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SOAPBOX: Pandemic mom

On KJZZ's SOAPBOX, The Show  turns over the the mic to listeners. For the spring 2022, writers tackled the theme LOST.

It’s a small, enclosed space, and I’m climbing, gripping … trying to keep up with my agile 2-year-old who has climbed this structure by now … thousands of times. It’s crowded with children that triple his age, and parents that barely fit. We come to a halt when one of them decides to block the entry of a tunnel to carefully choreograph a photo with five children.

It’s taking forever, and my toddler is already losing his 5 seconds of patience spam. This woman won’t move, she is oblivious to my struggle, as I try to hold my son back who wants to escape like a cat. I could feel the fumes coming from underneath my mask.

And then I had an epiphany: “I hate other parents.”

I hate being around large crowds of parents that misbehave with kids, and not the other way round.

What is this? I asked myself. I’m irritable and rude. What happened to the idealist in me that loves families and children?

OK, I don’t really hate other parents. I just hate what this pandemic has done to us. How it has robbed both our children and us of the opportunity to make new friends. And even when we have that opportunity, I still have to choose between those parents who take extra precautions and those who feel they don’t need to.

I know someone invented a calculator of the risk of catching COVID-19 in any given scenario. At a birthday party, inside, outdoors, with people vaccinated, if they are tested, if they traveled internationally, if they visited other people that were sick, etc.

I have become that calculator.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of mother I would have been, before. Is there a Montessori book for pandemic parents?

I wonder, how many more times we could have gathered with family far away in South America or close in California? How much better would I have coped with the uncertainties of being a mom again at 43? What would it have been like if I didn’t have to worry if getting a COVID-19 shot while pregnant was the right choice?

Recently, my 2-year-old reached a milestone. He agreed to wear a mask to go to the children’s museum. How cute, I thought for a second, and then, how sad that this is the world that we are giving him. I’m not against masks, I just worry about how he will grow up. How will he navigate a world filled with people who don’t care if we become the greatest risk to each other?

But my children are wiser than me. They have learned to smile back even when they can’t see me smiling beneath a mask. I sing them songs at night hoping that my love will always protect them and guide them. I hold them close in my heart, and I’m grateful to live one more day to be their mom.

I was born a mom in this time, and just like them, I know no other.

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