My daughter was doing OK. She loved the increased family time. She loved not being rushed in the morning and instead being able to do her own thing. She loved playing with her sister more (except when she didn’t). And they both loved the increased screen time.
The kids were basically parenting themselves since my husband and I were both working from home. I would look at Facebook and see people’s kids’ school assignments and art projects, both of which were practically non-existent at my house. I would see their family hikes, which couldn’t happen during the week for us. I would feel less-than. I would feel guilt. I would feel shame. I would try to tell myself my kids were secure, healthy, and happy, and the rest just didn’t matter.
Then, week 9 or 10 of coronavirus hit. And things got ugly(er). The physical isolation was really starting to affect my daughter (and me), although she couldn’t verbalize it. She was yelling and raging so much more. She cried so easily and for so much longer. It was so difficult to watch, and I felt her pain. I knew it wasn’t about me, but it was so hard to not take it personally or feel like I was failing. Especially when everyone, it seemed, whether in Facebook groups or people I knew in real life, was posting picture-perfect lives.
Then, I took a risk. I posted on my local moms’ group and asked if anyone else’s kid had gone from Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll. And, guess what? There was a resounding yes. This yes came from people I knew in real life, too, whose Facebook lives made me think otherwise. Even though this didn’t lessen the pain and sadness my daughter feels, it offered me a giant sigh of relief. It made me feel like less of a failure.
The truth is, this is hard. We are all struggling. We are also all going to get through this. And, Facebook impression management is nothing new. Everything is amplified right now — fear, uncertainty, worry, guilt, and falling victim to Facebook lies. Please, dear ones, remember, Facebook lives are less real than they appear, and it’s OK for you and your family to not be OK right now. We are all doing our best, even if our best is not our typical best. And that’s OK.