There are leaves blowing around inside my house right now. The other day, we went through the drive-through (something we’ve been doing a shit ton of lately) and my son wanted to bring his comforter with him for the car ride.
Now, normally this is something I would frown upon and tell him to leave his bedding on his bed where it will be free from grease and ketchup. But honestly, what else does this kid have to look forward to on any given afternoon right now? Not a whole hell of a lot.
I allowed it, and he did what I thought he was going to do: dragged it through the garage into the car and then back into the house, bringing some debris from outside along with it. You know, a few leaves, a couple sticks, some pine needles.
I literally don’t care. The scene on my floor reminds me of our drive on a sunny day and eating french fries in the parking lot.
The pandemic has changed my lifestyle. Maybe it’s because I’ve realized the importance of living in the moment. Maybe it’s because I’m in a house with my kids nonstop and I’m saving my energy for the battles that matter. I realize I have all the time in the world to do housekeeping or shave my legs, so there’s no rush.
But I think a bigger reason is I was so stressed in the beginning of this shitstorm that I used all my reserves, and the only way to get through this in one piece (for me) is to act more like a dude.
My laundry is not as up-to-date as it usually is. My house is stocked with frozen pizzas, burritos, cookie-coated drumsticks, all the things to make nachos, and every kind of ramen you can imagine.
I’ve always bought these things for my three kids on occasion, but reminded them to get some fruits, veggies, try and make a decent dinner every night, knowing it would all round out. But this is quarantine. We’re home all the time and aren’t sure when things will start getting back to normal, so if my son wants to reach for his leftover Dr. Pepper and heat up some chicken nuggets from our fast-food run last night, good for him. He deserves it. I simply cannot keep up with trying to do the right thing all the time. I’m even wondering what the hell the point is.
My daily uniform has been a sweatshirt and a pair of underpants because it can be. Right now, I’m wearing my son’s sweatshirt because it’s the only clean one in the house. I’ve walked outside in my underwear more times than I can count since the stay-at-home order took effect in our state.
And the other day, I saw something on the news about how we should be replacing our toothbrushes every three weeks and I literally laughed. Our toothbrushes are fine since me and my kids haven’t seen another human in seven weeks and there’s no way I can begin to keep up with it all.
Oh, and when I get emails from my kids’ teachers letting me know they have missing assignments, I simply forward it to them and tell them to take care of it without breaking a sweat.
I almost don’t recognize myself, and my kids sure as fuck don’t recognize me. Gone is the uptight mom who checked up on them all the time and always felt like she had to shed light on everything by making things look shiny and new.
I simply do not have the energy to do anything except drink too much soda, belch when I want, and make more ramen because this is literally all the excitement I have right now. I do not have the bandwidth to try and make anything color-coded for my kids’ school days. I’ll be damned if I’m going to clean out a pantry and keep up with the laundry. Our wardrobe choices just expanded greatly and I’m gonna ride that wave. I’m not changing the toilet paper roll if I don’t feel like it because those things are not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Whoever sits on the pot next and needs to wipe their ass can do it.
It’s liberating as fuck.
Being a parent through this pandemic certainly doesn’t come with an instruction manual. From one day to the next, all I’m trying to do is survive my mood and do what I want in that moment, and this is what it looks like for me.
I remind myself of my ex-husband very much, and you know what? I don’t hate it.
Somewhere along the line, society let moms know we were supposed to do it all: bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, then get it on with hubby at night to keep him happy even if we are stripped to the core. Oh, and don’t forget, taking care of the kids falls on our shoulders too.
I fell for that shit big-time, as do many women. We think someone needs to hold it together, and the heavy lifting is automatically assigned to us. Dudes don’t think that way — and, more importantly, they don’t feel the weight of judgment if they don’t come home from work and cook, clean, and get the kids ready for bed.
It’s a trend that keeps us perpetually overextended and stressed out. Bucking that trend has been fantastic even though it took a pandemic for me to see the light.
Yes, I want this to be over; yes, I care about my kids’ safety; yes, I want things to go back to normal. Maybe once this is all over, I’ll return to my anxious, uptight self — who knows? But for now, it feels good to not give a fuck about how many vegetables my kids have been eating and not double check everything they do.
I know for a fact that trying to be super productive, learn a new language, oversee all my kids’ school work, and tell my daughter that, no, her ducks cannot come in the house and walk around, will not be serving anybody in my family during this.
Right now, life looks like ice cream for dinner and microwave popcorn for a bedtime snack. It looks like an overflowing laundry basket and questionable wardrobe choices. This is me, being my best self in each moment and enjoying the freedom of not living up to anyone’s expectations but my own … and it’s working just fine.