One of my greatest joys, accomplishments, frustrations, challenges, teachers, is being a mother. In Seattle, we are over a month into this world crisis of Coronavirus and living in one of the epicenters of the disaster. This social isolation and complete overhaul of a daily life schedule and future plans is hard on me, but I worry more about how all of this will affect my daughter.
She seems fine. She says that if she doesn't talk about it, doesn't think about it, she'll be okay. We've been doing an after dinner ten-minute writing practice and she says she doesn't want to write about anything related to Corona because it will make her too upset. Last night at ten-thirty Lucia said good night and went to her room. Our agreement is that she puts her phone on the docking station in the kitchen at 10:30pm Monday-Friday and 11:30pm on weekends. This is already an hour later than normal because I'm trying to be lenient and balance out in-home restrictions with the oppressive the shelter-in-place conditions we are living in.
At 11:00pm I am generally fast asleep but last night I was restless. I couldn't sleep. I finished my book and couldn't get my mojo up to start another. So I got up and went down to the kitchen and saw Lucia's phone wasn't there. I went to her room where her light was on and she was sitting on her bed with a notebook. "Lucia, why isn't your phone in the kitchen?" I asked. "I'm sorry Mom. I wanted to call someone" she said unplugging her phone from the wall and handing it to me. I brought it upstairs and put it my bathroom. Now I was really jacked up on emotional adrenaline. I went on my computer for a bit and then I went back to Lucia's room.
"Lucia," I said, sitting on her bed, "What is going on? What do you need?"
"I don't know," she answered, tiny tears trying to free themselves from her hazel eyes.
My heart broke a little bit. It was as if all of my anxiety, fear, and struggle to find a foothold in the unknown, was wrapped up into that tiny "I don't know." What is my job right now? I asked myself. How do I serve her? How do I create a landing pad for this grief and confusion and anger and pain?
I climbed under the covers and put my head on a pillow with my face and body towards her's. She told me how she's scared to really get sad because she feels like she'll fall down a hole and not be able to climb back out. She told me how she's okay and she gets support from her friends. She asked me questions about when I am really myself. She wondered aloud if she's like me at times, not really herself. She told me it wasn't my job to fix this. And that's when I lost it. I can't fix this. I can't fix this. I can't fix this. I can't make her pain go away. I can't make Donald Trump not be a raging lunatic and greedy motherfucker. I can't rub Lucia's back to make everything okay like when she was a toddler.
I have to throw everything I know out the window and settle into this moment, this reality, this life right now. It looks different than it ever has and I don't know where we'll go in the weeks and months ahead. I don't know how this will end. But I want to do something. What do I do? I can feel the tightness gripping in my chest as I try to forge a plan, create a list for how I'll make this better. But the more I do this the tighter my chest gets. I close my eyes. I feel the tears. My chest softens a little bit and I know that all I can do for my child right now is to open my heart, step into my own vulnerability, and share her pain.