This topic has been in my mind for weeks. I couldn’t quite figure out how to post it without being a bitch and to be honest, I’m not actually sure I achieved that. For a while, I tried to calm down. But the rage kept building. I considered just turning this into a rant, but I never did. Maybe angry internet isn’t my thing? I also considered letting it all go and working through this as my own issue. However, I couldn’t ignore it. Not only did my mind continue to wander back here, but feeling was being expressed around me in groups from other moms like me. If nothing else, I created this blog to help me, and others like me, to feel normal about our situations. So you see, I couldn’t ignore this one.
For everyone going stir crazy and grieving the loss of normal life, this is what I want you to know.
It’s OK to be Upset
It is perfectly reasonable to not only miss your normal life, but to actually mourn it. It’s a loss to your sense of self and your sense of your place in the world. It may seem overwhelming. You likely will have more anxiety than you have before. You may start to be irritable because you have lost all control of your life. For me this manifests as becoming irrationally mad at little things I should be able to control – like whether my tablespoons and teaspoons are in separate slots in the silverware drawer.
This is normal. I know because it’s what happened when my twins were born far too early. It’s what happened when I was told my youngest son might never walk, talk, or do anything independently. It’s what happened both times I was told one of my daughters had cancer.
Everything I knew about my life and my family had been ripped out from under me. My world was rocked and I was vulnerable in a way I had never felt before. Basically a part of my reality had died suddenly, without warning. And when something ends, you grieve.
It’s All Relative
This is the point where I struggle the most. I have a hard time putting myself in other people’s shoes. I can do it, but it usually is after my knee-jerk reaction to roll my eyes. Sorry.
There Is A Benefit to All This
This last point is the biggest because to me, this is the thing I want to stress the most.
Yes, of course there is the benefit of safeguarding your health and the health of your family. And there is the benefit of flattening the curve so our health system can actually meet the need of the infected. But there is another benefit that you didn’t even know about. Ready?
EVERYONE IS IN THE SAME BOAT
Might not seem like much, but those things you are missing are the things everyone is missing. That concert you bought tickets for months ago. That has been rescheduled. Everyone who has tickets is missing it. The performer is missing it. So you won’t actually miss out on it. It’s not like you missed a big event that still happened and you only were able to see it from other people’s social media posts.
That trip you couldn’t take. No one else is taking that trip. Your cruise won’t sail on without you. Mickey and Minnie won’t be hugging other people’s children instead of your’s. Everything everywhere is shut down.
Birthdays and holidays, this is the year no one can celebrate together. It’s not like you will have to video call you into your daughter’s birthday so you can see her open gifts surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Those parties aren’t even an option. So you see, you aren’t really missing out.
This year will just go down as the year no one could do anything. Everyone will have these memories, just like my great-grandparents had the Great Depression, my grandparents had war rations, and my parents had gas rations (although this may have just been a thing where they lived).
It might not seem like a benefit, but from where I sit, it’s a huge benefit.
When your child lands in the hospital for a long time, you also will miss things previously planned. You’ll miss birthdays and holidays. You’ll have to cancel trips. Except the world continues to function without you.
Living in quarantine you don’t have explain to your children why they can’t play sports this year while all their friends can because you don’t have the energy to figure out how to get them to practices and games while you stay with a hospitalized child and your spouse continues to work because you don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes you family’s health insurance. You have the added advantage of no one playing anything this season.
You only have to deal with the stress of quarantining in your home. While all the streaming services drop new programming as quickly as they can to help keep you entertained. You don’t have to deal with the stress of being removed from the world, while also dealing with the stress that goes along with confronting your own child’s mortality. You aren’t spending your isolation next to a child you were told might not survive the night.
Basically, quarantine didn’t remove you from the world. You still can identify with what others are experiencing. The challenges of distance learning. The challenges of finding toilet paper and disinfectant at the store. Quarantine changed the world, not you.
Be Extra Considerate When Interacting with a Medical Mom
I know quarantine is hard, even if I am having a hard time understanding why. I’m trying to understand your plight with more compassion. However, before you tell me how hard it is to stay in your home and watch Netflix; remember this:
- I have missed entire chunks of my life because of my children’s ailments.
- I missed my sprinkle for my twins because they were born a few days prior and then the day before the scheduled event I was told one may not make it through the night, and if he started to decline did we just want to keep him comfortable, or did we want heroic measures.
- I have lived in a hospital room for months at a time with a preschooler who wants me attached to her hip while she watches cartoons 24 hours a day because chemotherapy makes her feel like crap.
- I had to video call my family to watch my 10-year-old blow out her candles and open gifts. In fact, in our family of six, the last four birthdays have been celebrated while in the hospital.
- I missed school concerts because I was in the hospital with one child, while someone else was performing on stage.
Remember that I have missed a lot while the world continued to function. I’ve felt like an outsider looking in for a long time. I can’t even fully appreciate all the quarantine experiences because I have been in a hospital room for the entire quarantine period. And I just can’t understand why you think staying in your home is so hard.
I’m not alone with these thoughts. I’ve heard them echoed in closed groups from moms, who like me, have spent a lot of time in hospitals with their children and no longer feel like they are apart of the world. Try to recognize it could be worse.
Healthcare and grocery workers, I can’t begin to imagine the stress you are under balancing duty, your ability to provide for your families, and the risk you assume every shift you work. I’m totally OK if you want me to quit my whining. I know my plight isn’t confronting this thing head on, all day every day, and watching people die. Thank you for all you do.