Rage and emotion come to me in waves. Each one gets bigger and more powerful until they take me completely over. I’ve never felt like this before—I am not me. This situation is unfamiliar territory, and I’m drowning in it.
These are my waves of rage and emotion.
I’m a mother of three healthy children and a public school teacher. My husband and I kept our jobs through the pandemic, and we live in a cul-de-sac in a suburb. All of these facts help guilt enter when I rage about our current situation, but guilt doesn’t make it go away. This chaos isn’t the world we pictured for our kids. All moms, everywhere, feel like we’re drowning in rage and emotion.
I remember when it started. I wrapped up a class at the end of the day when the announcement came that we would not be returning to school before spring break. I watched the seniors take in the reality that this was the last moment they’d be in this room, their school, and around their peers. They appeared to accept it before I did. Denial kept me safe until it couldn’t. Enter the waves of rage and emotion.
My family of five worked to stay together. But five separate workstations in a house threatened our very patience with each other. We had no events on the calendar. We had nothing to do. We had nowhere to go. I had time to pause and reflect on how I felt. Moms don’t usually get to do this. It felt like more of a curse than a blessing because I wasn’t feeling great. Enter another wave of rage and emotion.
I taught my students on the computer. I strived to ask them how their days went. Were they getting enough of everything we try to provide as teachers: emotional support, educational support, etc.? Were they eating? Were they safe all day? What can’t they express to me or each other over the computer that they need to talk to someone? Each sweet yet sad face over Zoom worried me—more waves of rage and emotion.
Someone’s baby, brother, uncle, father murdered on the screen—protests, hate speech, demands for change. Our country seemed to be on fire, literally and figuratively. My kids came to me with questions, and I tried my best to explain what happens to people when they forget other people are human. I told my school-agers about the luxury they have to see people as classmates, teammates, and friends. When our kids are young, they have the gift of humanity—that is the luxury of children. In school, they get to hear others’ experiences because they are forced to be around other people all day, face-to-face. If only adults could listen to each other. Hate is much harder face-to-face.
All-consuming waves of rage and emotion
Now that we discuss our return to school, we have a whole new fear coming our way. I hear “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel playing on re-loop in my head, except I feel like our country is underwater and on fire at the same time. Parenting this generation of kids is already tricky for a Gen Xer like me. I thought my biggest obstacle was that darned cell phone. Now, navigating kids through the rough waters of 2020 may just about do me in. Trying to find a safe center in all of this feels impossible, with everything in motion with body-sized waves.
But then I remember something amid these waves of rage and emotion.
I’m a mother. A human. A woman.
Moms everywhere have come too far to let the waters of 2020 overtake us.
So I stop, I tread water, and I breathe. I jump on life’s raft, and I inhale the good going on around us: my city coming together to try to learn how to be better; my children talking at family dinners about how to keep our community and our schools safe this fall; my country, working to grow from past mistakes and heal wounds of current ones.