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 what’s happening in our homes.
The simple answer is that this member is not alone. We are all crying.
We cry because we are terrified of getting sick or because someone we know or love is struggling with this illness. In the still of the night our dread bubbles over thinking of a parent who is elderly, a best friend who has asthma or a child with diabetes. The darkened ceiling of our bedrooms has become our nightly companion.
We cry because the towns we live in and the cities we love are shuttered. We hope that the local business, our favorite restaurants, the local sporting goods shop and the hair salon will come through these tough times. These businesses are the backbone of our communities and we know many of their hardworking owners and employees. They hire our teens. They keep our neighborhoods humming. Without them, what are our towns?
We cry because the future is unsettled. When will school resume? How will our students find their footing? For the teen going off to college, everything seems changed. Should they still stray far from home? Is a summer job still even a possibility? What will happen to our jobs, our partners’ jobs, our savings and our homes? We cry because we fear that this will get worse before it gets better.
We cry because everywhere we look, people are losing their livelihoods and it is soul crushing.
We cry because our kids are crying. They had looked forward to baseball season, or prom, or visiting colleges for a long as we can remember. They had practiced their swing, bought their dress, studied hard and now all those once-in-a-lifetime moments are not to be. We cry for the cap and gown, hanging in the closet, that will never be worn. We know there will be more joyful moments for them, more proud moments for us, but here in this moment we cry right alongside them. We know that the world has much bigger problems but we allow our family a few tears for the milestones that will go unmarked.
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. In a moment of calm we wonder how those on the front lines endure and chide ourselves to be stronger.
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 cry at the fragility of life and at the speed with which our entire world transformed. It took only weeks for all the things we thought were rock solid to come crashing down around us.
We cry for the moms of little ones, who can’t get a break from the demands of babies and young children. And for the brand new moms and dads who are more isolated than ever.
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 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.
We grocery shop with masks, speak to no one, avoid the crowded aisles, sanitize our hands and our cart and our food and the car and our hands again and again. 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.