All three of my kids are watching documentaries, sprawled around the living room with individual screens and headphones. I sheepishly offered this reward after we spent an hour cleaning the first floor, their faces tight as my anxiety poured over the house. Their arguments against cleaning at 8 a.m. silenced by my panic, which I usually hide well, but not today. Today I read that article about this potentially lasting eighteen months, about the long-term dangers not just to the elderly and immune-comprised.
Today I think about my parents and my vision goes blurry. Today my asthmatic cough, bad for a couple of months now, brings acid up my throat and I picture the emergency room, by myself, and the chain reaction that would occur. No matter the path, it never ends in a sunny spot in my wild imaginings.
Today I panicked, the first time really, even when my son was hospitalized for a week until just a few days ago. Hospitalized for something totally different, but still terrifying and consuming — and still I didn't feel like this. Parenting is always hard. Our family experiences what feels like endless challenges and crises. We have difficult diagnoses, strong behaviors, school needs, and appointments that disrupt my sleep and weigh on us daily. But I've learned not to give in to dread or hopelessness. If I cry and shake, it's short and hard and then over before you'll ever see.
This morning I looked out the window at my parent's car, parked next to the live-in apartment attached to our home, and the fear of losing them punched me so hard that I doubled over.
"This house is disgusting!" I stormed, targeting my children as they played with Legos in the other room. "Get up and help me!"
No calm parent voice. No morning meeting to start our homeschool day. As a former teacher, and a parent who has been trained to maintain her cool in the face of large-scale meltdowns, I know better than to yell like this, to scream my disappointment, to name-call my own children.
"I'm not your servant!" I snarl. "Why are you so lazy!"
The ugliness startles my children. They're used to my loud, Jewish-mom complaining — but not this unkindness. Not this anxiety-fueled rage.
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