I was passing through the living room today and saw the piles of books on the bottom shelf of my coffee table. I put them there months ago with a plan. I categorized them (fiction, financial, health, writing, and parenting). For a short time before the pandemic started, I would take one day a week when the kids were at school and set aside time to read. My goal was to get through as many of the books as I could so I could watch the piles slowly diminish. Then came the pandemic.
Most moms know how difficult it is to get in any time to read or watch just a few minutes of their favorite show in the evening. Once the day is over with the kids, there are many hours more of work and tasks to complete. For me, this is particularly salient, as a single mom of four kids, who also writes a daily blog. The pandemic has only worsened the situation. Since being quarantined, I cannot get anything done during the day with the kids home, so my evenings are completely about working, until midnight, most nights. Although I try to get through the newspaper every day, reading books is a luxury that I can rarely indulge in these days.
As I passed the piles of books in the living room, I picked up the parenting ones, many of which I had already started months ago. I lamented the days when I was able to sit quietly during the day, if only for a few hours, and read them. That got me thinking not only about the loss of my own time and of being able to read my parenting books but also of the loss of the parent I was before this crisis hit.
My mind went to the analogy of being a soldier in combat versus one in military training. Before the pandemic, I was a parent-in-training, as I think all of us are. I would read books and try new parenting methods out when the kids got home in the late afternoon or on the weekends. My goal was always to create a more harmonious environment for all of us.
I would reflect on areas where I was felt weak (my short fuse, for example) and try to gain knowledge so that I could do better. I was alone all day, during the week, allowed to recharge my battery. By the time the kids returned, I felt recharge enough to put some of these new ideas and methods into practice. Sometimes they worked, and sometimes they didn't, but I was always growing as a parent.
COVID-19 threw me into battle mode overnight. All the things I was aspiring to do to make me a better parent, before the quarantine, (not a perfect parent, but a better parent), went right out the window. No longer did I have any time to myself to recharge. Forget the frivolity of reading a book during the day and strategizing on how I might implement new ideas for my family. Instead, I shipped off to battle on March 13th, where I have remained ever since.
Like me, soldiers in combat don't have time to indulge in much of anything. It is about staying alive, protecting their comrades, and getting through each moment. If there is a moment here or there to let their guard down and get a little sleep, that's considered a good day in battle.
There have been so many moments and days during this pandemic (my battle) where I wish I could have handled myself better. But like a soldier, I don't have time to strategize nor philosophize when the enemy is coming at me. My only job is to keep myself and my fellow soldiers alive. If there was a way to measure adrenaline, I venture a guess that like a soldier's, mine would be off-the-charts.
I miss the days when I had the luxury of time to myself, which in turn afforded me more patience with my children. I miss when they could go off for the day, do something enjoyable such as school or camp, and I would have time to myself to get my work done, or better yet, enjoy a book on how to be a better mother. I can only hope this battle will be over soon so that I can return to those dusty books on the shelf, as well as to the pursuit of being a better parent.
Summer Study Time in the morning.
Miles, Purveyor of Fine Foods. Thank you Lakeshore!
The kids playing "Store" with Miles. He enjoyed every minute as he raked in all their cash.
Real Dinner: Tri Tip on the BBQ - medium rare and so delicious!
Sides: Sautéed Spinach, Sweet Summer Corn and Green Peas.