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Drew Barrymore Gets Real About the 'Messiness' of Parenting During COVID-19

Earlier this week, Drew Barrymore did an interview with the Today Show to discuss the “BeautyUnited” campaign and its mission to raise funds for frontline healthcare workers, as well as share how COVID-19 social distancing has been for her as a parent of two kids. In the interview the actress got real about having to be “the teacher, the parent, the disciplinarian, the caretaker,” saying it was “the messiest plate” she’s ever held.

When I saw her interview, I wanted to validate her feelings and say, “Yes! It is messy. It so very messy to be called suddenly to wear so many hats, especially in isolation.” As the mother of a medically fragile childI know quite a bit about messes and wearing lots of hats. On any given day, I am called to be a parent, caregiver, therapist (physical, speech, behavioral), nurse, insurance specialist (ugh!) and advocate. I also know what it feels like to be thrust unexpectedly into this position — it feels overwhelming.

One thing parents of kids with disabilities often hear when they juggle all these roles somewhat successfully is that they are “special” — that they were somehow born for this task. I know this is often meant as a compliment, but I generally don’t agree with this sentiment that parenting kids with disabilities is an innate gift. Instead, I believe one slowly grows into these roles, and that this growth can be painful, scary and often one step forward and one step back.

As someone who has worn many parenting hats for 15 years, I wanted to offer some good-intentioned advice to Drew Barrymore as she grows into her expanded roles during this quarantine period. Your growth will take these three things:

1. Preparation

You too have some homework to be done and you will learn quicker if you lean into a community that is facing similar challenges.

2. Prioritization

You cannot do everything, so you will have to be constantly prioritizing which needs should be addressed next.

3. Adjusting Expectations

You should also adjust your expectations, not only for yourself but also for your children. Be realistic and give yourself room to succeed. In other words, show yourself and your family grace — none of this will be perfect, but it can be a beautiful mess.   

I see you. Trying to bring people together to do good, trying to adjust to the many roles you are now called to fulfill. And I applaud your efforts! I appreciate your sentiments that we are all in this together. A friend of mine is always saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. If we can all learn how to better support each other through this crisis — to really see each other, then we will be rising the tide.

When all of this is over and people get back to their normal routines, I hope we continue to come together to support each other. And in that time, I hope you and others will remember that we parents of kids with disabilities will have to continue to wear our many hats, often in isolation – I hope you will see us too.

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Header image via Creative Commons