This is not an advice column. I promise you, if I had any advice for anyone it would be don’t take my advice. I had cereal for dinner last night. I am in no position to offer you practical tips on parenting during the pandemic, nor do I have recipes for one-pot dinners you can whip up on a work night. What this is, and what I hope it becomes for you, is a place to shout into the void on all things family. Parenting can be a lonely place. Here you are not alone.
This can be a place where we celebrate your kid’s school re-opening causing you to scream, “YAY!” Or it can be a place where you lament the closing of said school again with a barely audible cry of, “HELP!” Both are completely welcome responses here. The point is, this is a sounding board. A place where it’s safe to rant about those little bugs of love that you hardly ever want to leave alone in a basement. This is a safe space, parents. Welcome to it.
I am the mother of a 14 year old stepson, a 2 year old daughter, and a 7 month old daughter. Evan, Lorelei, and Calliope in that order. Evan is with us on the weekends, but during the week it is just myself and the two girls for five long days every week. I am a former New Yorker and Broadway performer who ran away to the coast of Maine to marry a sailor and raise babies by the water. I moved up here in June 2018. I miss NYC all the time, but I know that it isn’t going anyplace.
Raising babies in the city has its own struggles very different from raising children in the country. We suffer from a lack of resources up here. There are very few people in Maine and even fewer Mommy and Me classes. When my daughter Lorelei came in February of 2019, I was determined to be an active parent and to socialize her as much as possible for both her sanity’s sake as well as mine. I didn’t know any moms in coastal Maine, and I didn’t want her starting at a disadvantage. So we sought out and finally found a new moms group to attend once a week. Then we found a music class, then a nature class, and pretty soon we were occupied with baby dates most mornings. It wasn’t Park Slope, but I was making do.
Of course, when the pandemic came, all of that went away. Now we have Zoom music class, a rather sad if game attempt to entertain toddlers by watching a senior woman bang pots and pans on her kitchen webcam. We have Zoom moms group, which mostly consists of moms trying to corral their babies to stay in front of the computer for an hour while they lament the loss of what once was. Incidentally I got a recent email saying that Zoom moms group was kaput, so chalk another victory lap off for COVID.
Look, there is no acing this parenting thing. There are only various levels of failure. The baby is going to hit its head, and you can only pray it’s not hard enough to turn her into the girl who carries the dead bird in her lunch box. You’re going to mess this up because parenting is just bouncing from imperfect moment to permanent damage and back again before snack time. No one is nailing it.
So in this space, we are going to celebrate those failures as opportunities to grow, or at least as chances to laugh heartily at ourselves before we burst into tears. Life is short. Let’s hold each other up when necessary. Did the kids survive the day? Congratulations mom/dad. You are parenting. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Give yourself a pat on the back mom/dad. You deserve it. Welcome to Frankly Frances. Thank you for taking the journey with me.