My fourteen-year-old daughter Sophie has broadway dreams. I’m biased, but of course I think she’s very talented (see for yourself). When she was nine I took her to see Wicked at our local performing arts center and that was it. She is, as I write this, at theater camp. She’s all in and I love watching her do what she loves. I was a theater kid myself in high school, so it’s something fun we can share, and thanks to her interests I’ve been listening to different broadway show soundtracks, even when I’ve not had the opportunity to see the show.
About a week ago, I hit play on the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack, as Sophie is working on the song “Requiem” in voice lessons and I wanted to hear the rest of the songs. When I heard the first track, “Anybody have a map?” my heart kinda stopped for a hot second. Sung by two struggling moms trying to parent two differently troubled sons, its lyrics pierced me.
Does anybody have a map? Anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this? I don’t know if you can tell but this is me just pretending to know…So where’s the map? I need a clue ’cause the scary truth is I’m flying blind and I’m making this up as I go.
I really needed this song in this past fifteen or so months. WHERE WAS THIS SONG? Even though I’ve just found it, it’s one hundred percent my pandemic parenting theme song. I’ve said it a hundred times since March 2020…aside from dealing with a child with significant developmental delays, pandemic parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I had no idea what I was doing. The whole time, I was stumbling along, relying on instinct and intuition and prayer, analyzing and assessing risks and hoping I was making the right decisions.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic (well, at our start, March 2020) my kids were sixteen, thirteen and nine. Now they are seventeen, fourteen and ten. My youngest didn’t suffer too much disappointment due to me being The Mom That Always Said No, but my other two did. I mean they’re teenagers! It killed me to see their carefree lives disappear. I did everything I could to let them participate in safe activities, but…they kept getting invited to activities that I didn’t think were safe enough. Which made me feel fairly gaslit. No shade to those doing the inviting, we all have to do the risk assessment for our own families. But generally, I’d have to say no, face my kids’ disappointment, and hope I was making the right choice.
From the outset of this public health emergency, we agreed as a family to take it seriously and follow public health directives as long as they didn’t conflict with any directives God had already set out in the Bible. Obviously, here in Ohio, no health orders were in conflict with scripture. For both my older two kids and me, seeing those orders openly flouted by those who claim Christ was confusing and disorienting. My teens are both (up to this point, whew) pretty staunch rule followers. It’s not that they don’t question rules, but they know that like I’ve said, if God doesn’t object, they should obey. For my daughter in particular, anger was a struggle when it came to the rule breakers. I don’t mind righteous anger, it has a place, and I told her that. But helping her process all that in a healthy way was extraordinarily hard, especially when two people close to our family died from COVID.
I sure wish I’d had a map. I felt awfully lost at times.
Now both of my big kids are vaxxed to the max and back to living their best lives. It is a relief I can’t describe, to see them back to being normal teens. What our kids have lost is truly significant, I’m not downplaying it. I shed many tears over the pandemic parenting decisions I had to make and over seeing them disappointed. Time will tell how well Bobby and I did, I guess. But to be honest, protecting my husband was always the goal, because the loss my kids would have if they didn’t have their father is one million times worse than missing out on a year of parties and get togethers. And on that front, as we stand together today, a healthy family of five, I have no regrets.
I followed my parental instincts, and prayed a lot. God gave me those instincts, he gave me access to Him through prayer, He gave me the Holy Spirit. I know what’s right for us isn’t right for everyone and yet, it confuses me that so many other Christian parents came to completely opposite parenting pandemic parenting conclusions. My husband’s asthma and lack of paid sick time were a primary motivator, sure, but it is difficult to imagine myself throwing caution to the wind in the past year, regardless.
I am thankful to have made it to a less difficult part of this pandemic. My children have given me grace when I have asked for it. I will bear the trauma of this pandemic for a long time, I’m sure. Yet my family has our health, so we have everything.
That map would have been clutch though.