Almost every parent I know is struggling. For the past two years, now rounding into three, we have had to pivot, change, and pivot again. Time after time.
It feels as though we are living in the movie Groundhog Day; that no matter what we do, what we tell ourselves when we wake, what different choices we try to make throughout the day, we always end up in the same damn place.
We are beyond tired.
But it’s more than just the bone-wearying exhaustion of trying to juggle parenting, working, and the seemingly constant back and forth of in-school and remote schooling.
It’s more than just quarantine, isolation, social distancing, zoom meetings, and endless requests for snacks.
It’s more than just the frustration of trying to stay up-to-date with the constantly shifting rules and various openings/closings.
It’s more than just desperately trying to balance our lives while tenuously holding on to some semblance, some thread, of “normal.”
It’s the overwhelming feeling of loss, of what life should be, but isn’t. It’s watching our kids lose out on the childhood that we envisioned for them. It’s losing out on the life that we envisioned for ourselves.
Laura Danger, mother, educator, and Chicago-based community advocate, took to TikTok (@thatdarnchat) to poignantly sum up what this pandemic has really cost us. And it’s A LOT.
Her video, entitled “Mourning,” has gone viral with over 460K views, 83K likes, and 4600 comments.
Because it is painfully, achingly, relatable.
Laura starts out by saying:
I usually have no problem finding words for things, but lately I just, I’m at a loss. Every single person I talk to is drowning.
Drowning under the weight of all.the.things. Drowning under the uncertainty, the instability, the financial and emotional burdens the pandemic has wrought.
Laura goes on to say:
I feel like I’ve been in a state of grief now for what, two years.
Same, girl, same.
Grief that my kid will never go to a storytime at the library.
My kids haven’t had birthday parties, my grandparents have never met my two-year-old.
Our kids have missed out on so much; extracurricular activities, birthday parties, proms, graduations, being with their friends and extended families.
Going to school, playing with their classmates, going on field trips to museums and zoos. So much of what is considered normal has been transformed or disappeared completely. And it’s heartbreaking to think about.
Laura also references other aspects of her life that have taken a toll.
There’s grief around what she’s had to face through difficult conversations with loved ones who don’t see eye-to-eye and whose values don’t line up with hers.
There’s grief around “the systems that be” continuing to “make survival an individual effort.”
And there’s grief over how this has affected her parenting.
I feel grief over isolation. I feel grief that my kids have to grow up with a mom in survival mode.
Oof, do I feel this. Because this is me. I feel like I am constantly running on fumes. That I am struggling to catch my breath.
My children are taken care of yes, but in the midst of it, they are not getting the best part of ME. Because that part of me? Is buried somewhere deep inside, under layer upon layer of stress.
These days I am barely holding it together. And the thought of one more thing added to my already overflowing plate of worry, stress, and guilt that I’m failing, and I fear I may break into a thousand shards of glass.
I am not thriving. I am merely surviving.
I’m mourning routine and access to dreams because it just feels like there’s no end.
Every day as a parent is assessing risk and trying to figure out what fat to trim.
Where can we make sacrifices in our life? Whose career, whose dreams, whose fulfillment is gonna take a hit today?
There’s no denying that Covid-19 has left so many shattered dreams in its wake. We have all had our fair share of disappointments. So much has been canceled and stolen. And we are all feeling the losses.
Just when you think that things are starting to return back to normal, the coronavirus has other plans and the rug is pulled out, yet again, from under our feet.
My kids are currently at home on an extended break, decided at the eleventh hour before they were supposed to return to school this week. We are waiting to find out whether or not they will return to in-school learning next week or go back online.
To say I’m tired is a gross understatement. To say I’m mourning is painfully accurate.
Laura ends her video with the words:
“It feels like each of us has been individually changed by this experience. We don’t fit in society in the boxes that we’re supposed to fit in but no one’s changing the box.
I wanna be an optimist and think that in 10 years there will be a greater future and most days I can be there. But today I’m just mourning.”
And I think so many of us have been there, are there, or will be there at some part in this journey.
Based on the comment section, Laura is not alone.
Countless others came forward to say they share in the same grief experience.
The reality is that at some point, this pandemic will go away. Our lives will return to normal. But we will never return to who we were pre-Covid. We have been irrevocably changed by this experience, and so have our children.
There is no going back. But there is going forward.
And it’s okay to say that we’re sad. It’s okay to mourn what we, and our children, have lost. It’s okay to admit that we’re not okay. There is comfort in knowing that we are not alone.
In fact, it’s important to recognize the trauma that these past couple of years have instilled in all of us. Because it is through acknowledging this that we will finally find healing.