|Praying while mommy waits in line for Confession.|
I don't know about you, but I have found the COVID pandemic exhausting.
Since school started in August, our family has been tested twice because we had nebulous symptoms. Like everyone else, we have had to quarantine while waiting for results, which were negative each time. With a college student, high school student, middle school student, elementary student, and a preschooler, that's a lot of kids whose lives get disrupted for sniffles and coughs. (My 19 year old is not here; he joined the Army this summer. He is doing all those infamous drills and obstacles with a mask. He often quips during his phone calls, repeating back to me my mantra of his growing up years: "It's okay, Mom. It builds character!")
And then of course, my husband and I have to work from home, somehow trying to keep everyone on track with schoolwork and keep them from destroying the house with arts and crafts accoutrements or wrestling matches.
Someone is upset that I won't let my six year old play with her daughter more often. Although I feel it's important that my daughter has friends outside of school, I also feel the weight of trying to keep everyone healthy. So I limit their time together outside.
Trying to balance mental health and physical health, using prudent but not overzealous decisions, has resulted in getting criticism from some for not being cautious enough and from others that I am too cautious. But c'est la vie . . . especially in this time of COVID.
I am doing research on depression, anxiety, and suicide for some future articles. (This is where I put in a shameless plug for the Idaho Catholic Register. Keep me employed and subscribe! This is also where I remind you that my views are not necessarily those of my employer— see disclaimer at upper right of the blog page.)
Without giving any spoilers, all that research has made me keenly aware of how us human beings are meant for community. The human race has been through numerous plagues over the millennia, and people reacted then much as they do now. Some don't give a rip and risk their lives and the lives of others for a party, and because of varying immune systems and odds, some of these survive while many die. Some are frightened and die anyway in loneliness, or survive the plague to find they have lost their connections. Others try to walk the fine line of being a good neighbor yet using caution, and not all in this group survive, despite charity and wisdom.
Plagues have a way of bringing fatalism and destiny into the forefront of ideological discussions, formal and informal, as people have trouble coping with the seemingly arbitrary nature of pandemics. Plagues wear out people's hearts and minds, so that decisions become more and more difficult. Plagues have a way of exposing the frailty of humans: our inability to be perfect and to control everything that comes our way.
In a society that has built its economic and social structure for families with two kids, this COVID plague is even more of a pain in the neck for larger families. I'm not saying that quarantine rules are not necessary. I am saying that the likelihood rises for larger families to need to quarantine, for parents to need to work from home, and for kids to need to do virtual classes. The odds are in our favor to need to be tested more often, and the odds are in our favor for our lives to be disrupted more frequently.
While all families, large and small, are dealing with economic upheavals and changes to routines, large families seem to be more vulnerable to this. In a society that touts that parents should choose to beget only two children, three years apart in age, this pandemic has widened the gulf between those who think large families are great (even if they don’t have a large family themselves) and those who think large families are foolish, perhaps even a detriment to society and the earth.
That said, even parents with one or two kids are still finding this pandemic almost impossible to cope with as they try to work, while educating and caring for their kids.
If ever a time was needed to uphold the value of parents in the workforce, it is this time. For years before the pandemic, I encountered articles and stories of parents struggling to make headway in their careers because they couldn't compete with those who had no children and could give corporations 60 hour work weeks without sacrificing family. With the pandemic, parents are struggling even more to keep up.
Whether parents of large or small families, with one or a dozen (or more) kids, moms and dads bring a life experience to employment that should be valued.
My husband and I are grateful that we both can work from home and that our employers have been understanding and supportive. This is not the experience for everyone though. And so for those parents, those families who are facing extra sacrifices because they have kids (whether it's one child or many), I especially want to say: Hang in there! Don't give up!
My husband read that some people are doing extraordinarily well during the pandemic, while others are suffering severe economic hardship. The divide in our nation is growing between the haves and the have nots. This time of social distance has created a deep need for community support.
This is not to say we shouldn't support the childless. I just wanted to add to the voices of parents with children still at home. I have read that parents tend to be more stoic about sacrificing their careers for their children, but now faced with survival in an acute way, parents are feeling the crushing weight to perform at work despite all the odds. The stress is enormous.
To all families during COVID, you are seen. You are loved. You can do this.
God loves all, the small families, the large families, every individual. And He really does have a plan for your life and the lives of your children. My mom used to quote often that God has no grandchildren, each of us is loved in an individual way with a unique witness, because of each of us is His very own child.
(Although this post is meant for families, I want my readers who have no children to know that God loves you deeply, too. I have friends from all walks of life, and I feel compelled to not leave anyone out.)
Through the millennia, He has proven time and time again that He really will turn even the deepest pain and calamity into something good. He will turn this into good too. Don't give up.
©2020 Emily Woodham