Pandemic Parenting Taught Me I Can Be a Good Mom Without Extra Effort

During the first year of my child’s life, pandemic parenting taught me I can be a good mom without extra effort, even though the experience was unlike anything I could have anticipated. The lessons learned in that time were invaluable.

As if it were yesterday, I recall the birth of my second child, just before everything closed due to COVID-19, like it was yesterday. Strangely, I still feel stuck in March 2020, as though we have yet to progress. But this tiny kid who has grown and matured into a spirited toddler had kept me somewhat grounded when the days passed slowly and very quickly.

He arrived a couple of weeks early, just as the news about the virus became frightening and my 2-year-daycare old’s announced it would be closed for at least two weeks.

I had diligently prepared for this birth, genuinely feeling confident and knowing what I was doing (moms seldom get to feel this way, so it was a blessing), but as we all know, you can never be prepared for everything when it comes to infants.

The year he was born was difficult. Very, so hard. In retrospect, however, it taught me a great deal about parenting. Here are five things I learned while raising a newborn during a pandemic that may be applied whenever life feels a little out of the ordinary.

It Does Take a Village. However, Your Village May Be Remote

My mother-in-law, who had traveled in from out of state, stayed for five days following the birth of the baby, until the lockdowns began. Could she possibly return? Would the airports close shortly? Due to the shortage, will there even be enough toilet paper for another adult in our home? With tears running down my cheeks, I saw her at the airport as we dropped her off. I was sad to see her go, but I knew it was the correct decision.

My mother was scheduled to arrive from the opposite side of the nation that week, but we deemed it too unsafe, so she canceled her ticket. I told her, half-jokingly, that the infant would be walking by the time she met him. (My forecast was accurate. Thirteen months later, he approached her for the very first time.)

Without any relatives in our town, we were entirely alone. And beginning one week postpartum, I spent many evenings alone while my husband worked overnights as a frontline worker.

I can only express gratitude for technology. I spent the entire day and night texting and video chatting with my mother and my community, asking so many questions you’d think I’d never met another infant. Why is he weeping? Why isn’t he sleeping? Why will he not eat? “What am I to do with him once more?”

While social separation is anything but natural, it reminded me that even if someone cannot be physically present, they can still be of tremendous assistance. I promise to be more helpful the next time one of my friends has a child, even if I am not physically present. A simple “How are you?” text message can make someone feel less alone.

Children Do Not Need to Be Constantly Busy

I crammed my firstborn’s schedule with indoor playground outings, music classes, and storytime at the library. Obviously, none of these things occurred with the second child. We essentially spent the first year of our relationship staring at each other day after day. Okay, we also read books, played with toys, and danced to CoComelon music. And what do you know? He is as content and matures as my first son.

I used to feel guilty if I didn’t take my first child out to do something, but I’ve since understood that infants may find happiness and amusement in nearly anything, including a piece of fur on the floor.

Little Things Should Be Appreciated

Honestly, I used to dread attending infant music classes and indoor playgrounds (they’re not nearly as entertaining for adults as they are for children). During the pandemic, though, I would have given anything to be able to communicate with them again.

I missed mommy-and-me coffee sessions with other parents in the neighborhood, where we would commiserate over breastfeeding difficulties and middle-of-the-night awakenings. I missed bringing my child to a restaurant and watching his face light up when they offered him his own cup and swirly straw. I missed going to the grocery store with my family and playing our own version of Supermarket Sweep, sometimes known as a competitive shopping race. And it makes me so sad that my pandemic-born child could not experience these things in its early years.

I will endeavor to never again take these seemingly insignificant things for granted.

Kids Are Resilient

I’ve frequently questioned whether or not I’m doing anything correctly. When I speak with my pals, I realize I am not alone. Parenting is normally difficult, but when you add the obstacles of a pandemic, self-doubt creeps into every decision you make.

However, as hesitant and anxious as I was throughout my first year as a parent when my kid smiles, I know everything will be alright. We have not yet taken him on a family trip, and his first birthday celebration took place on Zoom, but he is content. And it is all that I care about.

Parents Are Resilient, Too

When my son turned one, I quietly celebrated my personal accomplishment: surviving my first year as a mother.

Parents, in my utterly humble view, deserve a massive celebration for surviving the years of the pandemic. Parents who homeschool their children while maintaining full-time employment are the ultimate heroes.

Preparing mentally for what life would be like once the pandemic was over was a big help to me. And here is what I now envision: a mother capable of overcoming any obstacle.

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