The Mighty Logo

How It Feels Being Quarantined at Home With My 3 Adult Kids During the Pandemic

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

With everything happening in the world right now I really don’t have any right to be mad, but that’s what I think is making me so mad these days. Many other people feel this way, I think. We’re trying to be hopeful, grateful and productive, banding together as communities to fight the deadly COVID-19. We’re striving to focus on the positives, but sometimes we just want to be mad.

After two dozen years as a full-time mother to three adult children, I had finally become a happy-even-though-I-miss them empty nester with my wonderful husband of 30 years. Even our 24-year-old son with severe cerebral palsy had moved out into his own apartment and was building a fulfilling life for himself. I had accomplished much to be proud of as a parent…then along came coronavirus.

All three “kids” moved back home many weeks ago and are finding their new normal. Our nest is now crowded, dirty and filled with people who want independence (and personal space!) and can’t have it. When not working or studying virtually, they attempt to be helpful, but they don’t want to follow my chore charts or middle-age timetable. I don’t want them to start their laundry at midnight, but I don’t want to do their laundry anymore. I can’t make our daughter clean her room, and I can’t put her in time out. Despite the deluge of social media posts with tips for maximizing this new-found “together time,” I often find myself getting angry.

People tell me how lucky we are to have our children at home; it’s a silver lining, a precious gift we should savor. We’ll never get the time back…I couldn’t agree more. This pandemic has given me the opportunity to reconnect with our adult children in almost magical ways. They’re getting to know “grown up” me as more than just “mom,” and we’re all appreciating extended opportunities to interact, share and encourage one another. We’re enjoying true moments of delight together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Despite all the nightly Netflix, board game bonanzas, and homemade haircuts, however, these are still very challenging times. Times in which a mother, no matter how old her kids are, is allowed to get exasperated, stressed, tearful and frustrated. Times in which we are concerned about life and death. Times when we are worried for our world and those we love. Times when we should get mad, and then get on with it.

As Mother’s Day approaches, my gift to myself is permission to truly feel this global pandemic. Instead of mastering a second language or sewing more face masks, I want to absorb and process the good, the bad and the ugly of having my carefully choreographed life yanked out from under me while I obsess about really scary stuff. I want to be angry about something insignificant, without feeling guilty that I’m blessed with good health. I want to laugh and cry, sustain and complain, work and be weary. And I want to demonstrate to our children and other mothers that it’s OK to just “be” right now, even if that means being mad.

When we’re on the other side of this thing, I hopefully will have learned more about the world, myself, our family and how experiencing a broad range of emotions each day is just as important as getting a healthy meal on the table for everyone. If I’m lucky, I’ll also have learned to accept our daughter’s messy room. Well, maybe a few more weeks for that one.

Photo credit: kieferpix/Getty Images

Originally published: May 4, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home