Momming Ain’t Been Easy: Two Pediatrician Moms' Tribute To You
This pediatrician has watched your mental battles from the sidelines this year, Mama.
2020 was not an easy year to be a mom.
Personally, I can tell you it kind of sucked, right? Just a little. The pandemic brought about so many hard choices that NO mother should ever have to make. My brain’s stream-of-consciousness ran a little something like this:
“Should I let my kids play with other kids? Will they get sick if they do? Will not interacting with others harm them more than catching COVID will? Should we start in-person school? Will masking all day be hard for them? Is virtual school a better option for us? Will looking at a screen all day hurt my kid’s eyes? Will lack of interaction with peers lead to social regressions? Are my kids eating and snacking too much? Do I need to choose between my kids seeing their friends, and my kids seeing their grandparents? Is my child in his room too much? Is he exercising enough? Is he sad too often? Is social media going to influence his behavior? Is it normal for sleep to be this much of a struggle – for both me and my kid? Am I telling my kids to wash their hands too much? Will this give them a germ complex? What do I tell my kids when they see those protests on the street? What do I tell them when they see the news on TV? What do I say when they hear people angry and shouting at each other?”…and so on and so forth…over and over…and for me, usually happening at 3 a.m.
So now that you know that I worried about a lot of the same things you did, let’s talk.
This Mother’s Day I’d like to tell you about what I’ve seen and heard in the privacy of my exam rooms.
More anxiety than I’ve ever seen in my career. In both parents and kids.
More depression in children and teens.
More mental crises.
More weight gain.
More screen addiction.
More sleep problems.
More suicidal thoughts.
Momming has never been more difficult. Not only have we been burdened by our own mental struggles, but we’re trying to cope with our kids’ mental strain now more than ever.
- “Put on your own oxygen mask first – and then help your children with theirs”. Take care of yourself so that you can then throw that energy into your child and his/her struggles.
- Look for help – Cook Children’s pediatricians, psychologists, and psychiatrists and hospital staff are here for you. We know kids - especially the mental health of kids. Check out the new Cook Children’s JOY Campaign for TONS of resources.
- Please, ask questions. If your kid is struggling, ask your pediatrician – will some socializing be okay? Should my kiddo return to school/ go to camp? Is it safe? What are the pros/cons? What is the risk by doing this activity or that one? How much screentime is healthy for my kid? Is this behavior normal, or is my teenager showing signs of a problem? What are some resources so I can learn more?
- Look into counseling. At my office EVERY DAY I tell parents: every single human on the planet goes through a time in their life where they’d benefit from therapy. Do it. Don’t feel weird about it. Just go talk to someone – and take your kid to talk to someone. Psychologists are trained to help you through this.
From one mom to another: we are not meant, as humans, to deal with as much stress as we have in the past year and come out unscathed.
There’s a reason you keep hearing the word “unprecedented” when it comes to 2020 and 2021. The pandemic, the politics, the civil unrest - this was a year that no one anticipated, and no one was prepared for. Know that you’re not alone in what you or your child may be dealing with.
So put down your armor, you warriors. And reach out your arms and accept some help! And give yourself a little grace.
This year was a scary and painful mess. And this Mother’s Day, no matter how much you yelled at your kids, no matter how much you felt you didn’t have the answers, and no matter how much you questioned your decisions, I want you to pat yourselves on the back. Because just surviving has been the victory here. And you’re doing the best you can.
Every day there is a gesture or action from mothers, grandmothers, and mother figures that likely goes unnoticed and should be applauded and praised. Especially in the last year those mothers/grandmothers/mother-figures did the unthinkable and survived the unprecedented year we call 2020 and still tirelessly continue their efforts into 2021. So this Mother’s Day, join me in giving them the much-deserved praise.
- To the working moms who tackled virtual learning with kids at home and still managed to do their own job from home or whose job could only be done by physically showing up to work. Way to go and hooray for a return to in-person learning (Teachers we thank you too!)
- To the stay-at-home moms whose isolation and sense of loneliness reached a peak during the lockdowns. KUDOS to you for being so strong through this and yay for the gradual return of playdates and social interaction.
- To the first-time moms who experienced pregnancy and delivery with so many restrictions and rules that quickly vanished your ideal thoughts of what having your baby would be like. Congratulations on your perseverance through this mess!
- To the grandmothers who were suddenly stripped of the joy of being physically close to your grandchildren, we know how hard it was to be physically distant from your loved ones. Hooray for vaccines and getting to hug and kiss your loved ones once again!
- To those that have lost a mother/mother figure we know the upcoming holiday will be especially hard. Regardless of the cause of death of the loved one, it is especially true that this year many more people than usual will be spending this day without their beloved mother/mother figures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no magical activity or remedy that will suddenly wipe away the pain of missing someone. So let yourself be ok with knowing that the void that person has left may be immense but to also acknowledge the huge role your mom played and still continues to play in your life, you may find some relief or a sense of peace.
I personally experienced two of these (working mom multi-tasking galore and the loss of my grandmother) in the last year and while it has not been easy, I know it has shaped me in a way no other experience will, and for that I am thankful. I hope you spend today and every other day knowing that you are appreciated and that you ROCK!
Happy Mother’s Day.