Give yourself a break, Mom and Dad: We’re all just a little bit anxious

Written by Cynthia Yanof
Published on July 24, 2020

“Knock it off! The last thing we want to do is go to the hospital.”

It was a simple plea for my kids to stop doing asinine things in the middle of a global pandemic. The irony wasn’t lost on me as those same words echoed back while I was laying on the stretcher in the back of an ambulance.

“We might as well save money while we’re stuck at home. Why pay professionals if we can do it ourselves?

That was another miss on my part that became blatantly evident the instant three kind men jumped off their firetruck to assist my husband in a high-level quandary.

It’s a squirrel in the attic, not the national debt. I believe you can deal with it.”

Looking back, I’m thinking it’s more of what I didn’t say rather than what I did say to my thirteen-year-old son, who had just recently been gifted a pellet gun.

If my quarantine life were depicted as a Hollywood movie, these phrases might be considered foreshadowing for my upcoming emergency gallbladder surgery, my husband being “rescued” from a failed tree-trimming excursion, and the revelation of a hefty patch of bullet holes blown smack-dab in the middle of my bathroom ceiling. (RIP, squirrel.)

And that was just the spring.

Really, give yourself a break

Sometimes we get it right as parents. Sometimes we get it wrong.

In my case, sometimes it’s very, very wrong.

May I be so bold as to give you permission to give yourself a break?

I know you’re anxious. We all are.

These are unprecedented times, and we have the sum total of zero experience in raising kids in the height of a pandemic that’s shaking everything we hold dear to the very core.

Let’s not forget that when they handed us these precious babies in the hospital all those years ago, we were really just babies ourselves. Armed with the safest car seats we could get our hands on, we drove home (ridiculously slowly, I might add) committed to doing anything and everything to protect these little blessings and give them the best life we knew how to provide.

But back then the “hard” things were pre-washing baby clothes in special detergent and learning how to put those plastic pieces on the corners of our coffee tables. 

And, not to point fingers here, but I don’t recall one person in the prenatal class warning us that, one day, we would have to keep our kids away from their friends and grandparents because their airborne pathogens might give someone else a deadly virus.

While we’re at it, I might also mention that I didn’t see a single page in What to Expect When You’re Expecting with a decision tree for assessing when it’s safe to send our kids back to school with rising pandemic numbers and associated deaths.

Are you following me?

The unexpected gift

This very minute, we are navigating uncharted waters, and we’re all learning it together (yes, even the “experts” on your social media page are struggling through this too). The information we’re processing is contradictory, confusing, and cumulatively overwhelming.

So when you hear yourself saying really ridiculous stuff, or doing things that defy logic, or losing sleep because you’re convinced you endangered your whole family by going to the store for some Double Stuf Oreos and a Diet Coke . . . take a deep breath and relax.

You’re getting it right more than you’re getting it wrong.

Right now, you’re doing the real work of parenting. You’re teaching your kids how to make the best decisions you can with the information you have and not looking back. You’re showing them there’s a time for everything, even a time to dance (I apologize. I went Footloose for a second). 

But there is a time for everything, including a time to be frustrated and sad—and that’s perfectly okay.

You’re pointing out that only in the hardest places of life are we given the unexpected gift of realizing what really matters and that our greatest treasures today are the things we might have taken for granted just a few months ago.

You’re giving them real-time lessons on what it means to choose faith over fear and that the only kind of faith worth having is one that carries you through the unknowns of some really hard days and some really dark nights.

What I’m trying to say is: you were created to parent in days just like these, and nobody in the world is better equipped to walk the road with your family than you are.

So, when you feel the anxiety mounting with going back to school and all of its implications in the coming weeks, take a deep breath and trust that you’ve got exactly what it takes to successfully cross the finish line of this pandemic (but with a mask, of course).

And on the days when you fall a little short—like telling your preschooler all he needs is an ice pack a few hours before they cast his thumb, or dismissing a raging case of lice as bad allergies—give yourself (and me) a little bit of grace. 

We will all get through this together.

 

 

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Cynthia Yanof

Cynthia Yanof is a wife, mom, blogger, and the host of the Pardon the Mess podcast. She has a relaxed style of interviewing, combining her quick wit and sense of humor with a firm commitment to never taking herself too seriously.

She loves Jesus, her family, foster care, and having lots of friends around her as often as possible. Cynthia is relatable, real, and a friend to all of us just trying to walk the parenting road in a meaningful way that’s pleasing to the Lord.

Read more about Cynthia

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