It happened this week, and I’m surprised it took 9 weeks for her to crack. I said “no” to something my daughter wanted to do, and the floodgates opened. “Why do you have to take away EVERYTHING that’s fun? We can never do ANYTHING anymore! You’ve ruined EVERYTHING!”
I tried not to take it personally. I know it’s not my fault that there is a pandemic causing us to cancel basically everything we enjoy. But it might be my fault that I’ve let the sparkle that keeps our family going fade away. We started this pandemic with elaborate crafts and face-painting and dance parties. Now our days look a lot more bland – schoolwork, screen time, chores, and fights on repeat.
This pandemic has stolen a lot from us. It has stolen our security and our stability. It has stolen our health – be it physical, mental, or emotional. It has stolen even the most basic things we used to take for granted, like a spontaneous trip to the grandma’s house, a quick trip to the grocery store, or the certainty that school and playing with friends would always be there.
Layer by layer, we have gotten used to things being taken away. But the thing we can’t get used to is the loss of hope and excitement. Our family loves having things to look forward to. This spring, we had a trip to Disney World booked, a First Communion for our oldest, a kindergarten graduation to celebrate, a preschooler that wanted to keep seeing her friends, a toddler with a second birthday coming up. We were looking forward to my sister having a baby and my other sister getting married. My daughter was excited about Girl Scout camp this summer, and the rest of us couldn’t wait for trips to the beach in the summer and swimming in Nana’s pool. All these things have lost their shine as we adjust to things being taken away.
The celebration and joy that keep us going that fill our lives with life are being diminished.
This is not how our family operates. We have countdowns to vacations and holidays. We love to plan and throw parties. We love having things to look forward to. I know that people are struggling with severe loss and the death of loved ones. Obviously, that is painful beyond imagining. I don’t mean to bemoan our relatively grace-filled lives. But in our ordinary days, I have really found difficulty in the loss of hope.
I find myself failing as a mom as my sense of hope fades away. I care less and less about what we accomplish each day as they blur together in one long, rainy mess. Schoolwork feels optional. Screen time feels like a break – and the breaks get longer. We kick around ideas that would feel like a breath of fresh air – getting a puppy or moving to a new place – and realize how unrealistic they are in these uncertain times. It stinks.
And so, I’m compiling a list. I refuse to be beaten down. I will find things to look forward to and to celebrate… not just for me, but for my family. Luckily, May is full of them. Maybe we can’t celebrate with families and parades. But we can surely find a way to make it fun around here. We can plan costumes and fun meals. We can make up new games and have family dance parties. It might seem like it’s only for the kids, but having silly fun is good for us parents too.
What things can you get excited about? How can you infuse some energy into a time that feels so devoid of hope and just plain fun?