“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Yes, this is a quote from The Godfather, but it also applies to when you see shit-stirring on Twitter from someone you already blocked on Facebook for that very reason.
So this particular someone posted on Twitter that all she sees on Facebook these days is parents complaining about their kids.
Well, I’m calling bullshit on that one. Also: We’re past the point of avoiding “bad words,” am I right? That ship has sailed! We are in a pandemic, people! We are all in the same proverbial boat in some senses — yes, it’s true that our marital/economic/health situations may vary greatly, but in the main collective sense, we are all in the same boat sailing on a veritable tsunami of shit. Happy 2020, indeed!
I feel very grateful I blocked this person on my social media mainstay of choice, because I think it’s a ton of garbage to say that parents are just non-stop complaining about their kids. Sure, I do see a lot of complaints — and not only ones that I have written, for the record. Parents all over the world, in every language, are marveling on social media about how their kids can fight about literally anything. Parents across the continents are wondering whether they should enforce a “change out of your pajamas after three days” rule. And I may have personally mentioned that perhaps a new version of “home school” should teach lessons like, “don’t put the empty orange juice container back in the fridge,” or “the dishwasher doesn’t actually load itself.”
But I don’t see these as complaints. Rather, they are coping mechanisms. Because, yes, people are really struggling these days. No matter what your situation, I would venture that none of us thought that we would be spending 2020 stuck inside, trying to both work and school our kids from home.
Look, in these unprecedented times, so many people are suffering, in multiple and myriad ways. People are dealing with job loss, job uncertainty, and shaky businesses whose future in the time of pandemic is unforeseeable. People are trying to figure out how to work from home while simultaneously taking care of their children, and dealing with any number of other permutations of work-related stress. Many of us know sick people, or have sick people in our family, or are recovering from being ill, or know or are related to essential workers who are putting themselves at risk for the rest of us. Many people have health conditions that are unrelated to COVID-19, but those are harder to handle or treat in these times.
And many people, even without those factors at play, are struggling with the new mental landscapes of comparative isolation and anxiety. Whether your marriage or partnership is having issues, or your family is the picture-perfect von Trapps, being on lockdown and unable to have an outlet or to really go anywhere else is inherently stressful. If you weren’t an anxious person before, welcome! You’re one of us now.
So no, actually, I don’t see everyone in my various feeds complaining about their kids. (And my phone has so thoughtfully informed me that my screen time is way, WAY up — thanks for that, iPhone!). What I see is absolutely everyone trying hard, in a situation that is super, super trying and unprecedented (which, apparently, is a newsflash to some among us: my kids recently asked me, “Well, what did you do when this happened when you were a kid?”).
Yes, there are ample frustrations in this new, strange life, and that’s true for everyone. It’s true whether you’re a single parent living in a one-bedroom apartment with a 4-year-old and a Little Tikes trampoline, or you’re a mother of six kids trying to get through a single morning of Zoom and Google Meet school without screaming (just, you know, hypothetically speaking). Yes, we all love our kids — but hell yes, they can be a LOT, no matter how many of them you have.
Kids’ emotions are big and almost always the very definition of “extra.” And now, you’re living with these little people 24/7, with no relief or respite from get-togethers with friends, extracurricular activities, or sports — to say nothing of the fresh air of date night or moms’ night out. What counts as “me time” these days is having 42 seconds to pee alone. I mean, I’m writing this piece on the floor of my closet right now. I’m typing as quietly as I can so that those little imps — sorry, I mean those delightful small people I created with love — won’t find me. It’s kind of amazing how these kids can somehow sense me attempting to take any time to myself. It’s like how dogs can smell fear.
Here’s the thing: There are frustrations in this life, like when my daughters realized that no matter how many times they ask me when they’re going back to school, the answer remains, “I don’t know.” And no matter how little and shitty our complaints are, and no matter how nothingish they are in the grand scheme of things, WE ARE ALLOWED TO JOKE ABOUT THEM! I mean, hello: We’re Jews! When we’re faced with ridiculous, horrible situations, we laugh. That’s kind of, like, our entire schtick.
I mean, it’s hilarious that back in January, I was worried about how much screen time I was letting my kids have, and now I am shopping around for devices that will physically suction-cup my kids’ eyeballs to the computer screen for online school. Or that, just a few months ago, we were worried whether it’s healthy for our kids to consume Eggo waffles for every breakfast, and now we’re happy if they eat one tater tot, because those are made of potatoes, which are vegetables! Everyone’s a winner.
Humor is a coping mechanism, people, and we all gotta cope with the situation at hand, because there really isn’t much else we can do at this point with our own fears and frustrations (other than diving headfirst into activism, but that’s another blogpost). Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I’ve been laughing at — excuse me, I meant with — my kids for years (rim shot!). We all joke about all the frustrations — but we do it with love and gratitude. And even though we joke, yes, we are grateful to have roofs over our heads, we are grateful to have people to love, and yes, of course, we are grateful for our health. L’chaim!
Every day you make it through this shitshow is a success, full stop. If posting a flip comment about something annoying — like how your kid’s basketball prowess is in stark contrast to her apparent inability to hit the hamper with her socks — helps you get through the day, then you do you, sister. Also, blocking people on social media is self-care — be sure to do that, too, whenever you feel the need.
Image by Dimitri Otis/Getty Images