I get nervous visiting the pediatrician ever since my kids became old enough to answer the nurse’s preliminary questions on their own. Will they tell the truth about how few fruits and vegetables they eat? That they rarely wear their bicycle helmets when they’re racing around the neighborhood? About the times my husband let them sit on his lap on the drive home from daycare (it was one block away) or take a sip of his beer?
Last week on my way to get groceries I got stuck sitting and waiting for a train (which, with zero timetable was one of the only times in my life this did not annoy me at all). Next to me was a car driven by an older woman smoking a cigarette. As I glanced her way a second time, I realized it was one of our pediatrician’s nurses. Maybe this woman who had nodded her head and typed my family’s imperfections into our permanent medical records was not judging us all along. Maybe the shame I felt at those moments was all my own.
This pandemic, and being quarantined inside of our homes, has brought all kinds of emotions to the surface. During the last few days, I’ve seen more Facebook bickering (that I admittedly must force myself to tear my eyes away from) but I’ve also noticed more people admitting they’re falling apart a little. There aren’t quite as many shiny pictures because there aren’t quite as many shiny moments. Our kids might climb a tree in the backyard, they might do a little extra math practice than what’s assigned, they might even change their underwear a few times this week, but we don’t have a whole lot to humblebrag about right now.
I’ve heard the groundhogs day allusion used a lot during the past several weeks because it’s so true. We’ve been waking up each morning to a day that probably looks a lot like the day before. We do the best we can. Sometimes we cry little while making muffins, sometimes we lose it on our kids because they left their ice cream bowls out in the living room again, sometimes we let them play video games for four hours straight because, well, what else are they going to do? And isn’t it nice to have a little quiet time while we’re trying to work?
My son is not quite the required 4’ 8” tall and sitting in the front seat of my car and his nurse is in the car next to us smoking a cigarette — and maybe we’re finally ready to admit that nobody’s really got it all together.
I keep hearing it repeated that we hope we can all come out of this pandemic a little more kind. Maybe that includes a little more kindness for ourselves.