Last night I cried.
My husband and I were watching a movie that I had surprisingly never seen before, Saving Private Ryan. Attempting to look at the bright side of our situation, I thought it was a good time to catch up on things I don’t normally have time to enjoy. Halfway through the film, I burst into tears. Full on sobbing, a “struggling-to-catch-my-breath” type of cry. My husband looked over at me in alarm, very confused. I continued to heavily sob for quite some time and then I put myself to bed. I’ve never been one to cry during a movie. Needless to say I was alarmed and confused with myself.
Lately I‘ve been struggling to put my feelings into words. Considering how COVID-19 is impacting us all in a myriad of ways, I’m sure many of you are struggling as well. The daily “normal” is changing rapidly all around us while the things we expect to be stable are crumbling around us.
Just two weeks ago, I didn’t think twice about being able to access necessities such as toilet paper and pain medicine for my teething baby. Going to the store for supplies wasn’t an anxiety-inducing outing. Hospitals were safe and available for regular appointments or (god forbid) emergency care. Schools and programs were available for our children to keep them engaged and learning. In this new normal, it’s difficult to feel grounded because so many things we used to rely on have changed.
After some introspection, I came to the conclusion that the movie triggered a feeling of instability and I failed to hold the anxiety inside any longer. As you may know, Saving Private Ryan is about World War II. The uncertainty during the war, the crumbling world around the characters, the scant access to medical care, the loss – it all mirrors a version of what we are experiencing in current times. All these feelings bubbled up at the same time to manifest into one explosive eruption of sadness.
As a parent, it is difficult to navigate these feelings and to know how to communicate the state of the world to my children. I feel like it is my duty to filter out the unnecessary noise and fear-mongering media and instead communicate tactfully how this is going to affect our lives. But it is difficult to support them in this way because I don’t know how damaging this will be to our lives. I don’t know how long we will be living in this socially-distanced world. I don’t know the next time my children can see their friends or go to the park. How do I comfort my daughter and tell her “everything is going to be ok” when I honestly don’t know myself? How do I explain to her that I can’t find the simple supplies we need like baby wipes?
I don’t have a lot of answers to these questions, as I’m sure nobody does. But what I can say is that I plan to educate myself with the facts, to do my part, and to focus my energy on the good. I hear stories of people stepping up to support one another, such as gyms offering free virtual workouts, teachers going above and beyond to offer web-based education for their students, and schools giving away free meals to children who don’t have food at home. I can show my daughters how everyone in the world is fighting this together, and the ways in which we come together to support one another.
Times like these bring out either the best or the worst in people. I see so many people online bickering with one another, blaming each other for the state of the world, and tearing each other down. But I also see good. Let’s all do our part to fight this common enemy. Let’s flatten the curve and give our health care workers a fighting chance to save lives. Let’s not be another statistic, but be a part of the solution. Let’s come together because in the end we all want the same thing. Let’s do our best to have this be a learning experience for our children instead of a trauma.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people that are helping’” – Mr. Rodgers