A letter to my daughter: When you see me crying, it’s not you

And we will settle in. We are here. We are doing the thing, and we will keep on keeping on.

But this is hard, honey. Really hard. And I know that you’ve heard me crying on the bathroom floor when I escaped to “pee really quick.” There’s no way you haven’t noticed my muffled sniffling into my pillow in the wee hours of the night while I snuggle your brother and watch you sleep in your makeshift bed next to mine.

I’ve tried to shield you from so much of this. I’ve kept you inside, held you close to me, and refused to put you next to another human being in hopes that this virus doesn’t infiltrate you and our family. I’ve done my best to make these school “kindermeets” seem like a treat when really, I know you think they’re as pointless as I think they are. I’ve bought sidewalk chalk. I’ve made play dough. We’ve read books.

Yet, I still don’t feel like enough. At the end of the day, I’ve done “part” of a lot of things because 24 hours in a day seems like the short end of the stick during a global pandemic. We kind of “did school.” I sort of “cleaned the house.” I maybe talked to your dad for seven minutes before falling asleep, so I’m “almost” the wife I long to be. These aren’t equal parts, and by 8 nightfall, what I have done equates to nothing. I feel so exhausted, but I don’t have much to show for it.

And my greatest fear is that I am not enough to you. That I’ve damaged your education and that I’ve yelled more than I’ve smiled. That I’ve barked orders more than I’ve induced and supported imaginative play. That you think I care more about a spilled bucket of crayons than I do the picture you drew for me.

Please understand this: You are plenty. You are the sunshine that warms the day from wherever you are. This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me.

Today, you brought me a hand full of toilet paper because I just couldn’t hide from you in time. The tears came, and you heard the flood gates bust open. No excuse could save me this time; I couldn’t claim allergies or sniffles from cleaning a dusty area. You knew. And I knew you knew.

I don’t cry because of your strewn crayons or half-eaten sandwich. I cry because I feel like I’m treading water in the seas of failure. These are those “adult tears” I’ve told you about in the past: the kind that grown-ups cry not because they’re sad, but because there’s nothing left to to do or no other ways to fix what could be a big, big problem.

Mommies don’t cry because of skinned knees; we cry because we feel like we failed. And how we sometimes long, so much, to go back to a time when a warm blanket or a kiss or a lollipop or a new Barbie doll would solve all the problems.

My hope and prayer is that a global pandemic truly is once-in-a-century. I don’t want you to experience this again as a child, and I certainly don’t want you to experience this as a mother.

But if you do, I pray that you have a little girl who is as smart, comforting, and compassionate as you are. 

2 thoughts on “A letter to my daughter: When you see me crying, it’s not you

  1. Well said. I think a lot of people are struggling during this time. I couldn’t imagine being a parent through this, but so many are and are adapting. There’s no right way to go about it, its uncertain for everyone. But from reading this I can tell you care so much and you’re doing a great job. 👏👏👏

    Liked by 2 people

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