On Lamenting and Accepting (Temporarily) Survival Mode

I had something else ready and scheduled for today but ended up having a lot of thoughts (which I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed to articulate coherently) ruminating over the weekend.

I try to be “authentic” in this space. To write about the good and the bad, the easy and the hard. Some things don’t need to be discussed in a public forum, of course, but I think that the struggles of parenting – generally and then more specifically in the context of a global pandemic – are of relevance and critical significance. We are currently raising the next generation in a time of near-constant upheaval and immense stress. As parents we feel both the pressure to insulate our children from that upheaval and stress (while not over-insulating them – being left to determine how to best address their unique concerns and frustrations honestly without adding additional burdens to their young lives), while we parents navigate our own suite of challenges.

It feels a bit like Cirque du Soleil asked us to headline their tightrope act without sending us to circus school first.

Here in Nova Scotia we’re back in quasi-lockdown and I am in survival mode.

In a few hours my two children will log on for their first day of online learning in 2022. And, in a few hours, I will log on for my first day of online learning in 2022. I will be attending Grades 1 and 5. Again. Simultaneously.

I will no doubt spend hours jumping between bedrooms – helping with QR codes, reestablishing Wifi connections, keeping the younger one in his seat (except when he’s supposed to participate in morning calisthenics…when he’ll insist on staying in his seat and I’ll have to convince him to leave his seat – and yes, this is as frustrating as it sounds); I will undoubtedly also help untangle headphone cords, help locate the red crayon required for a group craft, and supervise and count down the 80 jumping jacks listed on the daily physical education log.

This is in addition to making sure (with my husband’s help) that they have clean clothes, are fed, get time outside to play and exercise, do their chores, get enough sleep, brush their teeth and generally ensure their many emotional and physical needs are taken into account.

Can I be brutally honest? I am dreading all of it – from crayon hunting to calisthenics to cooking to gearing them up in winter garb (yes, they dress themselves; and yes, it still feels like a Herculean effort to help them get out the door and even more of a Herculean effort to help them deal with all the wet gear when they come back inside).

Not because any of this is overly difficult or intellectually taxing. But because I am bone-weary.

Two comments last week really stood out. First, someone mentioned how wonderful it is that I seem to be able to find both joy and fun in parenting (a reference to the insightful book by Jennifer Senior called All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood which, incidentally, I read before a global pandemic zapped many of us of so many sources of joy and fun). Another commenter expressed appreciation that I identified just how long the days can feel.

It’s true – I do look for joy and fun; I take the kids skating on outdoor ponds and we bake cookies and go on family walks and we decorate Christmas trees together. But it takes effort and energy to create these moments and there are still a lot of hours to fill.

Full disclosure – many of those hours are neither joyful nor fun.

By Saturday morning I was exhausted.

Due to strong winds and significant snowfall, we lost power twice in a 24-hour period (including during the night, which woke me up). When the power came on at 6:30 am, I wasted no time and indulged in a long, hot shower. Then I carried hot bowls of oatmeal from the microwave and did something else (I think?) to contribute to breakfast preparations. The kids were already fighting, that much I remember. Likely over who got the spoons out of the drawer or something along those critical lines.

And then I signed off parenting for the day (because I’m fortunate enough to be able to do this; I think about the millions of women and men who juggle parenting alone and I feel guilty for needing to “sign off” parental duty when that isn’t an option for so many).

But I did sign off, collapsed on the bed and slept from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm. Aside from some run-ins with the flu, this is basically the latest I’ve “slept” in for over a decade – including during periods of sleep training and jet lag. Then I got up (ate some delicious food my husband had prepared) and went for a solo walk, ending up with a spontaneous invitation for tea with a friend – where she served me piping hot chai in a multi-coloured polka-dotted mug (that couldn’t have screamed of “joy” more loudly if the mug had its own set of vocal cords and a megaphone).

This friend is at the opposite end of the parenting spectrum; her children are all grown and she and her husband were alone this Christmas, for the first time since becoming parents several decades ago.

I took off my coat and settled in by her fire and talked. We discussed the good gifts of God surrounding us – the generosity of neighbours, the collective spirit to endure and help each other through these challenging days, our beautiful town. We talked about how stunning the trees looked, glistening white under the heavy snow and how simple things – like the giant inflatable teddy bear on her lawn – can bring such joy (seriously, it’s adorable). And then we discussed the weight of life lately, especially as it relates to parenting in a pandemic. I told her how hard it can be to articulate the exhaustion – not knowing when this will end, yes, but more generally the 24/7 responsibility that is parenthood. Harder in a pandemic – with playdates canceled and schools closed and support networks unexpectedly fractured. But hard before, too. The weight of responsibility can feel enormous, our identity as “modern” parents uncertain.

Today we are far less clear about what “parenting” entails. We know what it doesn’t entail: teaching kids mathematics and geography and literature (schools do that); providing them with medical treatment (pediatricians); sewing them dresses and trousers (factories abroad, whose wares are then distributed by Old Navy); growing them food (factory farms, whose goods are then distributed by supermarkets); giving them vocational training (two–year colleges, classes, videos). What parenting does involve, however, is much harder to define. The sole area of agreement for almost all middle–class parents – whether they make their children practice the violin for three hours a day or exert no pressure on them at all – is that whatever they are doing is for the child’s sake, and the child’s sake alone. Parents no longer raise children for the family’s sake or that of the broader world.

Jennifer Senior

Well, in a few hours I will help teach my kids math and geography and literature. As for vocational training, during the first lockdown, we taught Abby how to do laundry; this week she got a crash course in scrubbing toilets.

They clean their rooms and help prepare their own breakfasts, make their own beds, and do quiet time in their rooms each day – we’re trying to raise them to be independent thinkers, team players, and to have practical skills for the real world.

Before the “sacralization” of childhood…parents’ hearts weren’t expected to double as emotional seismographs. It was enough that they mended their kids’ clothes, fed them, taught them to do good, and prepared them for the rigors of the world. It was only after parents’ primary obligations to their kids had been completely outsourced – to public schools, to pediatricians, to supermarkets, to the Gap – that the emotional needs of their children came sharply into focus.

Jennifer Senior

I want my kids to be happy and well adjusted – don’t we all? But their emotional needs are hard to gauge when they face a set of challenges I’m not sure how to help them navigate. Their emotional needs are hard to gauge when they’re fighting (almost) constantly – most likely out of boredom/fear/frustration because they have essentially been cooped up for weeks on end with events canceled and friends isolating due to COVID exposures and inclement Canadian winter weather. Their emotional needs are hard to gauge when the rigor’s of the world are 3-ply masks and “no, that’s canceled” and hand-sanitizing stations and segregation from friends at school.

I’m doing my best but it simultaneously feels like too much and too little.

And then there is the guilt. Always the guilt. I got to “sign off” for a day, enjoy food prepared by a spouse, and sip tea from a mug that looked like it got caught in a confetti explosion.

I truly feel gratitude for all of that…and yet I still feel like I’ve had a face-to-face encounter with a freight train. And that it leveled me onto the tracks.

When the first lockdown happened, in March of 2020, it was scary and daunting – but there was also a sense of determination to get through this, together. Used to regular work travel, suddenly we were all together as a family around the clock. Yes, there was some doom-scrolling and I laid in bed and refreshed news sites over and over in those early days. And yes the kids watched a Disney movie every single weekday for several months (thank you, Disney+ from the bottom of my heart). But mostly we settled in and decided to make the most of a hard situation; we donned life jackets and boated out to an island (picnicking with sheep and collecting treasure from a shipwreck), we visited some lighthouses and then some more lighthouses and then our favourite lighthouse of all (multiple times). We drove the world-famous Cabot Trail (and saw more lighthouses). We hiked – woodland trails, beaches, bike paths, the streets in our neighbourhood. We saw waterfalls and visited anti-submarine bunkers from WWII, and went downhill skiing for the first time. We played games and taught life skills. And it was hard and exhausting, but there were so many moments of joy and fun.

And then this summer we slowed down because…we were tired. We rolled up our sleeves and got vaccines and stayed home, not so much because of the pandemic, but because we were running out of steam. We adventured when we could muster the energy – we roasted marshmallows over the fire and went fishing and some of us played in poison ivy (sigh) but we also took more naps and guzzled more coffee…and slowly moved into survival mode.

Laying in bed at 12:30 pm on Saturday, I realized that I’m “outed:”

  • I’m gamed out – I’ve played Sorry and Chutes and Ladders (I even made a life-size version of Chutes and Ladders last year – see picture here). I have played literally hundreds of games of UNO. I’ve played Crokinole (including by candelight during last weeks’ power outage) and Codenames. I’m tired of games.
  • I’m played out – I’ve played dressup and Shopkins and LEGO and hide-and-seek. I want to hide, on my bed, for a month.
  • I’m adventured out – see above.
  • I am Harry Potter-triviaed out; I have, not a word of a lie, answered at least 100 Harry Potter trivia questions in the last week. Of the “stump-JK-Rowling” quality. Abby, bless her, loves this activity and it’s something I can do. I try my hardest to come up with the right answers (and breathe a sigh of relief when it’s a multiple-choice question). Do YOU know the name of Nicolas Flamel’s wife; the middle name of Harry, Ron, and Hermoine; which Weasley twin was born first; the first and last name of the people Harry, Ron and Hermoine transformed into using Polyjuice Potion in The Deathly Hallows; the name of chapter 9 in the 7th book? Well I do…and my brain is ready to explode.
  • I’m read out – I’ve read book after book after book. I’ve read picture books and Magic Treehouse Books. I’ve read about red-headed Anne’s and girls living in the Alps and a friendly giant with enormous ears. I’ve downloaded audiobooks when I couldn’t read another word. And there were still hours left to fill.
  • I’m guilted out – I have incalcuable advantages – healthy children, a supportive spouse, loving family – and know so, so many are struggling at levels that are literally almost beyond imaging, but I’m tired of feeling guilty that, despite my advantages, this still feels hard. How can I be so blind to all my blessings? Why can’t I only focus on the good? Why does this all feel so hard?

I feel like I’ve stubbed a toe when others have amputated a limb…but my stubbed toe hurts.

Years and years ago I came across a book whose tagline read something along the lines of: “Stop surviving and start thriving.” I never got around to reading it; the title threw me off. About the same time we found ourselves in a time vortex; our 2-year-old was sick with pneumonia and survival was literally the only thing on our minds. For three straight weeks I knew neither the date nor the time of day. Time lost all meaning – there was just sickness and antibiotic doses and doctor’s appointments and weariness. Sleep sometimes came at 3 pm; hot showers and food could happen at 3 am.

We survived and that was all that needed to happen. The thriving had to wait.

More recently, I wrote about my decision to stop my Bible-in-one-year on day 311. I didn’t know what to read in 2022. I’m tired – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. But then I felt drawn to read through the Psalms. They are full of joy and praise! But equally, they are full of lament (from this morning’s Psalm: “I am weary with my moaning…“)

I don’t want to complain right now – I have so much to be thankful for. But I do need to lament. When we complain we gripe; we give voice to anger or dissatisfactions. When we lament we mourn; we express sadness over what we longed for and the current reality. As one source put it: A complaint often turns into an outburst. A lament is a sorrowful prayer.” And also, I think, an expectant longing for hope.

In my first day of reading I came across Psalm 1:4 [talking about people of faith]:

And they will be like a tree planted by a river of water that brings forth fruit in their season.

The woods out my back window are currently heavily laden with snow. There is no obvious outward growth during this long winter season. They only need to survive; stay rooted and firm during the howling winds, falling snow, heavy ice. But inside they are developing structure, becoming hardy…and when the spring comes, they will be renewed, turn green, stretch upwards and thrive.

It’s hard to strike the right balance – on a public blog, with our friends and loved ones and with ourselves. We want to find joy and practice gratitude and celebrate the successes and blessings we have but I think it is also human and natural (and spiritually and emotionally healthy) to lament. And then to hope.

Happy Monday, friends. May you find both joy and time to lament (if needed) today.

Header photo by Artur Stanulevich on Unsplash

24 thoughts on “On Lamenting and Accepting (Temporarily) Survival Mode”

  1. Oh, I’m so sorry to hear how burned out you are. I am not a parent and I can only thank you for taking on the responsibility of parenting/teaching/training your children.

    I don’t know exactly what’s best right now. Our town has no mask mandate, no requirement for children to wear masks at school, and if you looked around while walking around downtown, you wouldn’t know that we are in the middle of the largest wave of the pandemic yet. Our hospital is at capacity and the least emergent cases in the ER are waiting in another part of the building. But is it better for the children of our to go to school and see their teachers and peers in person than to have them in front of screens again, forcing parents into tech support and para-educator roles? Or are we risking lives? A 13 yo middle school child in our town died last year with COVID. Are we just waiting for another incident like that? I’m glad I’m not a decision maker.

    Peace to you. Peace to your family. May you come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever (and maybe just a bit less likely to read anything JK Rowling ever writes again?).

    1. Ha! I still love Harry Potter, but I could do without knowing quite so much minutiae about the books!

      It is definitely so hard to know how to make the right decisions. Case numbers are still (relatively speaking) quite low where we live, but Nova Scotia (and Canada more generally) has been very cautious during the pandemic – which I definitely appreciate. Everyone wears masks around us; I can literally count on one hand the number of times I have seen people inside public spaces without a mask since they were mandated. And every child in every grade level at our school wears masks (aside from eating and drinking; for a while they were even masked while playing outside, but I think they changed that before Christmas). Our province has, I think, an 87% vaccination rate for 5+. That said, I realize the risks of COVID are higher when kids go back to school, but I think of the mental health (and academic) impacts to SO many children. I also suspect there are children without access to online learning (e.g. Wifi), and those that depend on school for safe spaces and food. It’s very hard to balance and I’m thankful I’m not a decision maker, but it IS a hard time to be a parent and it is definitely hard to see kids missing friends and academics.

  2. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way I feel like our culture today made us think that we need to apologize if we’re having a hard time because we know “it could be so much worse.” I think it’s completely possible to recognize how blessed we are AND still have hard days in the midst of it. Winters are hard for a lot of people, and winters lately in the pandemic especially so. So don’t feel bad for one second because you’re struggling! Your anxieties and exhaustions are valid, even if “other people have it harder.”

    It’s okay to lament, and I know I can only speak for myself (but I’m sure others will agree) that it’s refreshing to realize, “Oh good, I’m not the only one struggling with this.” I personally loved reading this because I have days like this all the time, especially during the cold and dark months.

    I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time, and I’m doubly sorry you are now going back into semi-quarantine. Not fun at all. Adding schooling on top of all the normal parenting responsibilities is unbelievably stressful. I hope it doesn’t last too long!

    Hugs to you, and I hope that you find the strength you need this week <3

    1. Thanks for the kind words and you’re definitely right that it DOES help to know that other people are struggling in the same way.

      Day one of schooling is well underway and it has been MUCH smoother than our previous experiences. The kids are older and I think the teachers are just much better equipped to help support kids remotely. It does feel slightly tragic to hear their little voices chiming in from their rooms via headsets, but there is much to be thankful for even in the middle of less-than-ideal circumstances.

  3. I recognized so much of the feeling in your post, and then I got to this part and started crying: “I’m doing my best but it simultaneously feels like too much and too little.” It is all too much.

    You are doing a great job. You are a great mom, that is so starkly clear from your posts. This is so hard, and you are doing it. I cannot tell you how much your words resonate, and how comforting it is to hear that other moms are experiencing the same roiling conflict of emotion that I am.

    My kid is back in school. She is having a tough time, and I hope being back in school will ease her anxiety and negative feelings. I hope she and her classmates can be in school for a long time. I hope we will all look back on this time as the lowest point, and that things get better from here on out.

    Thinking of you and surrounding you with light.

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement and I’m glad that others can relate. Parenting can feel a bit isolating at the best of times, and during COVID it can feel even harder and more emotionally fraught.
      I’ve so appreciated your posts lately and have been following along with your own COVID weariness. I’m thrilled Carla got back to in-person schooling and hope everything stays open and cases start going into steady (and long-term!) decline.

  4. Week two of online learning in Ontario here (we did two full days last week here). I have 7 year old twins in two different grade 2 classss and my youngest who turned 4 Dec. 17th in Junior Kindergarten. I’m taking this week off from work and my mom is helping (thank you vaccines) and it’s still AWFUL. all three have different schedules and I struggle personally with balancing the kids doing the work and just letting them dictate the answers to me and I type. The teachers are trying their best, but I honestly wish the kids had like an hour call each day and then could play/read/do crafts. I know other parents probably feel differently but that’s where I’m at.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, it helps knowing I’m not alone!

    1. Oh no. This sounds so hard.

      I really appreciate that the teachers for early grades DO try to keep it short (my youngest was done at 10:30 today; my oldest is done at 1:30) but I can also understand some parents wanting the extra supervised learning time. But I just don’t think the younger kids can cope. It’s A LOT to take in with different people competing to talk at the same time. A friend of mine is just asking her son’s teacher for access to the curriculum so they can work on it during their own time. And last year my youngest only attended ONE gym class and ZERO music classes during his online learning. We went walking and biking and listened to lots of music and because he was in tears many days, I just couldn’t force him to spend more time in front of the screen.

      Day 1 went surprisingly well for us; MUCH better than online learning during primary next year. It is going to get significantly colder here (Nova Scotia) in a few days so I’m trying to get the kids outside as much as possible before the temperature nosedives because I find that helps A LOT (and of course, at school, they’d spend various chunks of time outside with friends during the day.

      All the best and I truly hope the pressures ease as the week progresses!!

      You are DEFINITELY not alone and I hope things improve AND that the kids can all get back to in-person learning soon.

  5. Oh boy, this is tough. I think even in “normal” times being a parent is hard nowadays. When I think back to my own childhood, my parents rarely played with us. Well, never, probably once we got past the toddler age. But we were busy playing with friends. We played outside and had out own adventures. It would have been nice if we had a few more family activities, but now I think it’s swung too far in the other direction. The parents are expected to do everything, be there 24/7, read books, play games… I remember when my kids were little I couldn’t figure out when I was supposed to clean the house- I was too busy taking them to parks, reading, building Legos, doing crafts, etc. I think there’s a balance in there that somehow I missed. During the recent lockdowns, I kept thinking how glad I was it didn’t happen when my kids were little! I don’t know how parents of young kids got through it. Not to mention online schooling. So, I think what you’re feeling is completely natural under the circumstances. I don’t think there’s a solution, other than…. hang in there. It will end! Keep reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can. From reading your blog, it sounds like you’re doing an amazing job, but I know there are lots of moments I’m not seeing. Whatever it is, you’re still doing your best. Good luck and know that we’re all rooting for each other during this difficult time.

    1. Thanks, Jenny!
      Day #1 went surprisingly well and it really is so helpful to feel like we’re all part a team, rooting for each other!

  6. Yes to all of the comments here! My kids are in grades 6 and 4. It is going better this time, this is the third time in my province (Manitoba) that we have been in a remote learning environment. It is supposed to be only one week this go around. I’m finding that my kids are older and it isn’t quite as hard but I should be focused on work right now and am finding that hard. I so get the guilt – I feel so done yet I’m fortunate that both my husband and I have our jobs all through the pandemic. On the other hand I’m at the point where one little thing is the tipping point into despair.

    Thank you for sharing and allowing us all to know we are not alone. You are not alone. It will feel that way in some moments and in other moments I hope you feel the virtual and in-person support.

    1. The littlest things can now feel like the biggest of deals!
      I definitely have felt the support today in these comments and wish your family all the best as you navigate the same online learning environment. I’m hoping for a return to in-person schooling next week, but until then we’re just taking one day at a time! Today went better than I expected, which was such a relief and I’m feeling so thankful (though it’s only 7:45 pm and I am EXHAUSTED)!

  7. It’s all so very hard, and I often wonder what the long-term effects will be on our kids. We can only do our best, and you are doing so much! It’s exhausting, for sure. We had some very disappointing news yesterday, and in the grand scheme of things it’s a small thing. But when you’re a teenager and this is your whole life, it’s not a small thing at all. It’s everything. Anyway, I’m navigating that right now.

    You are doing a great job, I don’t blame you for being exhausted. I hope you can take more time for you, in the form of naps and good talks with friends.

    1. So sorry about all the struggles on your end, too. And the little things can actually be big in the long run with kids. I still remember some horrible teachers in school that actually had a tangible impact on the next steps in my education. It DID all work out in the end but actually caused some major issues for some other people I knew (we had a few incompetent science teachers in high school that made the entry into university unnecessarily challenging).

      Hope things start clearing up further West and the return to in-person school helps ease some of the pressures.

  8. I’m sorry you’re struggling!! It is such a tough time. I hate that some schools are closing again….at this point, I really feel they need to do everything possible to STAY OPEN. I’m sorry you guys are dealing with that.

    The only thing that popped into my mind, and feel free to disregard this “advice”, is that maybe you can just kind of “let the kids be” a little more sometimes. Your kids aren’t that young. I bet they will be just perfectly fine if you aren’t playing with them, reading to them, adventuring with them, etc. constantly. Just let them chill and hang on their own and take a break!! Maybe you’re putting some undue pressure on yourself. You don’t have to entertain them constantly! They’ll be fine. 🙂 Really. I promise. Think back to the millions of years before now. Parents didn’t have to play Chutes and Ladders with their kids every day to be good parents….they made the meals and picked the crops and built the fires or whatever. 🙂 The kids were fine. They went outside (alone) and played with sticks or something. lol.

    Anyway, you’re doing great. This will pass….eventually….it has to, right? I really hope your schools open ASAP. This is vital!! To everyone. And the risk/benefit calculation seems very clear right now, at this point in the pandemic, to swing to the side of having schools open. Good luck! Virtual hugs from your blog friends. 🙂

    1. Great advice and I can 100% acknowledge that lots of the “entertain-the-kids” pressure I feel is self-inflicted. And I definitely DO a lot with my kids. I think one current factor in our family is that our kids are on the “under-scheduled” side. They don’t currently have extracurriculars (some of this by choice, some of this is due to COVID and things being canceled/shuttered) and…there are just so many hours to fill. Because of COVID they have a lot less flexibility to play with their friends, for example, and lots of public things have been shut down. I used to take them to the library and let them explore and play and read independently…and that’s just not feasible right now.
      I do put the kids in their rooms each day to play independently for over an hour and usually have them in bed by 7:30 (even though the oldest doesn’t actually fall asleep until 9-9:30). We sometimes leave them to get breakfast solo on Saturday mornings, they get set up with audiobooks and a sleepover on Saturday and Sunday night’s about 6 pm so my husband and I can have an in-home date night…and I have them do chores and send them outside solo to play.

      While I know I could do less with/for them, I do actually require them to spend quite a bit of time playing independently and saying “no” to their requests. Promise. Definitely room for improvement but, at a certain point, we’re often all they have right now because of COVID.

      I had to laugh about your “fire” comment; Levi met up with a friend on a beach last year and they worked for 45 minutes to reignite embers on a “dead” fire and got it going again and it was SUCH a highlight. They also love helping my Dad do bonfires on the beach. Considering the back of our house is a forest, I try to discourage fire making, but I have great memories of wandering through the woods SOLO as a kid.

      And yes, this will pass! Hopefully soon!

  9. Well you know I can completely relate to all of this. When I was updating a mom group last week on Will’s ear infections/tubes surgery, one of them asked how I was doing with everything. It was nice to be asked that. It is hard to really talk about our struggles because there is this sense of a misery olympics/need to acknowledge that someone else has it worse. But if we focus on comparative suffering, we never acknowledge the hard stuff we are dealing with and that is not healthy, IMO. But a lot of us ARE struggling and I think it helps to hear that others are, too, so we feel less alone. I know the tone of my blog has been very negative and downtrodden lately, but my goal is to reflect my reality to the extent possible. I sometimes go back and read blog posts from different points of my life and it’s helpful to see where I was at and how I am feeling now. Like I know I had a hard time in the fall of 2018 when Paul had non-stop ear infections and ended up with tubes at 9 months. But surely the tone of my posts improved once we were less sleep deprived. But if I was always focusing on the good, I might feel like I’m failing at parenting since I’m struggling so much now w/ Will’s ear infections and sleep. But now that he has tubes, things should be looking up and I think the months ahead of us will be better than the months we just left behind. I hope!!!

    In case you need to hear it again, you are an excellent mom! We put so much pressure on ourselves to do so much for our kids and it’s hard to draw the line on how much is enough, but surely you are doing more than enough! When I think back on my childhood, I have very few memories of playing games with my parents or working on puzzles with them. But I was the 4th kid out of 5 so I think they were very very busy in general so I was left to fend for myself. And it all worked out! Our kids will get a different style of parenting since there are only 2 of them, but I am hoping Paul looks back and remembers all the books we read and games we played in the evening! But right now, it’s kind of mandatory to engage with him in that way. He doesn’t do well with independent play in the evening so we need to do games/puzzles/read books unless we hand him an iPad, which we try not to do before bedtime (but no shame for doing that if it gets a person through the day – he got a lot of tv/iPad time when he was home for the covid quarantine).

    1. Yay for the tubes. And yay for supporting each other through the tough times. You’re definitely right that different seasons and challenges can really colour our experience and overall tone to life. That has to be seen as natural and, I would argue, healthy.

      Wishing your family a healthy 2022!

  10. “Sadness is the soul’s way of saying, ‘This mattered.'” – K.J. Ramsey

    The circumstances of life, particularly the uncertainty of the past 2 years have taken an undoubted toll. Your lament is a record of the struggle and (as the kids these days say *wink*) the struggle is real.

    Wishing you many bright moments and (though they be brief) restful interludes, even in the midst of survival mode.

  11. Uff. I feel everthing you have expressed in this blog post, Elisabeth… and I have the “luxury” of not having children, not having to entertain and make sure another human being is taken care of (not just physically, but emotionally). I salute all parents through this pandemic, that’s for sure.

    But I relate to the fact that we all have the right to lament the state of the world and the challenges we face every day – even though our challenges might be very different, they can all be hard (and they are!).
    I feel the fatigue and exhaustion as much as everybody else and I am thankful that I can mostly just try to take care of myself (which seems like its own challenge sometimes).

    We have to extend grace and give ourselves grace and yes, then we hope.

    1. Yes to all of this. Hard is hard and it’s okay to admit it – while balancing that hard with the realization there is almost always so much to be thankful for as well.
      We’re all tired and exhausted, but feeling like there is a community of people allowing for authentic lament helps the hard feel…less hard. And a shared experience. Which is yet another thing that deserves gratitude!

  12. Oh, Elisabeth. I’m so sorry that you are dealing with all of this. And in January, of all the times of the year… It’s dark, it’s cold, we don’t have the holidays to anticipate anymore, and then life throws all of this at you? It does not seem fair.

    I’ve had a response window open for a few days now, struggling with what to say. Because, as you know, I can’t possibly know what you and your family are experiencing. But I can tell you that I am thinking of you, that I wish you would be more gentle with yourself (even though I know this may be a fruitless hope), and that I wish I could help in some way.

    (I did read posts after this that indicated it wasn’t quite the horror scene you imagined… but honestly, sometimes the anticipation of the potential horribleness [huh, apparently my browser thinks that is a word…] is worse than when things actually happen.)

    I hope you are able to find those bright spots and moments of joy. My (virtual) ears are always, always open if you need to just vent. <3

    1. The stewing is often worse than the doing. We got through it, and lamenting was cathartic.
      I have so much to be thankful for, but that guilt over blessings can feel heavy, too, in the oddest way.
      Thanks as always for your kind words, Anne!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *