My son wanted to go to a New Year’s Eve party with two of his friends and his girlfriend. While this decision in itself can be tricky for a mother of a 17-year-old — you have to cover a lot of ground rules — the fact that we were in the middle of a pandemic made it a bit easier to say no.
Of course, I was the bad guy since his friend’s parents were being lenient and wanted the kids “to have some fun” because it’s been a tough year.
Yes, I know it’s been a tough year, Karen, I’ve been living through it too.
Then when another friend turned 18 a few months later and his parents got him a hotel room so he and his friends could “have some fun” again, I found myself in the middle of it all after saying “no.”
The moms were calling me. My son was mad at me. His friends were texting me trying to convince me all would be fine and dandy.
When my son was having an itchy throat and runny nose before Christmas, I was the one who noticed it first and took him to get a test.
When my kids wanted to return to school after half the year was over, it was me they came to and pleaded their case.
And last week, I lost it after my daughter was invited to a slumber party and I said she couldn’t go. I felt horrible, of course — these kids have been through enough, but a slumber party could turn into a super spreader event so fast, especially when we are talking about teenagers. We all remember the days of sneaking out or sneaking people into the party. Not to mention my feeling is that if a parent is willing to let their child have a sleepover, they aren’t very cautious when it comes to COVID safety.
My daughter seemed to understand, but when the day of the party arrived, the father of the girl hosting the party called me (while I was trying to work, no less) to “talk about my decision about not letting my daughter attend.”
This man argued with me for ten minutes and told me that he took it all very seriously and they were going to be careful and wanted me to reconsider.
He didn’t call my ex-husband, of course; I was the one who had to be the one to put my family’s health first, again, and look like the bad guy.
It’s no secret this kind of thing has fallen on the mom even during non-COVID times. I’ve always been the one who notices if one of my kids needs to go to the doctor or dentist before my ex-husband did.
I made the appointments and got them there.
I was the one they came to for their social life.
I was the one who asked if they wanted to have a friend over since I work from home and apparently run an Uber business on the side.
When we run out of a certain food, we know kids hit up the mom.
So a year ago, when every single decision we made seemed like a life or death decision, it was up to us — the moms of the world — to accept or veto almost every move our family made. For that reason, it’s been the most exhausting year ever and it’s no wonder we feel like we can’t win either way.
The burden is heavy for one person to carry, and it’s not fair that we are the ones who have to step it up and make these kinds of decisions alone.
I’ve heard partners (and ex-partners) say it’s because we are “better at it.” But I call bullshit. Having to be the one who worries about it all — the one who constantly has to say no to our children, the one who has to decide how risky it is to take them to the doctor if they are experiencing something else besides COVID symptoms, having to go over in your head whether it’s really necessary to go to the store to get that one item you’re out of — can feel nearly incapacitating, and no one wants to do it.
When things like that get passed onto the mom, Mama Bear comes out and our kids think we are fun-sponges who want to make their lives miserable, and we go without sleep because our heads are spinning trying to decide the best way to handle this mess.
Because that’s what moms freaking do. But it takes a massive toll. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known this kind of exhaustion in my life.