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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

Kids need mental health days too

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The past 2 years have brought almost all of us to the edge of our mental health. For some, we’ve fallen over that edge. The global pandemic, financial insecurities, the unknowns of school, health, and isolation are just a few of the issues we have had to deal with that we just didn’t see coming.

We’ve heard lots of experts tell us to take care of ourselves. We’ve been told that our mental health is taking a toll on our bodies and our families. But, what about our kids?

Last week, I saw it.

Our family spent the second and third weeks of school in quarantine…again, and last week was our first week back to “normal”. Settling into school routines, fall sports practices, and church. I was overwhelmed when I realized that I was going to be so busy running my 5 children from one practice to another I may not get to see any of them actually play. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I tried to bribe them with ice cream for dinner in exchange for them quitting sports. I think the majority would have gone for it but I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.

I sat on my couch early Thursday morning completely unraveled and thinking, “I’m not going to make it.”

Later that morning, while at work, I got a message from my daughter’s teacher. During the morning’s routine “Get to know you” question, she had unknowingly triggered my daughter. It was an innocent question, “Do you like your name, and would you change it if you could?”, but she didn’t know that my children were adopted from foster care. When presented with the day’s question, my usually bubbly daughter’s heart broke with the reminder that she did not know the woman who named her. Her teacher, completely caught off guard, felt terrible and reached out to me.

It is true that my daughter wears her heart on her sleeve. It is also true that she was exhausted from the week’s activities. But, I knew there was something else going on and I couldn’t ignore it.

Sure, it could have waited until the end of the school day but I felt God nudge me to not wait. So, when the rest of her class went to lunch that day I picked her up and took her to her choice of restaurant. Pizza, of course.

We munched our pizza and talked about whatever she wanted to talk about. Then, instead of heading back to school, we went home. I had pulled from my stash three pictures. One of her first mom, her biological mom, holding her. One was a selfie with her second mom, her foster mom, who she now calls Gramma. The last was a picture of her and myself, her third mom. Her eyes got a little teary but she smiled so big as she looked at the picture of her biological mom. “She has my eyes!” she exclaimed and my heart swelled.

I let her look through all of the pictures I had and she asked lots of questions. It was therapeutic for her to be able to see what she could not remember. And, it was therapeutic for me to have some one-on-one time with my daughter, rare in our big family.

We snuggled on my bed and watched a new Disney show. Then, we took a nap. When we woke, we both felt lighter, more at peace.

Because really, that’s all we needed. Time away from the rat race of school, sports, and family life. Time to connect. Time to rest.

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