COVID was hard for many, devastating for some, but for others it was the great equalizer. Except for a couple of online social events, where I would see couples sharing a Zoom screen, during COVID the majority of my social interactions were with people in Zoom boxes who likely had a child or a pet making noise in another room. My more personal interactions were largely with other single women, many of whom were single moms, who were also doing this by themselves.
COVID took one huge thing off my list of responsibilities, figuring out childcare. I was just like everyone else it seemed, working with a five year old in the other room, and the fact that most of the people I was working with had another adult in their home to help rarely occurred to me.
COVID took one of many major responsibilities off my shoulders. I didn’t always have to figure out when someone scheduled any meeting, event, or activity, what I was going to do with Zoya, how I was going to keep her with me, drop her off and pick her up somewhere on time, or find child care. I didn’t work less, but it was all so much easier. Many solo parents told me the same thing. Being mandated to stay at home made it all so much easier. Not all, particularly those who had jobs that didn’t allow them to work from home. It was the great equalizer for many, but at the same time impacted everyone in a vastly different ways.
When people would complain about being forced to stay home, I had a very hard time relating. Many times I was left wondering just how different “normal” life must be for them if they could complain about being home with their children.
Coming out of COVID has been very jarring. It’s not only that I’m expect to be places and add have added the responsibility of figuring out child care, or how to drop Z off at school at the same time I”m on a Podcast, or whether to take 90 minutes of travel out of my mom and home responsibility time, or my work time. It is also that I’m now constantly reminded that most don’t carry the work load of a single parent. I was sitting in a meeting of other executives the other day with similar work related responsibilities and looked around the room realizing that every single other person in the room had a spouse at home helping with the other life responsibilities, someone who shared the responsibilities, so they didn’t owe them a debt of gratitude or money for being with their child while they were in the meeting. I cried on the way home. I’m expected to run at the same pace as everyone else, while carrying the weight of two. And I know I don’t have it nearly as hard as so many others.
I know I was disproportionally inclined to love COVID because for a year it gave me what I’ve wanted since I was a little girl. I was able to be a stay at home mom and be with my child. Not everyone has that desire, and yes, I was still working full-time, so it wasn’t quite as planned, but at least I got to have it.
So while, we are enjoying seeing people face to face, and hope to enjoy travel soon, I’m grieving the end of a relatively very restful year, a year where I was able to build strong connections to other single parents who were the only adult in their homes for months at a time, and a year where my life was a little easier than “normal” life.
I can rejoice with those who have worked tirelessly for the last year and are finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. COVID did not hit us all the same. Many had jobs or life circumstances that were greatly complicated by COVID. Many worked more hours combatting COVID than they normally do in two years. Many lost loved ones due to COVID. For some, the hopeful end of this pandemic is a cause of pure rejoicing.
But for some “normal life” is hard. I’ll always be grateful for 2020 and the chance to be home with Zoya for months at a time. One thing I’m carrying out of COVID that really had just started to be a thought a little before COVID, is a deep passion for helping people see the challenges of the solo parent. So often we only think about how decisions, policies, and plans affect the majority, or the people with responsibilities similar to our own. We don’t see how the often little things affect some so differently. It’s sometimes little things, that can be so easily changed with a few words. “If you want prayer please come forward after the service and make sure you pick up your child from Sunday School as soon as the service is over.” I haven’t written much about this yet, but I’ve had amazing opportunities to talk about in this past season, and I don’t expect to stop anytime soon.
If you are rejoicing and celebrating that a truly hard season is ending, rejoice and celebrate. I’m truly sorry this season has been so hard and happy that you are rejoicing.
However, if you feel as if the world is rejoicing, while you grieve, I understand. You are not at all alone.