I Thought I Could Keep Everything Normal for my Family

I Thought I Could Keep Everything Normal for my Family

I thought I understood how my daughter was experiencing COVID. And then she wrote this poem.

I thought…

I thought I understood how my 12 year old daughter was experiencing the limitations we are all experiencing due to COVID. I thought I was keeping enough of her life the same so the impact felt minimal and manageable. I thought I was keeping my own anxiety about our family’s health to myself. And then she wrote this poem:

Not the Same

I work just as hard as I did, 

but it’s not the same.

I try harder than I did, 

but it’s not the same.

I spend hours every night and every day

trying to keep up.

Trying not to lose elevation 

from the peak I’ve climbed. 

But no matter what I do, 

it’s not the same.

My parents say change is a good thing—

not this change. 

This change makes moving forward 

like walking through sticky, warm pudding.

Now, it’s not about how hard I try.

It’s not about me. 

It’s much bigger than me.

It’s something I can’t change. 

I feel helpless and vulnerable.

For now — forever more.

I have to find a way to live 

with things not being

the same.

I don’t know when the world will go back to feeling close to “the same,” but I do know that I need to take my head out of the sand and support my daughter’s social-emotional needs during this difficult time. 

Whenever someone experiences a major life change, it is extremely important to connect the lived experience with how they are feeling emotionally. This allows the person to integrate the experience into their life story and not hold onto the event as a trauma. I have not been doing this enough with my own family. I was trying to protect my children from reflecting on the big emotions linked to the COVID changes; however, by not allowing time and space to  express their big emotions I have helped make my daughter feel “helpless and vulnerable. For now —forever more.” By not providing time and space to express the big emotions I have not been able to support her with “I have to find a way to live with things not being the same.”

Well, all this changes tonight. I am going to eat a yummy dinner, exercise, and do whatever else I feel like I need to be in a centered space. Then I am going to sit down and ask my daughter to tell me what this has been like for her. I am going to listen with my whole heart and not try to fix what she tells me. Hopefully this will be the first of many conversations about big emotions around COVID.