From the day we brought our babies home, we found immense love in fixing things for them. When they were crying, we fed or changed them. When they were cold, we swaddled them in plush blankets. When they fell and scraped their knees, we cleaned and bandaged the cuts. When they were tired, we carefully placed them into bed. When they were sick, we pumped them with liquids and warm soup. When friends were being mean, we talked about how to fix the situation. When they needed comfort from the world, we gave them our ears and our outstretched arms.
So much of being a mom is mending the hurts our children are facing.
Hunger, a cold, the harshness of other children—we are the fixers who change their circumstances in any way we can. We morph into a momma bear. It is what we have done from day one. What I recently discovered is why SO much of this COVID-19 pandemic hurts us moms is because we are 100 percent powerless in the pain our children are feeling and the circumstances they are facing.
Some of our children have had their freshmen year of college moved online. Their sports seasons have been canceled. Some children have gone back to reopened schools. Some kids have seen their school year move online. Other children are awaiting decisions on all these experiences. And we mothers are standing by, waiting too. We pensively watch the news, staying informed of local and national guidance. And we are unsure of what to do next. If a decision will be made. If it will change in a week.
We cannot fix that their rite of passage into college is marred by this virus. We cannot change that the sports they love and have been spending months—even years—diligently practicing for are canceled. We cannot single-handedly modify the plans of school districts. We cannot alter any of the decisions that have been made. We also cannot make the powers that be render their judgments any faster.
What are we to do? We wait. Trapped in this helpless limbo.
Maybe hoping for one thing and sensing that another might be safer or better. All the while, striving to console our children and endeavoring to make sense of all these changes to them.
Whether you are explaining to a second-grader why she will not be going to school with her peers or struggling to tell a senior in high school why his football season is canceled, it is simultaneously heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and daunting.
Whether we can make sense of the whys in our heads, our hearts are still being tugged to fix this. What I have learned in navigating the upcoming school year for my own children is that we are all experiencing astonishing challenges and this season in life is one that cannot be fixed. There is not a Band-Aid large enough to heal the disappointments and hurt feelings our children are facing right now. And, while it may be painful to recognize, there is solace in accepting it.
When you face that you alone cannot make this pandemic vanish and the choices being made are above your far-reaching authority, you feel a brief bit of comfort and maybe a night that is not sleepless.
You realize your power is still where it has always been—within the walls of your home.
While this school year, college, and this sports season may look different than you anticipated, embrace that transformation—for your children and their sanity. Be their bright spots, their guiding lights in this dark storm.
We do not have to pretend that these variances do not also wound us, but we do have to do what we have always done—find ways to help them heal. Maybe it comes in the form of taking what would have been game nights and organizing special nights for your family—including a movie or other activity. Maybe it comes in creating a special space to complete online classes. Maybe it comes in the shape of purchasing unique masks for school. Maybe it comes in carving out special days or activities for your family.
Or maybe, just maybe it comes in the form of doing what we mothers have been doing all along, lending our ears and our arms. Being there to listen to how your children are feeling. Being ready for the hurt. Letting them cry. Then opening those mom arms wide. Because, while there is not a Band-Aid big enough to extinguish their grief, our arms have always been vast enough to reach out, hold tight, and shelter them from the storm.