“We Are Family”
Like most of us, I’ve navigated this locura of a pandemic by following a routine. My days consist of ordinary joys, like my morning Bustelo and newfound joys, like playing with red lipstick in the afternoon, just to amuse myself. I’ve learned to find the joy in tedious rituals, too, like loading dozens of dirty dishes into the dishwasher every night. (The trick? Blasting salsa while cleaning.) And obviously, luckily, I also fit in a full workday. I’ve got my Zoom lighting figured out and I’m pretty good at muting myself when I thank my husband for handing me my morning smoothie.
In the midst of all this, though, I’m constantly strategizing on “parenting during a pandemic.” Our little family—including my husband, our teenaged twins and the kitty—has been sheltered at home since mid-March, when Brandon and Grace left college for spring break and never returned. This new normal, which is the direct opposite of normal, has forced me to crank my parenting up to a thousand percent. A ticker tape of concerns runs through my brain daily: How are they today? How are they right this minute? How can I help them come out of this scary situation relatively unscathed? How do I respond to their unspoken pleas for us to make this better? How can I remind them of the little blessings that brighten our days?
I don’t have the answers but my posse always helps me find them.
My posse, this committee that has helped me navigate 20 years of parenting, has never worked harder. The posse leader, my husband, Euclide, shares my worries but approaches life like a bull. His no-nonsense, this-too-shall-pass mentality gives me comfort and clarity. My sister, a trusted board member, ordinarily can’t be disturbed after 10pm, but for the twins she’s open 24/7. And my mother, whether she realizes it or not, is another guiding light. I’ve gotten Mami on the line oh-so-many times since lockdown began. Hearing my tone, Mami sets aside her little jokes and transforms into Mama Buddha. And after sharing her wisdom, perspective and tea recommendations (linden tea, calms nerves), she’ll say something ridiculous that makes me laugh out loud. That alone strengthens me.
I also have Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, Marc Anthony lyrics. Yes, the power of “Vivir Mi Vida” is real. I take a breath and visit each kid, prepared to whip up wisdom on the fly. I approach them carefully yet nonchalantly.
“How’d you sleep? Do you have school today?” I ask.
I scan their faces for the real answers. I also judge their body language. My favorite days are when Grace is sitting by her window, laughing hysterically at her phone screen. That’s my clue that her day is feeling manageable. She takes off her headphones in invitation. I stroke her hair and hold her close. Some days that’s all we need. Other days, though, when concerns seem insurmountable— will their social lives resume, will they be real college students again and on and on—on those days, the words take a little longer. Still, my posse comes through.
As for Brandon, well, he’s a boy. Harder to read, yes, but he eventually drops clues. Sometimes it’s during dinnertime. Or, at 11pm, when he’s preparing a bowl of Lucky Charms. And when I see him working on his music, his head bopping to the beat, I know that he’s found the few silver linings of this situation.
“You good, honey?” I ask, my arm linked through his. I know he likes it when I ruffle his curls, so I do that. He nods his head and smiles at me with his eyes.
Thank you, posse.
Another day down. So many more to go.
Patricia Reynoso is a writer and beauty industry professional who often writes about Latin beauty culture. Her work has appeared in many publications including Glamour, WWD, and Elle. Born and raised in Manhattan to Dominican parents, Reynoso lives in New Jersey with her husband and twins.