I cannot tell you how many times I’ve said, thought or dreamt about that phrase, “Momma needs a vacation!” this year. The last seven (going on what feels like 1,000) months have been freaking insane, filled with unwelcome changes, wavering emotions and a state of constant uncertainty, not knowing what in the world we will be hit with next. My mental refresher, from these tough times, is to imagine that I am laying on a beach somewhere by myself (because 6 feet apart is imperative), reading a novel and soaking in the sunshine with a fully relaxed mind. Okay- cue the laughing, it's fine. If you know me, you may know that I am not good at the whole relaxed mind thing, no matter what is going on in the outside world. Hello, anxiety, I love that you decided to visit me in my late twenties and stick around.
Anyway, I was having one of those ‘’momma needs a vacation” daydreams yesterday when my kids were shouting about how bored they were for the 400th time since they woke up. Bored has been a state-of-mind around here because quarantine has us stuck in the house and we have run out of stuff to do. This momma, who needs a vacation, is not crafty and has reached her limit on slime projects, online schooling and screen time rules. My husband and I decided we would take the kids on a Target trip to get a couple new floats for our pool. This is the first time in MONTHS that we’ve taken them anywhere outside of the house, besides the occasional drive-thru stop or random road trip. If I am being honest, I am terrified of all things that have to do with this crazy COVID-19 pandemic. Some people believe its hyped up for political reasons or whatever else they want to share as social media heroes, but I have chosen to play the safer than sorry card to avoid getting anywhere near that unruly virus. No, thank you!
Insert our trip to Target. Our youngest is in the backseat, right behind me, and I hear her, over the music, tell her sister, “Oh my goodness! I wonder what the inside of Target looks like!” with so much excitement that you would think we were heading to Disneyland. You guys… this broke me into pieces. I instantly looked at my husband and said, “Oh my gosh! My poor baby hasn’t been in a store for so long that she forgets what it even looks like.” Again, if you know me, you know my love for Target, so this sentiment from her is unreal. Seeing the thrill in her eyes and hearing her excitement through her pink unicorn mask, while staying far away from others and sanitizing our hands afterwards, really solidified the idea that children find joy in action, even if that means a trip to Target.
Reflecting on it now I realize that we all need a vacation, but not in the sense of tropical islands or fancy cruise ships. Yesterday our vacation was exploring the aisles of Target. By next year I hope it expands to so much more, but the point is that we can’t forget about all the grace our children need from us right now. Our children, just as much as us, need a mental vacation, where they can drop the weight of the world from their shoulders. The changes we are feeling weigh heavy on their little hearts and minds too. This “new normal” idea, that everyone overuses in conversation, is so hard on us as adults which takes up most of our mental load. Imagine not being able to understand the full impact of a world pandemic or not being able to see your friends or family members in person for months at a time for no other reason than mom telling you it’s not safe right now while trying to grasp how much your life has changed over the course of, less than, a year. Schools have gone to remote options. Daily adventures take place within our home instead of in public, ever. So much has changed for these little growing humans! My husband and I have worked hard to explain this entire change to our kids, but at age 5 (or 6 or 10) it’s nearly impossible to comprehend.
So I am asking you to give this generation of children some grace. Try hard to see the world, pandemic and emotions tied to it through their eyes. Give them a voice to speak up and speak out about exactly how they’re feeling. Work through their online school meltdowns and let them skip out on a video chat with their class if it causes more anxiety than joy (I am speaking from experience here). Find ways to fizzle their boredom with safe options that allow them to get out and feel things that they’ve missed for months. I fully stand by our decision, as a family, to keep them home and social distanced and always will. We will continue to follow suit until we feel safe enough to choose otherwise. Your decisions may look different from ours, but our goal is the same- to keep our kids safe. Remember that safety is more than keeping them away from physical harm; take care of their mental and emotional health too.
We are learning to navigate this, momma, so give yourself some grace too.