Mothers everywhere are collectively screaming inside their hearts.
We are tired. We are anxious. We are uncertain. We are lonely while simultaneously craving an entire day without the presence of anyone else. And we see no end in sight.
We want our normal lives back.
We want to go to the grocery store and find the shelves stocked (Where are all the Clorox wipes? I haven’t seen one since March). We want to be able to go inside with the kids (who would ever think that would be a wish?) because we want to browse or simply allow the children to see the inside of a building that isn’t our home. We don’t want our only alone time to be a weekend trip to the grocery store while our spouse stays with the kids.
We want pools and birthday parties. We want amusement parks, aquariums, and museums. We want festivals, fairs, and parades.
We want swimming lessons and baseball games and summer camp. We want movie theaters and arcades. We want playgrounds and parks.
We want vacations. We want to fly. We want to wander and explore and expose our littles to the world. We want to go to Disneyland and the beach. We want to take advantage of traveling while being stationed abroad or exploring somewhere new if we live in the States.
We want a date night. We want to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or just a Saturday. We want dinner with wine, appetizers, great entrees, and dessert. We want to hire a babysitter without a second thought. We want to laugh and meet new friends over a pint of beer. We want to have a Mom’s Night Out. We want concerts and theater shows. We want weddings and retirement parties and graduations.
We want a cut, color, and a pedicure. We need one.
We want to go back to school shopping, allowing our kids to pick out pencil pouches, backpacks, new shirts, and shoes. We want to buy hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes (!) as simply as we did last August. We want to snap First Day of School photos with a grin from behind the camera, not with heavy, anxiety-burdened hearts.
We want a family dinner out where our biggest worries are if they have a kid’s menu and whether we charged the iPad.
We want sports.
Professional, college, school age, and pee-wee: we will not be picky. We want our dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading classes. We want to cheer and play and watch without worry about anything except whether our favorite team will prevail.
We want to send our kids to school.
We want them there five days a week, all day, able to learn and socialize and laugh and play. We want them to socially engage, not distance themselves. We want them to sweat and yell, to play and sing. We want them to laugh and trade lunch snacks and share birthday treats. We want field trips and field days.
We want our teachers to be thrilled and excited to be returning to the classroom. We want them looking to the upcoming school year with excitement and anticipation, not with fear and uncertainty. We want them to feel safe.
We want to drop our kids off at daycare knowing that they are not only in safe hands but also in a safe environment. We want our biggest worry to be a fall that results in a bloody lip, not a potentially life-threatening infection.
We want to go back to work. We want to put on real clothes, shoes, and makeup. We want to drive our car and sit in an office without a mask and do our jobs as we did before. We want to work normal hours and not frantically seek childcare for school-age children.
We never want to Zoom again.
We want our college students to go away to college and meet new people. We want them to socialize, learn, and grow in the environments they deserve.
We want to greet our spouse at the end of the day with relief and happiness, not with worry about who or what (s)he came into contact with during the last twelve hours. We want them to go TDY without worry about travel and exposure at an airport, a different city, a rental car, or meetings in rooms with new people.
We want to Trick or Treat.
We want to visit with grandparents often and without worry. We don’t want to lose sleep wondering if our parents are wearing their masks and using hand sanitizer. We want family reunions.
We want to know when this will end. We want to know that it will end. We want to go back to normal. We want to feel safe again.
We are frustrated with those that act cavalierly and selfishly. We scrutinize shared photos with a new lens of, “Were you social distancing? Are you making this worse? Are you part of the problem?” We have a new topic to argue about on social media. And though this issue is rooted in science, so there shouldn’t be more than one agreed-upon “side,” we still argue.
While I know this isn’t the same as families living during, say, a World War, I imagine some of the sentiments are similar.
We are trapped in this time of absolute turmoil and upheaval, and there is little to nothing we can truly do (aside from wearing a mask and staying home as much as possible.) We don’t know how long this era will last, how many lives will be lost, and what life will be like “on the other side.” When you step back and look at this from a distance, it is sadly a historic and hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime era.
We are also angry and frustrated.
I am not a scientist. But I do believe those that have dedicated their lives to studying public health and infectious disease. If we follow their directives – wear a mask, keep your distance, stay home unless necessary – we can flatten our curve.
We are an absolute worldwide embarrassment at this point with our numbers. Embarrassment is not my concern, but it is absurd that we are in this predicament. Many other developed nations have managed to get a grip on the virus and tentatively get back to a normal that we seem drastically far from. If we as a country were less selfish and more selfless, we could be looking at the first day of school with excitement instead of dread and uncertainty.
At the time of this writing, we are 30 days out from the first day of school and still don’t know how many days, if any, our children will be attending in person. I know our community is not alone. I also don’t have faith that we will not all be back to virtual learning by October.