Do you hide in the bathroom, too?

This is part of a collection of short stories depicting and detailing true events and personal experiences in my life, with a few tweaks for the privacy of all involved.

If you said yes to that question, either out loud or silently to yourself, you are not alone. Somedays, it may be in the bathroom and other days it’s out in the shed or even in the car. We all have times where we need to disappear, to the safety of silence, among the loudness and never ending demands of parenting. And there is nothing wrong with having a moment to yourself! (As long as you haven’t left a baby unattended or the stovetop on…)

I am struggling with my 6 month old and 6 year old daughters. (Image: Becca Smith)

These days, thanks to COVID-19, those moments of much needed peace are hard to find as many people are struggling through the new level of life closeness that is lockdown. To put it simply: you may not be coping with the prospect of just that- you are not coping. You are struggling with the everyday routine roles you take on as a parent, like spending time with your children. Never have we as parents been forced to spend days on end with our children, without school or that personal space we would usually have. Now that we have been given no other option, parenting doesn’t seem as simple and I’ll just go ahead and say it, enjoyable, as it once was. That’s not an easy pill for us mums, who have always had all the answers, to swallow.

As a parent, you have one main objective that shadows everything you do and that is making sure your child is okay. That’s parenting in a nutshell. Sure, there are a million little bits and pieces that make up that nutshell but at the end of the day, your only concern is them. Are they safe? Are they happy? Is their head in the right place? And if at anytime the answer to one of those questions is no – you find the solution. You always find the solution and if not the solution, you find the pathway to the solution… but what if that’s not possible?

As I watch my 6 year old daughter struggle with the isolation, repetitiveness and uncertainty of lockdowns, it’s hard to not feel like a failure as a mother. I am not a failure at all, but it is hard to see that when you are in a situation you a) cannot control, b) cannot change and c) are struggling to cope with yourself.

My 6 year old, who has always been hyperactive and needs stimulation, is going crazy at home. (Image: Becca Smith)

The massive changes in the role a parent plays have been sudden and damaging to many families. The once uplifting role a mother would play has become a much harder task to take on as the negativity of the world takes a toll on everyone’s mood and children are more dependent on their parents for social interaction. This extra weight may be causing you to feel frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious and tired putting an unnecessary but unavoidable strain on your relationships within your family, including with your children. This is common among many parents as we all try to comprehend the changes in our daily lives and limit on our daily activities.

Parents who work from home or families who have extended family members living with them may be feeling cramped and smothered by the lack of space and privacy available in their homes. And with many areas in Victoria and New South Wales under a 5km rule and only 2 hours of exercise allowed, finding time to get out and have a breather is a little harder than it once was.

I’m not going to try and sugar coat a piece of shit because in all honesty, I am struggling with my mental health as much as the next person. I am constantly worrying about my daughters mental health and her early development and what kind of permanent damage is being done by isolating her for so long. I am sitting here, always questioning why our government is only worried about the handful of deaths from COVID-19 but ignoring the hundreds of deaths caused by suicide during lockdowns.

(Image: Becca Smith)

All I have for the parents out there that resonate with what I’m saying is you are not alone. We are all amazing parents. What we are going through wasn’t in the job description, it’s not something you were ever going to be prepared for because we never pictured a scenario like this. Stop beating yourself up, as hard as it is. You are struggling to adapt as much as your kids are, no parents were expected to get their children across the line through an 18+ month cycle of isolation and face masks. But you are here and you doing the best you can. That’s all we can do until this nightmare is over.

So go and have a cry in the toilet, a naughty smoke in the shed or a wine in the closet because this shit is really hard. And if it happens that you see or know of a mama having a tough time during lockdown, share this with her to let her know she isn’t supposed to know what to do – none of us do. 🤎

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