Our series of articles continues this month with a focus on the emotional destruction and struggle brought on by the pandemic. We’re all feeling it, directly or indirectly. Maybe not all the time, maybe not everyday. But when it comes It can feel like a heavy smothering blanket, leading us to feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, and a spectrum of other valid emotions.
From a mother’s perspective, we get a look at how this pandemic stress is even affecting those too young to even understand what a pandemic is. Regardless of your personal, individual situation I ask you to see yourself somewhere in the story. Maybe you’re the mother. Maybe you’re the young son. Leave room for yourself to feel hard feelings, to feel tired, to be REAL.
WE’RE A NORMAL FAMILY
Liam (age 6) has always been what some would say a “strong willed child”. My husband and I saw some of it but most of the time, I carried his little butt to pre-school, and then elementary school, and really did not have to face this “strong willed child” head on. Our family was the typical soccer, church, playdates, cub scouts, and neighborhood get together type of family. We would get a few poor behavior stickers and notes from the teachers but we handled it during the evenings and weekends.
The pandemic hit and I was forced to work from home, my husband (lucky guy) continued going to the office. Feeling intense obligation, I found myself as a teacher, principle, PE instructor, nurse, cafeteria lady, janitor, and every other person who courageously works in the public-school arena… overnight!
Soccer and cub scouts were put on hold. Church was restricted, and the neighborhood hangouts were filled with paranoia and distrust so they ceased. These unappreciated outlets we once knew appeared to have vanished. This virus – damned virus! – has eerily created what seemed to be an unbreakable glass bubble around me and Liam during the day.
A MOTHER OUT OF CONTROL
This standstill began with an eye-opening awareness that overtook me one day. It was if I was experiencing an out of body experience, watching a movie, or looking into a box where my life was being portrayed. I saw myself as a mother who was out of control, manic, overwhelmed, angry, desperate, unorganized, anxious, defeated, and depressed.
Liam took on a new talent of pooping in his pants. Yep, pooping in his pants. There was no rhyme or reason. He just “forgot” or “did not have time” to go sit on the toilet. This of course was not on any given schedule, that would be too easy. He pooped his pants various times of the day…generally when I was on a conference call.
“Forgot”?! I may forget to feed, school, or make sure your 6-year-old butt sits on the toilet so you won’t poop your pants when I have a critical, mandatory Zoom conference call I have to attend! Just sit in it, I think.
“Don’t have time?!” What time don’t you have? I am the one who has no time to earn a living to keep you alive, I shout to myself inside my head.
Liam’s “strong willed childness” escalated to full blown scary unexplainable defiance.
His excuses and once cute “puppy dog eyes” became eyes resembling one of an evil Lord Voldemort on the Harry Potter series. I was forced to seek guidance for not only Liam but for myself. I was consumed with guilt, anger, fear, impatience, frustration, and the “beating myself up-ness” moms do so well.
I learned it wasn’t about Liam pooping in his pants. It was about the home environment, changes, situation, and lack of coping skills our family had never had to have.
DON’T CALL CPS!
Don’t call CPS on me yet. I adore my child. I terribly miss, and also appreciate with an overwhelming thankfulness, our life before this pandemic. The fact is, I was forced to learn how to cope and deal with this stuff – all through talk therapy. I have to admit, my 6-year-old son is the instrument which led me to seek the knowledge I should have gained years ago. I am stronger and wiser… through all of the poop.
Thank you, Liam.
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CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach
Empowering individuals, families and communities to grow and heal through advanced approaches in Creative Arts Therapy, setting the standard for treatment, practice and training within the field.