We are crying.
Last week in the Grown and Flown Parents group, a member asked, “Anybody else hide from family for a few minutes to cry from being overwhelmed, then take a deep breath, wipe away the tears and go back to parenting and taking care of a household like nothing happened?” Almost 700 people jumped into the conversation shedding some light on just how overwhelming being a parent can be.
The simple answer is that this member is not alone. We are all crying.
We cry because the last year has been so hard on so many. Families have lost loved ones, our teens have lost a year, and despite the fact that our country is emerging, this has been one of the most difficult year in any of our lives.
We cry because our teens love us, then shut us out, then need us, then shut us out again. At no point did anyone ever say that this would be the hardest, loneliest years in parenting. At no point did anyone say that nurturing a soon-to-be adults would take everything out of us.
We cry because the future is unsettled. Life as the parents of teens and young adults is a life in turmoil. It felt so assured when as the moved through their K-12 years but now the future is cloudy. Will they go to college? Where will they go? Will they find jobs? Will they be able to make any money this summer? How will our family afford this next stage in their lives? The small disappointments in their lives now seem much bigger and it is hard not to take their lives deep into our hearts.
We cry because everywhere we look, people are losing their livelihoods and it is soul crushing.
We cry because our kids are crying. Being a teen was hard a generation ago, but it is even harder now. Anxiety and depression are rampant. Our teens are experiencing stress that we never knew and we are experiencing it right along side them.
We cry because we worry about our family’s mental health, our individual and collective ability to endure this strain. We know that so many have it worse, but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel worn down.
We cry for everything we took for granted and for the thin veneer of civility that can be stripped away in an instant by fear and desperation. We worry about our country and long for a time when kindness seemed more important.
We cry at the fragility of life and at the speed with which our entire world was transformed last year. It took only weeks for all the things we thought were rock solid to come crashing down around us.
We cry at the magnitude of the decisions we need to make for others. Our parents are getting older and need us more, our kids are getting older and need us less and sometimes it feels as though we can’t do what we need to for either.
We cry because we know that people will die alone and that families in mourning will be denied the loving comfort of their extended families and communities.
We cry in the shower and in the basement doing laundry and while walking the dog-where no one can see our tears. But we know that our tears change nothing so we take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
We wipe the tears away.
We get up early and make breakfast. We throw in a laundry. We go to work. It may be a day of Zoom calls at a makeshift office in the corner of a bedroom or an overnight shift in the ER taking care of patients, but we do what needs to be done. But at night darkened ceiling of our bedrooms has become our nightly companion and we worry.
We still grocery shop with our masks on, we see friends and family and try to keep everyone safe and healthy. And we pray that we are doing it all correctly. And then we get into the car and cry, because it’s the best place to cry.
But at the end of this day and every day, we are moms so we soothe each other’s fears, offer comfort to our parents, kids and friends. We dry our own tears and everyone else’s. We stay strong for our families and for yours. This is when our strength matters. We know that.
And we remind ourselves that times like these are the making of both individuals and of a generation. This is where and how resilience is forged. This is only a fraction of what the “greatest generation” did and we are, after all, their descendants. We’ve got this.
More to Read:
The Grown and Flown book is here – with chapters on health, mental health and how to raise your teen to adulthood, while staying close as a family.