If you are anything like I am, initially the idea of being home for 2 weeks isolated wasn’t too daunting…home cooked meals, an afternoon nap, a chance to finally clean out that closet that never seems to be organized! I expected this was going to be somewhat “easy;” I even made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish so I didn’t fall into a bad habit of sleeping in and turning on the television for the full morning of news and bizarre talk shows! What happened though I didn’t expect. In addition to some old favorite recipes being made and a closet full of meticulously folded towels and sheets came some frustration and even some tears.
Among the social media posts about supporting our health care workers, cleaning out your fridge, recipe challenges, and working from home tips came a plethora of parent complaints, memes, song parodies and selfies about home schooling.
As these comments and complaints came via social media, zoom interruptions, text or email, I began to feel personally affected. I was not angry but more jealous, it seemed. I have been working with children my entire career so of course as each friend or family member voiced struggles, I daydreamed about my own dining room table and how it would’ve been the best home school ever, with themed days and special homemade snacks, virtual classes and organized bins and books. And in my utopia, of course my already grateful and polite children would LOVE Mommy School! My husband, while working from home in his office too, would be in awe of how effortless I made it seem and how this time of pandemic just enabled us to become better parents and a family more devoted to God and one another!
But, as I felt the emptiness of my table I tried to be positive and sent cards to my friends, asked my nephew to color Easter eggs for my front door and invited my neighbors to use our driveway too for their chalk art. I wanted to be a part of it all.
I have been told before that others aren’t always as “mindful” as I am, but I always find that hard to comprehend because when thinking of my friends, we all have been through so much, and have supported one another with respect and love. As per usual these days we have a Facebook message chat with about 20 of us who have been close for over 25 years, and one morning a friend posted a video of their kids literally screaming at one another (but politely taking turns)! My friend turned the camera to show their own face and commented on how they have given up and their kids are now up for sale! Of course we all knew it was a joke and the kids were even smiling as they screamed (with their bowls of snacks and tons of toys). But for whatever reason that day, this silly video was like a punch to the gut and my flood gates opened so to speak. I couldn’t stop myself from the ugly cry and running nose. I went to my room and let it all out. I didn’t know how much I had really been holding in. A wise spiritual director once told me that if I am up for it when those tears flow, talk to God during and after them. For as long as you can just let him hear you until that moment when you have physically exhausted yourself, and then lay still and listen to Him. So I tried to talk to God and as I cried I asked why my friends didn’t remember how painful it is for me and why my home school is empty and why I have such a love for children and desire for motherhood…a lot of why…a lot of it’s not fair…and a lot of pleading to change this situation for me.
And as it happens, I physically exhausted myself and took a deep breath and asked God to speak back to me, and promised Him I would do my best to be open to listen.
And thankfully He did speak to my heart, He reminded me of my gifts and talents, and the love of my family and friends. He reminded me of the 100’s of kids I had guided and cared for over the years and how they had benefited from my faith, humor, art classes or special snacks. And then He reminded me of a lesson I had forgotten about, “Fair is not always Equal”. I cried more tears that it wasn’t fair, that God seemed to give these miracles to everyone but me, it wasn’t fair. I have been a good person, why didn’t I get what everyone else has?
He reminded me that I have been given different blessings and miracles and those gifts were not measurable against another’s gifts. And as I sat in my warm and welcoming home, with a pantry and full fridge, as my husband worked from home without missing any pay, as my family only miles down the road sent messages that they are healthy I was able to remind myself that I am truly blessed by God. In a world filled with suffering and pain, in a time of pandemic and uncertainty, I still needed to stop in wonder and awe of what blessings and miracles have been a part of my life. And although they may be different from what I have asked for, God has been faithful in His kindness and generosity to me.
So instead of focusing and maybe even obsessing about what others are doing with their children, I am focused on the joy that is promised in the Resurrection and striving to thank God for and recognize all the blessings in my life that I have been given; all the miracles I have been witness to and especially for the love of family and friends.
Amy and her husband live in New Jersey.