To say that these past weeks have been “challenging” would be the understatement of my lifetime. I’ve been the cheerleader of my family when it comes to safety, normality, and hope. That last one is getting dimmer, and dimmer, and dimmer, and dimmer.
When this whole COVID mess started back in February I knew it was something to worry about and I even canceled a pretty significant Twiniversity work trip out of an abundance of caution. (Side note, if I never utter those words again, I’d be thrilled). My mom lives with a terminal illness and I’m with her daily and the wounds of my dad passing was still very much open and fresh and I didn’t want to leave her. I was scared, confused and yet somehow I was looked to by every member of my family to steer them into the new world as if I’d know what to do.
So here we are, weeks and weeks into the “new world” and there isn’t a shoreline in sight. The past weeks have been filled with division, uncertainty, and even more questions than I’ve ever had before.
As a NY’er we were the first hit with this raging pandemic in the US. There was an all-out war and NY was under attack. Not by planes flying into buildings like my last war, but by this mystery cough that was invading my tough city and taking people down one by one. We’ve personally lost 10 friends and family members during this time. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve sent sympathy baskets, handmade sympathy cards (stores? what are those?) and made phone calls I’d never want to make. This has been horrible. I know some of you don’t know one person that’s even had this virus yet and haven’t lost one person, consider yourself VERY VERY lucky.
My scrappy city took weeks to recover. We’ve lost thousands of my fellow NY’ers and the most vulnerable souls were fighting for their lives and my twins were like “What are you making for dinner?” While they are old enough to know what’s happening, they are still a bit too young to know I was crying in the bathroom in minutes before and they still believe me when I say my eyes are red and puffy from allergies.
I’m a mess. From top to bottom. If you aren’t, I need to know what you’re doing. I’m not a full-time mess, but a “part-time with an option for extra hours” type mess. I can get through most days moving from task to task completing each mission as if I NEEDED to. Laundry to dishes. Dishes to email. Emails to podcasts. Podcasts to editing. Editing to lunch. Lunch to meetings. Meetings to laundry and round and round I go.
Yes, I get up each day. Yes, I’m exercising daily. Yes, I’m drinking enough water. Yes, I’m eating great (better than typical for my whole family). Yes, I’m sleeping enough (7+ hours a night) HECK, I even meditate thanks to the free modules HeadSpace has given NY’ers, but STILL….here I sit Part-time mess with an option for extra hours.
Daily, yes daily, I think about what my kids will think about this time in history and how much more they can take without breaking. As I always say on Twiniversity, you have to be a used car salesman with your kids. “How can I get these green beans in you today?” lol. BUT, how many times can I say “No, you can’t see your friends, I don’t care what XYZ is doing, that’s not what we do. I’m sorry.” or “It’s going to be ok, yes it will be different, but different can be ok too.” or “The silver lining during all this is the time we got to spend together.” Yeah, not a big consolation for 15 year old twins. AND it’s official, my heart is starting to break FOR them. When will they see their friends, how will they ever hold a boy/girl friends hand? What about their first kiss? How will that go without them being scared of dying from it? See what I mean. I spiral. I just added on those optional extra hours.
For those of you with “littles” as I so wonderfully call them, you can often throw on a show, print out some coloring pages, make up a silly song about washing your hands, but I can’t fool these kids. They see right through me (except that allergy thing I mentioned above). They know I’m freaking out a bit. My temper is a bit shorter and the fake smile I have on my face is wearing me out.
So yeah, I’m worried. I’m stressed and you know what, I’m not alone. Odds are, if you are reading this, you’re stressed too. Twiniversity is built on three big pillars over here, Knowledge, Humor and Community. The community end of our site is where my heart really lies and I know that my community has my back.
So why this message. And why today? Well, I’m going to turn over a new leaf. I’m making some changes based off things I’ve read that I think would work in my home. Ready to know what they are? It doesn’t matter if you are ready, I’m telling you anyway.
- “It’s ok to be sad. This super sucks.” No more, “it could be worse”, I’m just ripping off the bandaid and admitting this is the crappiest thing that we will have to live through, I PRAY, and it’s ok to not see the silver lining every second of every day. I don’t want the kids to have to ALWAYS find joy in things. Sometimes they just suck.
- NO MORE DISCONNECTING FROM EACH OTHER. I have a habit, a bad one. When I can’t deal with something I withdraw for a minute. Not a long time, but I always withdraw and that gives me time to figure things out. I have to actually SCHEDULE time to withdraw each day and give myself permission to process. The kids will have this time too, but after that time is up, we need to connect again. Cards, board games, and movie nights on a regular basis no matter how they fight me. I literally got into an argument yesterday with my daughter who doesn’t want to “feel forced” to play cards. Ummmm yeah. We’re playing. Get over it. It’s one of those things that with parenting teens, you have to give them space, but not too much space and know when to just draw them close. I’m going to close route and see how that goes for a bit.
- “CALL YOUR GRANDMA”. They will now be “forced” to call people daily, like it’s their job. They are part of a bigger picture here and we went from living with our extended family to just being solo away from our the heart of our home. DAILY. (ooooh they are going to hate this one) They need to call their grandparents and extended family. Not all at once, but each day they can pick a person and call em. For the seniors who are in my family, many of them are alone, by choice. You can’t force a 90 year old to live with you when she’s safe and happy in her own space. BUT you can force your twins to check on her daily. Doing this will not only be great for the kids to know that life exists outside of their four walls, but that they can still make someone smile from miles and miles away.
- “Get ready to bring on the hugs.” Whenever I pass them, I’m going to hug them. This is funny because it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but try it and see how many hugs you can give a day. It will make them smile and the physical human contact is good for everyone
- “Set an example”. I get up, I work out, I have a good breakfast. It’s time they do the same. Sometimes kids can get in a rut, even the littles. Create a routine and stick to it for five days. See how it goes and see what can be modified and change it but get right back to a schedule.
- “No Excuses”. We’ve explained to the kids that they can either look back on this time in their life as a deprivation tank of misery or they can use the time to do something practical. They can learn an instrument, a language, or just brush up on their math skills. That last one was a joke by the way, my twins are NOT going to be doing any bonus math anytime soon.
No matter what I’m going through, and holy moly guacamole, I’m going through a lot. I’m still the captain of this ship and even captains need a minute to process. I’m done processing for TODAY. Tomorrow is another day with more to process, but for now, I’ll get above deck and drive this ship to shore. This could take another year (yup, don’t say I didn’t warn you) and if it does, I’ll figure it out day by day like I’ve been doing since February.
I hope this helps give you guys a little comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone in feeling stressed or confused. We can do this. We can do it right. We can do it together.