Note: This post includes discussion of the pandemic, which can be polarizing. If this is not a topic you want to read about or that you cannot engage with respectfully, it is simple enough to click out and move on.
Weathering The Storm
The past few years have often felt like being stuck in an unceasing, unrelenting storm. The entire world was faced with many unknowns, sudden and difficult changes, and loss. No one has made it through the pandemic completely unscathed, though each of our “hard times” have surely varied.
Being in survival mode for so long affects people. I can say without a doubt that since early 2020: 1) my life has changed, and 2) I have changed.
When the rain falls down
Pre-pandemic, I assume most people weren’t exactly living lives full of nothing but sunshine and rainbows. Generally speaking, I felt happy enough, but I can also tell you I didn’t exactly love my job, my social life was pretty unremarkable, we were foster parents (which is chaotic and overwhelming a lot, regardless), and sometimes my husband and I were more like roommates than a couple. However, thinking back on it now, pre-pandemic problems seem so small in comparison to what people have endured since early 2020, at least in my opinion.
When the metaphorical first drops of rain started to hit in March 2020, I remember feeling cautiously optimistic. The “we’re all in this together” vibe was going strong! Obviously that feeling didn’t last as we got pelted with more and more.
Basically, added stress, in general, is what affected me most. Eventually it led to me taking a year and a half hiatus from blogging. That stress predominately came from:
- concerns about our health and staying safe
- juggling working from home full-time while parenting two toddlers without outside childcare and a school-age child in virtual school
- in July 2021, I left my career to become a stay-at-home mom
- lack of resources (i.e. additional support) as a result of pandemic precautions
- added foster care limitations or additional hoops to jump through
- more adversity in trauma parenting because of intensified behavioral issues from our foster son due to increased mental health issues developed in the face of the pandemic
Additionally, my grandfather passed away in November 2020 (non-Covid related), and I chose not to travel several states away to say goodbye/for services because of our inability/unwillingness to travel out-of-state with our three foster (soon-to-be-adopted) children to a hotspot at the height of the pandemic. It was an extremely tough decision to make.
On the parenting front, things already felt really difficult because foster care presents its own issues, but we also went from caring for zero children to three in a matter of three months just shortly before the pandemic hit.
Throughout, stress led to strains, and that just added to the storm.
It probably doesn’t seem like much, I’m sure, but again, nothing affects everyone in the same way. Everything weighed so heavily on me. Outlets for stress relief were really limited because of restrictions and precautions. I felt very isolated and overwhelmed. My mental health plummeted and has yet to recover.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
At some point, I realized I couldn’t keep standing in the midst of the storm, hoping it will pass and everything will go back to “normal.” Once my mental health took a downward turn, switching from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset became easier said than done. Wrangling in my anxiety or finding a glimmer of light from behind my depression proved(/s) more difficult than I ever thought possible. Really, it’s all very much a work in progress. Sulking and spiraling is not an option anymore, though.
I recognize that I have a lot to be grateful for. When many were let go or laid off, my husband and I were able to continue working, as we were both considered essential. I did end up leaving my job, however looking back, my husband and I both feel it was for the best. It’s been over a year, and I still feel like I’m adjusting — being a SAHM was never my dream, but I have grown to love being so much more involved in the kids’ day-to-day.
One of the biggest highlights of the past few years was adopting the three children we had been fostering! Most days are harder than I care to admit. Parenting is tough, regardless, but trauma parenting is something I never feel prepared for, despite all of the therapists’ advice, books, podcasts, etc. Trauma parenting during a pandemic is next level! We have some fantastic providers helping us to cope, learn, and grow together as a family, though.
Soon after the adoption and amidst a housing crisis, we bought a new house! The space compared to our old townhouse is a God-send!
And here we are!
learning to dance in the rain
I know that working on bettering my mental health needs to be a priority. In that regard, I’m trying to find my footing as I learn to dance in the rain.
Getting back into blogging is only one way that I am working towards a happier, healthier me. I need an outlet as well as an identity outside of mom and wife. It’s only one of many steps, but if I just remember to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, sooner rather than later, more things will fall into place. The storm will change over to sunlight, and who knows…maybe there will even be a rainbow to show for it.