons started a new preschool. It’s a fucking pandemic. My wife had toured it a year ago. They had a waitlist. Silver lining of pandemic…finally no waitlist and two spots. But. I had to drop my four year old sons off at a building I couldn’t go inside of with people I had never met, wearing masks so I couldn’t even see their faces. It was the most bizarre and surreal experience of my life. They started Tuesday and both mornings my sensitive one has been asking me to come inside with him. I’ve had to explain I can’t and this morning he looked me right in the eye and said, “Bye Mama” really slow, like he didn’t want to leave me at all. I’ve cried both mornings as I get into the car and drive away. It’s the most helpless feeling I’ve experienced as a parent. Tonight he’s been crying for the past two hours. I finally just let him sleep on the floor in my room like he does when he’s sick (it’s carpeted and we pad it with blankets. He likes being near me and I’m fine with it. Don’t Mom-judge me.) He doesn’t handle transition well and between our cat dying and a new school after being home with us for four months…yeah it’s a bit of a transition. I just feel robbed. I am so grateful to have three days with them at preschool again so I can work from home in the silence. Silence I haven’t heard for four months. But I’m angry. I’m angry I can’t support them through this as well as I normally would.
  7. My cat. We put down Rajha a couple weeks ago because she was sick and dying from cancer. My other cat Maddy. She’s a year or two older than Raj. And I thought she didn’t like Raj. I mean at all. In fact I had to put her on Prozac years ago because Maddy was attacking Rajha. Blood. Bad. I had to bring her to a pet psychic. That actually helped more than the Prozac. Maddy was like a cat on Xanax when we left the pet psychic. Anyway. They tolerated each other. Then Rajha dies. Maddy has been losing it. Wandering around crying. Purring really loud in my ear at 2 AM. Meowing more in the last two weeks than in my entire fifteen years with her. It’s nuts. I may have to bring her back to the pet psychic for more ethereal xanax or whatever ju-ju she did. Then because I’m doing telehealth and most of my clients saw Raj on screen…they have been asking about her. I don’t lie. I say she died. Then I’m like should I really be telling this depressed kid that she died?! I dunno. I’m a horrible liar. So yeah. That’s happening.
  8. I was driving home the other day. Crying from the new preschool. I remember there were kind of a lot of cars on the road and I was like, huh this is new. But then I remembered, no this is what it was like before COVID. Remember life before a pandemic? I remember thinking back in March this was temporary. Life would be “normal” again soon. But it’s not. I miss those days. Normal. Before the pandemic. I mean if I really sit back and allow myself to dig in deep and truly feel in my gut about it…yeah I could be brought to tears with how much I deeply miss those normal days before COVID. It sounds so stupid. Because I’m a New Englander and we adapt and we move forward. Don’t cry. Don’t feel. But I do. I feel it hard. Four months in and I want normal back with an ache so deep I can’t describe it.
  9. I watched Hamilton. I googled a lot during and after. I don’t like surprises so I googled Hamilton’s wikipedia profile during the movie. People in the theater would have hated me had I been able to afford to go. I was in awe of it. Lin Manuel is a genius. So is Renee Elise Goldsberry. They were my two fav’s. Daveed Diggs would be tied maybe though. Everyone was dynamic and powerful. Duels are stupid. I still don’t understand why anyone would partake in one.
  10. Our current administration leads me to the same emotional pain as I experience when contemplating white women slave owners. I never thought I would be so deeply ashamed to be a citizen of our country as I am in these days of 2020. Science is fact. Germs are real. The fact that our President doesn’t accept fact and spins fact and jeopardizes human lives while the same senators who preach pro-life rhetoric sit and watch our people die from the spreading of germs…makes me angry/hurt/resentful/grief/fury.

I’ll close with this. I have a vagina. I’m not afraid of penis’s. I don’t think they have special powers. Neither should you.

I know germs are real. I know disease is real.

I am repulsed by few things but our administration is one of those things. Some one please freaking explain to me how you are pro-life for embryos but not for humans dying of COVID?! Pease. I’m trying to understand your belief system even if it is not based in science. Or facts.

Never mind. Don’t explain it. Just wear a mask and educate yourself.

Science exists. It’s NOT a belief system.

Yup. I yelled at you. All caps. Take it. Sit with it.