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Column: A few lessons of motherhood amid this pandemic
Shannon Casas high res

Sheltering at home with children has been an adventure for most moms (and dads) — an adventure like climbing a volcano with a 100-pound pack full of snakes on our back while also carrying a hungry, crying human baby in our arms and a toddler with legs and arms clasped around one of our ankles. 

We’ve had to step up our game as parents. They need more from us. 

We’re no longer getting their breakfast and shooing them out the door to school; we’re getting breakfast and lunch and afternoon snack and dinner. And the toddler is having a meltdown because he doesn’t want that cereal, but which cereal he does want is anyone’s guess.

Maybe the grown kids are having their own meltdowns, too, uncertain about the job market, their finances, their future.

Parenting is hard. And now, some of us are with our kids all the time. It’s too much. Others of us are separated and longing for conversation and a hug.

Me, I’m finding new spaces in my house where I can work in peace away from the kids. And then a little face looks up at me at bedtime and asks “When can you spend some time with us?” Dagger. To heart.

This pandemic is teaching us a lot. And it’s specifically teaching us a lot about family. So this Mother’s Day, I asked what it’s teaching us about motherhood. The following are answers edited and compiled from what I received via social media.

  • No matter how old a mother gets or how old her kids get, she must remain creative, inventive and keep thinking outside the box.

  • The pandemic has made older mothers lonelier and younger mothers more stressed.

  • Mental health of mothers cannot be ignored. The mental fatigue of homeschooling children, keeping them active, continuing to work part- or full-time from home, having to organize Zoom meetings, having to cook extra meals, having to clean extra, worrying about family finances and the state of the world — it all compounds and can easily become too much.

  • What we’ve taught our kids through the years has resonated. Focusing on going with the flow, helping out, being understanding, putting yourself in others' shoes has paid off big time.

  • Schedules are especially important for some kids. That can be difficult right now, but creatively solving that problem can bring blessings, too, as we learn how to adjust and do things another way. Having things out of order isn’t the end of the world, and perhaps we can all accomplish more than we thought we could. 

  • It’s OK to say no to some ideas. What works in some situations may not be workable right now. It’s fine if everything isn’t perfect. As long as our kids are in a stable, loving environment, they will be OK.

  • Time with kids, whether conversations over a meal or coffee, should never be taken for granted. Facetime and Zoom are just not the same.

  • Getting up close and personal with schooling has shown us how our kids learn best and likely will help us guide our kids better when regular schooling does return. 

  • Sometimes, we can just let them be kids.

  • Even though we are all in the same home all day, every day, we still have to be intentional about spending quality time with one another — individually and all together. It can be a little too easy to let too much time go by without engaging kids in some way. 

  • We all need an extra bit of grace. Whether they show it or not, everyone is struggling in some way because things are different, and that is going to show up in the way that people behave, for better and worse.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. 

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