A lot of people are paying extra attention to parents these days. And with Mother's Day nearing closer, I've been hearing more than the usual well wishes to moms. And rightfully so! This sh*t is hard on a good day, but parenting amidst a pandemic? Yeah, it's harder than all the 5,000-piece puzzles combined.
The reason being a mom is so hard right now is because we aren't meant to go it alone.
But I've realised in these six-plus weeks isolated at home with my two children that I'm not necessarily the one who deserves praise. The reason being a mom is so hard right now is because we aren't meant to go it alone. We aren't meant to parent in a vacuum. It's not just a catchy phrase that "it takes a village to raise a child" – it's a universal imperative. And never more than now – when my fellow mom friends and neighbours and community members are relegated to their own homes – have I seen just how demoralizing it is to carry on without them.
Of course it's been hard without the biggest, most present influences in my children's lives. Without the preschool teacher who kept my kiddo happy and engaged for the better part of her waking hours and without the nanny who helped our family get out the door every morning.
Of course it's been hard to not have the aunties and uncles who charmed my kids with their visits and their wide-eyed attention to things – from curious crayon scribbles and long-winded stories about fairies – that only people who engage with children on a part-time basis can muster.
And of course it's been hard to power through without my dearest mom friends. Without our regular Saturday afternoon playdates that were purposefully set up so that the little ones could entertain themselves while we gossiped over coffee and bagels.
But beyond them, it's been particularly surprising to realise the tinier fractures in my parenting village that this pandemic has caused. The near-invisible breaks to our family's day-to-day life that can't be replicated with a quick phone call or video chat. This far into our isolation, I've discovered just how many more people made up my community than I fully realised – never mind appropriately appreciated.
There's the older couple down the street who always waved to us from their front porch. Now they stay inside.
There's the crossing guard and security officer who stood post at the exact same spots along our walk to school and served as daily, smiling reminders to my child that she was safe. Now there's no route we follow on our daily walks, no familiar faces to nod in our direction.
There are the throngs of neighbourhood parents all doing their collective best to teach their kids how to respectfully navigate the crowded playground as they whined for a turn on the swings or pushed past a baby braving a slide. Now padlocked chains are keeping our common ground off limits.
I hope they know how much they've touched our lives already. And how much we need them back as soon as possible.
There's the cashier at the grocery store, who could often tell by the contents of my shopping cart that I had young kids at home and would always ask me how I was doing. Now, even if I stood in her checkout line, we'd be divided by plexiglass partitions, face masks, and downward glances.
There's the strangers we'd pass by on the sidewalk, who'd smile at my kids. Maybe they'd compliment their scooters or their tutus. Now they see us coming and quickly divert to the other side of the street.
There's the toy store clerk who never minded that we'd come in just to play with the train set on our walk to dinner. The mom who let my kids share her son's sidewalk chalk at the park. The baker who'd tell my kids that they made "the best choice ever" after they spent a solid 12 minutes deliberating over the treats in the glass display case. The train conductor who waited a few seconds more for us to sprint up the steps and onto the nearest train car.
Now, those people simply aren't a part of our lives. And we miss them more than we ever realised.
I hope they know, even if I can't see them, that we see them so much better now. Even if I can't reach out and pat their shoulder or shake their hand, I hope they know how much they've touched our lives already. And how much we need them back as soon as possible.
Happy Mother's Day to all of them.