Pandemic perspectives: Parenting through a pandemic rollercoaster

Mia Hunt

Compared to some, my pandemic experience has been smooth. Our family has not faced death or illness. We are housed. We have jobs. And still, the last year has been gruelling, lonely, and often painful. It has also ushered a strengthened sense of community and some newfound appreciations.

From left to right: Phoebe, Mia, Tamago the cat, Nicholas, and Rowan on the front stoop of their Sandy Hill home.
Photo Hilary Duff

While we have dutifully kept our distance, our social connections in the neighbourhood have deepened. We know our neighbours better than before. We’re now more likely to hang out on the front stoop than the backyard. People seem friendlier and the streets of Sandy Hill are more active. And this West Coast girl felt heartily Canadian last winter, bundling up for nighttime distanced drinks with other local moms in -20 C conditions. I don’t think I could have made it through without the solidarity—and without the beer, to be honest.

After our kids had six months “off” last year (the longest March break in history) and after supporting their online learning over many weeks, I have a deepened appreciation for what our teachers do. The teachers and staff at Viscount Alexander have been remarkable at supporting them—academically and emotionally—and at pivoting on a dime between in-class and online learning. And they have done this while supporting their own families. They deserve respect, holidays, medals.

The pandemic has not made me a better parent but I sure feel for my kids. Whether they can articulate it or not, I know this year has been hard on them. Regressions, tears, isolation—and then there was Phoebe asking, “What’s a playdate, Mama?” Having recently turned four, she may have few pre-pandemic memories. How heartbreaking! Because there’s little else to look forward to, their excitement over calendar holidays has skyrocketed. Time has also been punctuated in small ways, with regular family dance parties, Friday movie nights with ice cream sandwiches, trips to museums when permitted, but wow, we are itching for change!

The pandemic has been a rollercoaster. The lows have been so low and our cups are empty. This has been hard on parents and frankly hardest on working moms. COVID has completely thrown work and life out of balance. But my God, we’re almost there! Finally seeing crocuses and hearing robins brings a sense of relief and optimism like no spring before. I know hugs are around the corner. There are lots of people I want to embrace for getting us through this.