Today I am introducing "Islands Girl" who is sharing her family story during the lockdown.
I could go to nearly any spot on this planet and these words would give me common ground with anyone I met.
I don't think we've ever had something like this. Of course there's parenthood, terminal sickness, strenuous treks and more to relate on - but has there ever been something that spans every country, age, gender and background?
Even though there's common ground, the same virus doesn't mean the same experiences. I have found even in my own neighborhood we have vastly different stories.
I live in Minnesota with my family about 10 miles north of the now empty Minneapolis. My husband and I have been married for almost 8 years, and we have 4 children ages 5, 4, 2 and 1. It has been a whirlwind of children, pregnancies and life. We ended 2019 with the decision to homeschool our oldest for his kindergarten year and then revisit the topic before moving onto his 1st grade year. We were hoping that 2020 would bring some normalcy, some pattern to our lives.
As I know anyone can relate - 2020 has been anything but normal.
Being a stay at home homeschooling mom with young kids wasn't a huge challenge for me. I already stay home with my four kids all day, while my husband works at the county hospital in the eye clinic in downtown Minneapolis. A typical day before lockdown really isn't that different than a typical day now.
There's still poopy butts to wipe, snotty noses to clean, hungry whining mouths to feed sixty trillion times a day, and big emotions to work through.
My husband is considered essential, so he's still at work, and although the paycheck isn't quite as big, we truly can't complain.
So - has lockdown been a breeze for us? No - I wouldn't say that.
While I'm very thankful for the blessings we have, it has been a challenge - I think more for my children than me.
I am a third culture kid - meaning I grew up in multiple countries around the world, calling each my home for a time. Change is as normal to me as wearing clothes or eating food. An unknown future is normal. I grew up being able to only live in each day as it came.
My children, however, are very "first culture" kids - meaning they only know the culture we live in now and it's all they've ever know.
They have their schedules set:
Wake up. Play. Do some school work. Maybe go to a play ground. If it's raining, head to a play area.
Go to MOPS while Mom visits with friends.
Visit the gym and play while Mom works out.
Go home for lunch and naps.
Wake up and play some more while Mom gets dinner ready. Finish school work.
Dad comes home and eat dinner.
On some days there's church where they get to go to Sunday school and see their friends.
My 2 and 4 year old are in speech therapy so Tuesdays the 2 year old has a visit from "Teacher J" and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the 4 year old goes to "speech school."
My 5 year old was enrolled in a nature program at the local nature center on Mondays and Thursdays.
We would often walk to our neighbors to say hi and let the kids play.
All the outside activities are cancelled.
No speech school.
No Teacher J.
No Nature School.
No Sunday school.
No play areas when its raining.
No play grounds.
"Because of the virus."
My 4 year old has told me on multiple occasions "I want to see my friends NOW!"
I understand, Bud.
My MOPS group now meets on ZOOM. One of the things I loved about MOPS was dropping the kids off at child care and grabbing a plate of food to sit and eat in peace. Two hours of kid free me time.
Now, I put the kids in front of the TV while I try to listen to the computer screen talking at me, and trying not to talk over others. Am I thankful for it? Yes, of course. But I miss seeing my friends. I can understand my 4 year old's demands.
Speech has also changed to "online." Trying to explain to a 2 and 4 year old why they can't see their teachers anymore in person is hard. The teachers brought toys and games.
Now, there's a computer screen. Our children have never been "screen kids." I push outside time, imagination and interacting with each other.
As a result, they aren't used to sitting in front of a computer and interacting. Their ability to focus is far shorter than it was in person. Both my husband and I have seen a significant speech regression in both children.
My five year old has said on occasion, "I want the virus to be done."
Yeah, me too.
Even though my husband still has his job, he is being asked to voluntarily leave for at least 2 weeks. He needs to wear face masks and eye coverings. He's checking people in to the hospital rather than doing what he was trained to do - giving eye exams. His hours are all over the place now. Some days he works from 5AM to 2PM. Some days he works 12PM to 6PM. Some days he works the regular 8AM to 3PM. Little changes like that we as adults can take in stride, but its hard for the Littles.
The schedule has changed.
My 4 year old and I had this interaction a couple days ago:
"Daddy didn't say goodbye to me today!"
"I know, Honey, he had to go to work early this morning. He'll give you a hug and a kiss when he gets home today, okay?"
"But," as tears fill my sweet son's eyes, "I really wanted to give him a hug and kiss before he left."
"Let's call him and you can leave him a message, ok?"
So we do, and my 4 year old son needs to leave a tear filled message on his dad's phone because the schedule has been turned upside down. It's hard.
The kids can sense the stress in people around us. Going to the grocery store has been different. In the past, they rush ahead of me to the checkout lane to start bagging our groceries when its our turn - they can't do it anymore.
People avoid eye contact and wear masks. The kids don't understand why and a simple "because of the virus" doesn't help anymore.
Why is there a virus?
Why is it still here?
When will it be done?
When can I see my friends again?
I don't have an answer and that's hard as a Mom.
The kids can sense the stress in our own marriage as we navigate our relationship with no "breaks."
No more date nights.
No more getaways.
No more kid free walks.
Its been hard.
Are there others who are worse off than us? Yes, absolutely.
But why compare? My "hard" is hard, just like your hard. My kids' "hard" is hard, just like mine.
It's ok that it's hard. Because it is. And I don't when it will stop being hard.
If you like what you read checking out https://www.islandsgirladventures.com/ and see what else is going on ,
Hi, I'm Marcie Kenny, the women behind this blog. I am not a mother, but I am number seven in a family of nine. I worked in childcare for many years before retiring; now I enjoy blogging about all that I have learned along the way.