Raw emotions. We will never be the same after raising children. Innocence and independence will not be ours again. Mothering has now taken us to new heights, increasing our daily responsibility to be present — homeschooling, playing, listening and talking, with even less “me” time. However you plan to spend Mother’s Day, this one certainly will be uniquely different from all the rest.

As much as we are affected by sheltering in place, worrying about the COVID-19 infection to ourselves, families and friends, our children are suffering with increased anxiety. Social isolation is impacting children in different ways — while some younger children enjoy being home with their parents and family, others are struggling, exhibiting unusual behavior. There’s always an emotional root; any imbalance will manifest with more difficult behavior. If your child exhibits anger, irritability, sadness, or fear beyond her typical “baseline,” it’s very likely due to changes imposed by this pandemic. Home should be children’s safe place, providing a sense of security, where they trust their parents or caregivers will keep them safe and grounded. Children realize life is different now and react in various ways, depending on age and temperament.

At the best of times, children can reduce us to “mush,” and just as easily to rage, in a split second, by screaming, “I hate you” or “Yeah right, you think you know everything.” Yet now, when we’re exhausted by the full-time responsibilities with few, if any, breaks, this may take on new meaning. Work and financial stress exacerbate this time, coupled with concern for family and friends isolating elsewhere, possibly at higher risk. The absence of normalcy, given the surreal nature of our current environment, can easily trigger past trauma. With this, parents might feel more stretched and that their children are more burdensome, less enjoyable.

How each of us responds to trauma ranges from being passive to being angry and crabby. Although this time is traumatic for children, there isn’t one common response to this experience. Sleep is more disturbed, and with sleep deprivation comes more erratic behavior. We may begin fantasizing about having an “empty nest” or experience new depths of anger and frustration. Perhaps all we want to do when we finally have some free time is sleep. This upcoming “Mother’s Day” is evocative. It’s not about how we’ve spent Mother’s Days in the past, whether honoring our own mother or being honored by our children. Rather, what resonates are the simple childhood remembrances of how life once was. More than ever, we can wistfully recall more of the magic, the easiness of those bygone days.

As British newspaper The Guardian pointed out: “A generation of children and teenagers in the U.S. who were born under the specter of international terrorism, raised during an economic recession and educated under the threat of near-constant school shootings is facing yet another trauma: a pandemic that’s already racked up a devastating body count and completely upended their lives.”

When this crisis passes, how will our children remember our mothering? What do we want them to value most about how we helped them navigate through this time? We want them to know we were always there when they needed us, that we patiently listened without judgment or criticism, without needing to “fix” their emotions. Hopefully they feel we supported, accepted, and loved them unconditionally. How we mother is something we independently determine. If this particular Mother’s Day counts for anything, let it be reflecting on the legacy we want for our children. Each day is precious in this parenting journey, and our children are paying close attention to the messages we’re giving them. While moms are currently “captive,” sequestered in this most important role, it’s crucial to take care of our own emotional health. Remember safety briefings flight attendants provide: “Parents, put on your own oxygen mask before placing one on your child.”

This unprecedented time can be one of creativity and inspiration, with each family marking their own path of peace through the chaos. Be forgiving of yourself and your children. For this Mother’s Day, remember you are strong, courageous, resilient, and lovable. Stay well, and be safe.

As my hero Fred Rogers once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Our gratitude to all of them!