Joy in the Time of Corona

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Joy in the Time of Corona

April 13, 2021

By Rahwa Zeresenai

I am one of those people who has always known I was going to be a mother.  Most of the details; the number of kids, the age I would have them, even the names I imagined for them, have all changed through my 35 years. Regardless, I knew I would have them.  I dreamed of the moment I would discover I was pregnant, how I would tell my husband, family and friends.  But mostly, I dreamed of maternity leave; that glorious year that I would get to spend with my baby, taking classes, spending time with friends and family, mall walking, swimming, and most importantly, NOT WORKING.  I would dream about it, talk to my mom friends about it, maternity leave was the dream. After 34 years, I finally began my journey to motherhood, and in September my precious little guy was born.  He is beautiful, the love of my life and the cutest, but we will get to that part later.  I am writing this because to put it simply, I was robbed.  No, no one broke into my home, stole my car or wallet. I didn’t lose anything of monetary value, file a police report or an insurance claim.  The thief wasn’t even human to tell the truth.  That’s right, I’m talking about the biggest villain of 2020 and 2021 so far, Coronavirus (Covid-19).  

It stole my maternity leave from right out under me! All those visions of classes and making  mom friends, Poof! The swimming lessons, Gone! Friends and family, a Memory! Those mall-walks, try Couch Potato-ing!  I (along with all of you) have found myself in, what is essentially, my own comfortable prison.  Seeing very few people, going nowhere, streaming insane amounts of tv and eating. The weight I managed to keep off in pregnancy, it’s back. Those exercises the physiotherapist told me to do at home instead of the gym, HA! And honestly, if one more person tells me how lucky I am to be on maternity leave through this pandemic, I.WILL.SCREAM. I do acknowledge that I have been fortunate during these very difficult times, and I am thankful for all that I have been blessed with.  However, we all have had our difficulties and need to let it out; everyone’s feelings are valid. I did not get newborn pictures, I have not been able to have my son baptized, most people have not even met my little guy yet, family included.  So yes, I know I am lucky, but I want all you other “lucky” moms to know, it is okay to say, this stinks.  In fact, I believe it is very important to acknowledge the depths of this isolation, so that we can then move on to the picking up the pieces and finding the joy in this difficult time.

Finding joy in the time of Coronavirus sounds like an experience akin to a root canal.  Despite this, for the past month, I have spent some time reevaluating and attempting to do just that.  Finding joy doesn’t necessarily mean big, dramatic, amazing events.  I mean if you happened to win the lottery during this year, that’s definitely joyful; but I am talking about a more subtle joy that everyone can relate to. 

So what does that joy look like?  

For me it looks like my husband, getting to spend this year working from home and bonding with Elijah.  It looks like the home organization and projects that I am planning and completing with the money we are saving from not going out.  It was virtual (and the occasional in person) mommy and me classes.  It looks like me binging all 7 seasons of the Golden Girls in an obscenely short amount of time.  It’s my first sip of Tim Horton’s steeped tea in the morning.  Mostly, it’s the extra snuggles, smiles and laughter from my son. The joys look small, in fact they can be darn near impossible to see unless you look closely for them (sometimes with a magnifying glass).  I work in the Mental Health profession and I cannot count how many times I have talked to clients about this; having now been on the other side, if any of you are reading this, YOU WERE RIGHT! THIS IS HARD.  So I sat and asked myself the following questions to help me gain some perspective:  Will I care about missed ________ a year from now? 5 years from now?  Can Elijah do _____ in the future?  Will he miss any of these things I have been mourning? Will those important to me get to meet him in the next few months?  What would I tell my friend/family member/child/spouse if they were struggling to see positives around them? (then tell yourself that same thing)

These are just a few strategies I used to pick up the pieces of my maternity leave.  I have 6 months left, and with the weather improving, so is my optimism.  If you are not there yet, that is ok, feel your feelings.  Ask for help, talk to someone, or stay in your pajamas and eat ice cream; whatever works for you.  Hopefully, the little joys of your day become clear to you soon.

But if all else fails, I highly recommend the Golden Girls.

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