Yesterday, a member posted on Kunik asking: “How has the crisis impacted your relationships?” Another member immediately replied: “Which crisis?”
As a country, we’ve packed a lot into the last few months, and especially into the last few weeks. People say it feels like the world is on fire. That one, small interaction illustrates it perfectly – which crisis indeed.
But even so, life inevitably continues forward, from the mundane, to the scary, to the exciting. Kids are such a pure reminder of that. Our neighborhood had a street dance party for graduates of all ages this week – from kindergarten grads to seniors. One family sent around a playlist and encouraged everyone to press play at the same time so we’d all be outside dancing together. There were streamers, decorations, water balloons and a lot of honking horns. Our dog was terrified, our son had no idea what was happening but kept screaming with the biggest smile on his face.
We’re living in a moment in time when someone can ask “which crisis?”, and not only is it a legitimate question, but they’ll get a different answer depending on whom they’re asking. Despite the enormity and weight of that statement, as working parents, we still need to get through each day. Being a working parent means other people are relying on you – from coworkers to kids.
‘Mom guilt’ or ‘parent guilt’ is always a topic of conversation for working parents, and an important one. Right now I’m seeing it amplified as parents try to support movements, educate themselves and their kids, stand with their communities and/or as allies, and still get our regular work done and dinner on the table – and make sure their family is safe and no one has COVID-19. It’s not possible. I hear parents blaming themselves for being distracted, for not having the energy at the end of the day to participate, read or otherwise engage with people, news or movements they passionately care about. For letting things fall through the cracks. We’re all letting a lot of things fall. I don’t even think it’s cracks anymore, the things that are falling are too big for cracks. Some days it might be your kids’ sleep schedule or virtual class time that fall at the expense of participating in an event you believe in and care about, other days it’s something else. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how hard it is to juggle everything right now. Drop the ‘right now’. It’s always hard, this is a new level.
How many times have you heard the word ‘unprecedented’ or ‘unusual’ in the last few months? More than you can count and enough to make you roll your eyes (or worse) when you hear it, right? I’m with you. But we’re also out of words. We’re out of words to describe a world where you can both ask “which crisis” and at the same time perhaps not feel too heavily impacted by any of the crises, but then feel terribly guilty for being in that position.
Back in March, I wrote that we’re going to need to give ourselves and each other a lot of grace during this time. That’s still true, and we’re going to need more than grace. Everyday I see questions on Kunik that offer me insight into other parents’ worlds. How do you look for a job while pregnant during a pandemic? How can you help teenagers feel they have freedom but keep them safe right now? How do you talk to your kids about race and racism? How should you navigate living with in-laws who want to follow different safety measures? How can you protect your own mental health? The list goes on.
Some of us are more heavily impacted by what’s happening in our country right now than others. For some, ‘which crisis’ is a real and immediate question that impacts your daily life. For others, we’re trying to make it through each day, getting work done and caring for our family in this strange time. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, the stress is real. Hopefully a few months from now we won’t be able to ask “which crisis”. Until then, remember that everything will always keep moving forward. Find that in your kids and let yourself enjoy it for a moment – whether it’s a graduation celebration, first bites of a new food, or a teenager getting their license. In the meantime, keep letting things fall and give more space for grace and understanding than you think you need. Trust me, you probably need even more than that.