By WMM Guest Contributor: Tierney Konitzer
The sky is blue; there are a few, wispy, white clouds in the sky. The sun is bright and the air is warm. My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter goes sprinting down the driveway. “DAAAAADDDDDDDYYYYYYYY!” she yells as she jumps into his arms. Their embrace is magical. I watch as he holds her tight and she squeezes him back. The moment seems to last a beautiful eternity.
“Mama. MAAAAAMMMAAA!” my daughter yells to bring me back to reality. A reality we all share. The reality of COVID-19.
These are scary times.
If I am being honest, I am a bit high-strung. I am used to being anxious and planning for the worst. It is sort of…just me…I guess. But, I have never been this stressed. This anxious. This, sad.
My partner, my daughter’s father, is a critical care/ICU nurse at a local hospital. We made the hard, but necessary, decision to not see each other in person during this time. Ultimately, it is safer. He has a higher chance of being exposed and of exposing us. Being apart is physically safer. Although, I wonder every day if it is mentally and emotionally the best decision.
How do you explain this to a toddler? I mean, I told her there was a sickness in the world and to keep people safe we all have to stay in our homes. That is why she can’t see daddy, grandma, papa, family friends, her friends, etc. She seems to understand that--but not. She is grieving. She is sad. She has random tantrums about nothing, which I know is normal for a toddler. But, these are different. They are real tears. She tells me she is crying because she misses someone, or something that she used to do. She is hurting. She doesn’t understand. This is hard.
It is hard because I am grieving in the same way. I have no idea how to help her with these HUGE emotions because I myself am unsure how to deal with them. I think about her dad. The fact that he has a real chance of getting sick. And what if…
What if he does. What if he gets really sick. What if he ends up in an ICU, not working. What if…what if he doesn’t come back. I can’t let myself think like this much. I don’t think I could function if I did. But, the “what if” creeps into my mind. And I, too, just randomly cry.
I don’t know if it is right or wrong to cry in front of my daughter. At this point, there is no hiding it. Not for me. So I cry, and I tell her I am sad too. That I miss daddy, and the gym, and my work and my friends. I tell her I am scared. And bless her little heart, she tells me it’s okay. That it will be okay. She tells me not cry. She consoles me the way I console her. We have each other, which is comforting to us both.
So, I guess it is good that she sees me have the big emotions too. I guess it is good that she knows I am scared. Why? Because she is also seeing me rise above it. She is seeing me laugh and play with her. Cook dinners, play outside and do art projects. She is seeing us find a new normal together. We are acknowledging our hurt, honoring it and allowing a light to still shine in our lives.
We will continue to FaceTime daddy daily (okay, multiple times a day), talk to our friends and family over the phone. We will continue to do art and mail it out. We will continue to smile through the darkness and send love to everyone we know.
We know one day this will be better. One day, soon, she will run down the driveway and jump into her daddy’s arms. She will hug him, kiss him, snuggle him. He will tickle her, play with her and snuggle her right back.
Love and light to all.