In two days time I will have been in lockdown with my three boys, aged 9, 7 and 2 for 10 weeks. Our lockdown life began back on March 15, when we developed Covid-19 symptoms and started to self-isolate.
I remember how long 14 days alone sounded at that time. We made a cute little post-it note panel with 14 stickers to cross out til we would be 'done'. I had a kind of naive optimism at that point that feels very far away today.
By the time we were done with being sick (three of us having full Covid-19 illness, followed by my own secondary chest infection then my toddler’s secondary croup infection) we were at home, fully isolated for 42 days.
100% responsible for three boys and myself.
The hammering my mental health took in the final week of that stretch is something I hope never, ever to revisit. I was exhausted, lonely, in abject despair if I’m totally honest. I cried, and I cried and I cried.
I read a post about a single mother who committed suicide. As the waves of hopelessness crashed over me I realised with a shock that I understood her. Not that I wanted to be her, or that I was suicidal myself. But that I had crossed an invisible ravine, where before I would have empathised with how hard it can be to be alone, and felt terribly sad for her loss… Now I was tipped into a place where I shared a deep knowledge of what those dark places can hold for a mother entirely alone. I was triggered into a grief that felt as personal as anything I’ve ever felt for someone I love.
For the first time since lockdown began, I posted on social media about how badly I was feeling myself.
I'll be honest, I have been through some shitty things in my life, but I have never been pushed to these places. I've had access to all kinds of support I took for granted because I simply didn't know what life could be like without those things. I'm talking about very simple things. Coffee with a friend, lunch with my parents, a second pair of adult hands at home. Even access to the dreaded soft-play where I could throw them at some physical activity and catch a break for an hour or two.
Strip back all of those resources and you get stripped down to the essential part of yourself at the same time.
Who am I being right now? What kind of mother am I in this space? Am I showing up the way I want my kids to be loved and cared for, despite the frightening things happening in the world?
I'm not sure.
I’m starting to blog about our Lockdown Life because I would like other lone parents to know that they are not alone if this pandemic is hitting their family like a landslide. I want to share what I’m learning, how I’m coping, and what’s working (and what’s not) just in case it helps another parent to get perspective, or to ask for help. I want you to know that the happy Facebook pictures you see are not the only thing that is going on inside our home, any more than they are in your home or the homes of countless others across the world.
If you're having a hard time some (or heck even all) of the time, it's ok. It will be ok.
Having a hard time is proportionate right now to what is happening, it's rational, it's reasonable. But it's not how any of us can live indefinitely, so we have to start problem solving some of this shitty situation together. Consult the hive-mind to figure this shit out.
I really truly want to hear from you if you are parenting alone right now - please share what your experience in the comments and talk about what you need!
I'm not saying my experiences are representative of all Lone Parents. Our lives won’t always look the same, or at times even close to each others. I’ll have more resources than some of you and less than others. I'll have my kids more than some of you do, and less than others. It's not a competition, or a 'poor me' contest. I invite you to be resourceful. Honest. Compassionate. Let’s share what we can, support each other with love and try to open up to curiosity in these confusing times. No judgment will come from me.
The thing is, as the weeks creep by I realise that (while this isn’t going to be normal forever) Pandemic Lone Parenting is definitely the new normal for me for some time… and while I have found my mental health dipping and rising again - at times in quite an alarming fashion - I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.
So I’m breaking the silence. For me, for you, for everyone who can’t raise their voice today to say ‘I’m struggling’. For our kids. Who need us to be well, in the most messed up of times.
This is an open invitation to you to join me in a conversation, staying sane together.
Nina Farr X
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