Moms, how are you coping and parenting during the Covid-19 quarantine? We’ve had to wear many hats during the pandemic; homeschooler/teacher, mom, referee, coach, therapist, entertainer, chef, along with employee for some, on top of everything else. This is how one mom is struggling with the “new normal”.
Written by Shelly Khushal
I have been struggling. And this is hard for me to say. I am the one that always has it together… the one helps people keep it together… the one that sees the positive in things and fundamentally believes that if something bad happens, it is always for a reason, and that a blessing inevitably follows. You don’t have to buy into this. It is my philosophy and has worked well for me over the course of my life.
So then why am I struggling?
Life as we knew it is no more. And like any loss, there is a mourning or grieving period. Sure, it is sad that I can’t grocery shop like I normally would, or dine at my favourite restaurant or host parties at home. This is one aspect, but it is deeper than this. It is something that has taken me eight weeks at home to fully come to terms with. And that is…
The loss of self.
For a person who is highly independent, and whose identity is based on this autonomy, it is hard to come to terms with the lack of freedom: the freedom of personal space, the fact that there is no clear delineation between private and public, between home and work. This for me has been most challenging.
Up until a few weeks ago, I worked outside the home. I would (unconsciously) put my ‘worker’ hat on and engage in the social aspects of the work environment: attend committee meetings that challenged me, chat with co-workers, take walks with friends etc.
And when the day would end, I would switch to ‘mommy/wife’ mode. That clear distinction of roles and spaces provided me the fuel to be able to tackle the magnitude of things required of me. I was a better parent for it.
Now here we are – working from home, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning – all in the same place – with no separation…
No separation of the physical OR the mental.
While coping with the challenges of the world, the restrictions, the social distancing, we are also faced with this loss of self. And this is not something openly talked about. It seems selfish to think of ourselves in this way – we are busy worrying about our jobs, our kids, our bills, our health, the health of our aging parents. And these are all important. These are necessary. But our individual health and well-being is equally important.
A friend recently said, “I am taking it day by day”. We really have no choice in this matter now do we? We have to take it day by day. For a planner, this is hard…not impossible, but it does require some hard work.
It’s a juggling act.
Every day we are faced with challenges – challenge to meet the demands of work, challenge to meet the demands of educating our kids in a meaningful way, challenge of keeping our children’s minds full of curiosity and their hearts full of hope, and the greatest challenge (in my opinion), challenge of not letting our kids OR our spirits diminish. No pressure there. It is a juggling act, which for some can be hard if you don’t know how to juggle; and for others, hard if you’ve never dropped a ball.
We have heard repeatedly recently, that ‘we are all in this together’. We truly are. We have all come together to experience this global life altering experience. We may be experiencing it differently, but we are all impacted.
There is no one universal way of feeling or coping. Some of us have strong coping methods. Some of us have supportive families to lean on. Some of us are connected to faith groups who keep us connected and engaged. I am grateful I can check off all three of these boxes. This does not mean I don’t hurt or worry. I am figuring out what the ‘new normal’ looks like for me. I am trying to navigate myself in this new way of life.
Through all this, I have learned many things, but one thing I want to share is: we must give ourselves the space to grieve and the compassion to not be okay. It is okay, to not be okay.
Here is a list of resources for vulnerable populations in York Region:
Shelly Khushal has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science & History, and a Masters in Environmental Studies (Microfinance). She is a human rights advocate, author of 2 books, former United Nations Policy intern and is passionate about world issues and children. Shelly@Khushal.ca