both are true. and we ask ourselves this question often.
but when we think about:
- an infant who had torticollis and required weekly, then bi-weekly, then monthly PT to help stretch and strengthen his neck
- that same infant who also was fitted for and wore a helmet for 22 weeks which required at least monthly check ins with a provider who was always 25 mins late and always took 45-60 mins, no matter that we were the only patient in the waiting room
- that same infant then somehow presented a peanut + tree nut allergy the same weekend I was sick with covid, requiring a trip to the ER for him and now a very expensive EpiPen prescription
- a toddler doing normal toddler emotive things more frequently that bring with it lots of yelling, screaming and tears
- that same toddler who really struggled with the transition to a twin bed and refusing to stay in bed or go to sleep, requiring one parent to man his bedroom door for 30-60 mins for a 4-5 month period
- that same toddler who wasn’t going to sleep on time also believing that the moment there’s light in the sky, it’s time to get up for the day – a habit we can’t seem to break before daylight savings so… pray for us when the Denver sun soon rises at 525a
- a new daycare that closes for federal holidays, just like my company, which means my work holidays aren’t actually downtime
- a busy babysitter who we’ve had sporadic success aligning calendars to grant us some much needed non-parenting time off together
these aren’t covid things. these are normal parenting things. working parent things.
does the stress of the pandemic – and daycare closures and high anxiety about every runny nose and wondering if that little cough will mean a call from school to come pick up our kid and a dearth of family friendly things to do in the city on weekends and using extreme caution around seeing friends/family to keep ourselves and our community safe and continually wondering WHEN THE HELL WILL THERE BE A VACCINE FOR MY CHILDREN – help the situation? hell no. but this exercise helped me/us realize, even without the pandemic, we’d probs would have felt stretched thin these last 12 months.
and make no mistake, this is not a complaint. this is not a cry for empathy or compassion. in the grand scheme of the parenting-in-a-pandemic crisis, we are on the easier side of this shitshow with access to (mostly open) daycare, sick time/paid leave at our jobs, health insurance, flexible and supportive employers, a house we own.
not all days are hard. some days and moments are truly delightful. and we can see longer moments of reprieve on the horizon – graduation from a helmet, slightly less ongoing anxiety around anaphylaxis, a slightly older toddler who has grown out of the ‘goofing off at bedtime’ stage (for now), little boys who make each other laugh at the dinner table – and we savor these when they come our way.
because even when the pandemic ‘ends’ or at least fades into a blip of a bullet point update on NPR news roundup, we know parenting will still be prone to (long?) periods of intensity. and shifting my mindset from ‘this will all be fixed when the pandemic is over!’ to ‘sure, this will feel better but it will probably still be hard!’ is v helpful as we inch closer to the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.
things will be better. things may still be hard. regardless, there will still be moments of delight even when it’s hard. and we’ll get through it, one foot in front of the other.