Life was starting (and sort of looks like it still is trying) to get back to normal after months of world-wide quarantine and isolation. As we look out from the middle of the tunnel, many of us are starting to see the secondary and tertiary effects that stem from the worldwide pandemic. The silent struggles of COVID are carrying big impact indeed.
I am not a new mom, or even a new (again) mom. My youngest is 4-years-old, going on 5, so the baby stages are far behind me. But what I do remember is the struggle I had as a new (again) mom, with two babies that were only 14 months apart and how difficult the first year of my third daughter's life was for me.
Related: American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Children Return To School
My two youngest daughters were born just 14 months apart, so I effectively had two babies in my home but two babies that had two very different needs. We also lived over an hour away from any family and in a small neighborhood where we were, by far, the youngest family with the youngest children. We lived about 30 minutes from the closest store, my oldest daughter's school was an hour round trip drive twice a day, and my husband's position in the United States Marine Corps had him at work all the time- often being gone for a week every couple of weeks or leaving for work before the sun and coming back late at night.
I was effectively isolated from any help, friendship, or any sort of "village." And I needed one badly.
Now here we are, almost 5 years later, and my circumstances have changed. We live in a bustling neighborhood filled with families who will do anything to help you if you are in need. There are plenty of children for my kids to play with and every single one of my neighbors is in the same stage of life as our family.
My best friend in the neighborhood recently had her fourth baby. Much like me, her last two are only 13 months apart but she also had a c-section and an additional major surgery to do pregnancy complications when her son was born 5 weeks early. From my personal experiences, I knew I wanted to do anything and everything to help her. I would hold her baby, take her older kids for playdates, do the school drop-offs with her two daughters, make her meals, do her grocery pick-ups--whatever she needed--that'd was my plan.
But only two weeks after she brought her baby home, we were quarantined. Schools were closed and now this new (again) mom was isolated and alone with very little help, and there was nothing I could do. I knew what she needed, and knew I could offer it, but in these unprecedented times? Couldn't at the same time.
She didn't have to tell me her struggles. I knew. I knew what it was like to have everyone crying at dinner time and literally not having enough hands to help everyone. I knew what it was like to wake up with several babies throughout the night. I remembered what it was like to have a very active toddler basically trying to do everything to dump out every toy in the house or kill themselves while trying to nurse a hungry baby on the couch.
But now she had to try and homeschool her older two without any help from the outside. She couldn't even let her kids outside to play or go to the playground or just be with other kids their age. She was inside her home, constantly, for months and no one was around to help her even though her village surrounded her. Even still, we're all cautious about much of life's previously givens.
This is but one of the silent struggles of COVID that many people don't even realize are happening. We've all just kind of dealt with what was handed to us, juggling this new life the best we could and trying to make it "normal" and not-s0-scary for our kids--so we don't really look too hard at the bigger picture just yet.
Although in this situation, I was aptly aware of her pain and the things she was experiencing during those early months of the pandemic, there are plenty of people who don't know what they don't know. How could they?
Related: COVID-19 Postpartum Depression: New Moms At Greater Risk
There are so many people who lost loved ones due to COVID-19, and no one can take away that pain and loss. Many people have lost their jobs and their businesses due to the shutdown. We're still in the middle of who-knows-what and for how long as we debate returning to schools or even going to a church service inside.
But, there are people in many other, different circumstances that are struggling and most of those struggles are silent. We know life is different, but if you can, make it as normal as is safely possible for those fellow moms who need their villages.