You're probably thinking the world doesn't need another complain post about how sucky quarantine life is. But I feel like my situation is a little different than the homeschooling parents, baby peeps, and still working angels. My little Layla was born in December and my maternity leave lasted about 16 weeks since I had her early. I was set to return to work on March 23rd. Guess what? I never went back thanks to COVID-19 and the state of Connecticut closing. The school I work at closed on March 20th, and we are still closed with no end in sight. My maternity leave went from a little over three months to almost six months and counting.
Don't get me wrong, more and more I am thankful for the time I've spent at home, and more and more don't really want to go back to work, BUTit is also really sucky and some days I feel like I'm in a fog. I am not one of the grocery-going mask-wearers either. My mom does our grocery shopping, my husband is an essential worker so he can pick up random things I need, and the places I would want to go are closed (parks, walks in town, library). I literally have not left my house since March 20th (did a final Target YOLO run!).
One of the main reasons I love my job so much is that my children get to come with me. I pay a small fortune for this to happen, but I work two doors down from where Layla's room would've been, and down the hall from Lincoln. What better deal could I ask for? Returning from maternity leave with Lincoln was terrifying. If we didn't need the money, I wouldn't have gone back. But the longer I worked and the more I saw the perks of him growing in this early childhood environment, the more I wanted to stay at work and have him be there. I wanted the same for Layla.
Due to this pandemic, I can't give her the invaluable education and experiences that Lincoln had at her age. I am constantly worrying that I am not doing as much as I should be with her. She doesn't interact with babies her age or the amazingly, caring teachers at school. She doesn't do as many fun sensory projects, group reading times, messy paint, and all the things she would if she were at school. Which brings me to one of the worst parts of quarantine...
Holy shit. You haven't felt mom guilt until you literally never get a break and savor 5 minutes in the bathroom alone, only to feel bad because your kid is sitting watching Blippi for an hour on loop. Why do we as mothers do this to ourselves? Quarantine life is like the newborn stage. You do what you have to do to get by until it passes. The only difference is, time continues on. Newborns grow, and we know that by 3-4-5-6 months, sleep improves, your baby becomes independent, and you get your life back. But this pandemic... when does it end?
A few more weeks...months...years? How can we sustain the survival mode for such an extended amount of time? At what point are we supposed to accept that this is life now? Two babies under two aren't supposed to be stuck home with only mom as their friend. I like being their companion and them needing me and all, but they need and deserve more. Their brains are developing so fast and time continues forward, but nothing changes. Days just pass.
Layla hasn't experienced a swing yet, the noise of a classroom, the love from a teacher, or the giggle of another baby. She hasn't gotten to listen to another voice read her a book. She hasn't gone for a buggy walk with friends downtown. Lincoln knows what he's missing, which makes it so much worse. He asks for friends and beloved teachers. He runs out to the car and says drive (which we do with no destination).
I'm sad for myself being stuck at home, but I'm more sad for my kids whose experiences are being taken from them. We can't control this pandemic or what will happen. It's scary to not know when we are safe and when life will be normal again.