I stand there looking at the 6-pack of peanut butter crackers and tears well up in my eyes. The tears begin to migrate their way slowly down my cheek hitting my face mask. 

“Am I seriously crying over crackers?!” I think to myself inside the grocery store. Of course, it isn’t the crackers that are bringing on the tears. The snacks I’m buying are for my 3-year-old heading to preschool in the middle of a pandemic. 

This is not how I anticipated sending my son to preschool.

Spending evenings with him asleep in bed, obsessively reading up on preschool policies for having separate toys, separate art supplies, and wearing masks. 

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This is not the world I anticipated raising my son in. 

The thoughts of my son and one-year-old daughter being away from the comfort of my arms and the cocoon of our house make the tears flow further. 

There is no guidebook for parenthood in the time of a pandemic

If I could, I would keep them safe with me at home. Unfortunately with my job and my husband’s, it’s not an option. 

The peanut butter crackers nestle into the cart beside the antibacterial wipes, pack of apples, and granola bars. 

I look at my cart and take a deep breath.

I think of all the mom challenges I’ve faced. The late nights, the worry about milk supply, the long labor and C-sections. I think of the challenges I will face as my kids grow. 

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The lessons I’ve learned are numerous but the resounding truth I find is this: Parenting is a beautiful and sometimes difficult process of letting go and guiding our children to become the people they need to be. I cannot protect and cocoon them from every danger. I cannot predict the dangers or challenges. I have to let go, breathe, and have faith that it will all be OK.  

My job is to give these two little ones the tools for the difficult, muddy parts of our world. My job is to help them embrace, learn, and grow from hardships. 

I take a deep breath in my face mask, Unfortunately, I think to myself, I cannot shelter my son from the world, but I can pack him ALL the snacks for the journey. I  reach for the adjacent cheese crackers and throw them in the cart for good measure. 

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I look down at the two sets of little crackers in my cart. My tears are gone now. I take the next step in the grocery store, cart full of food, heading back into the beautiful messy world.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Melissa McGuire

Melissa is a mom of two who lives in Michigan. She enjoys baking, writing, and sitting down in silence with a cup of hot coffee, in her dreams.