As I type this, It’s 9:14 a.m. on Saturday morning, and I’ve already had a long cry. It’s been a long time coming, so once the flood gates open, those tears and feelings and anxiety and frustration poured out for a while.
I’ve hit that proverbial pandemic wall.
I’m a maxed out full-time working-from-home mom of four little kids. There’s virtual schooling, a nursing baby, a very spirited preschooler (who isn’t currently in preschool), a demanding job, and all of the household duties that come with having a large family (and pets).
Did I mention our community was gravely impacted by the Oregon wildfires? Beyond our evacuation, my husband’s chronic asthma did not fare well in those conditions, causing us immense worry. He’s still recovering.
And, did I mention I have an anxiety disorder? You can imagine how difficult that is to manage (even with medication) during all of this.
I’ve tried to stay as positive as I can during this time. I believe in public health, I believe in science, and I think it’s necessary to be as cautious as we can be during this pandemic. I support the mask mandates. I support staying home as much as possible. I support virtual schooling to keep our communities as safe as we can.
And it truly hasn’t been all bad.
Even with my job, and my littlest kids underfoot, I don’t totally hate facilitating virtual learning for my kids. I mean, some days I hate it and many days I’m like “holy shit, I forgot this, and this, and this…,” but there’s bright spots too.
We love our neighborhood school, and we love our teachers, and I will do what I can to support them because I see how hard they are working too. Many of them have kids at home as well, and yet they are finding the time to leave encouraging comments on my kids’ assignments after 10 p.m. They are checking in to make sure the kids have all the supplies they need to be successful, and if you need help acquiring them, they are dropping them off on your porch. I have nothing bad to say about our teachers because I stand in solidarity with them.
But, when you’re working full time, acting as a teacher’s aide to multiple kids at different learning levels, making sure everyone is fed, arranging another Instacart delivery or curbside pickup (because we are out of milk and bread and coffee again), running the dishwasher twice a day, smelling the laundry to make sure it didn’t sit too long before going into the dryer (because there are no clean towels or underwear), making sure the lawn doesn’t grow taller than the house (because it’s hard to notice things like the lawn when you are wholly overwhelmed)….
that’s only sustainable for so long before you just fucking cry. And yell. And curse.
I couldn’t even articulate my feelings this morning when my husband (who also works full-time, is a hands-on father, and engaged in our daily routine — but we are outnumbered here) woke up to me sobbing before sunrise. It was just that I had walked into the hallway bleary-eyed with the baby on my hip to go make coffee, and realized there were piles of clothes, strewn toys, stacks of school assignments, discarded shoes and jackets EVERYWHERE.
We had just spent the night before folding and putting away laundry, mopping floors, wiping counters, unloading the dishes, and all that jazz in hopes of waking up to a semi-tidy house. The kids participated too. They do daily (age-appropriate) chores.
But somehow in the midst of our living, and working, and tackling homework, and making dinner, and bath time….it was like we hadn’t done anything at all. This isn’t new. This is the hamster wheel we have been on since March. But today was the day that I broke down. I felt that wave of panic and overwhelm hit me like a ton of bricks, so I sat down in the middle of the kitchen, with the baby playing with plastic cups beside me, and sobbed. No more “strong mom” bullshit. I needed a good cry.
My husband wanted to be there for me and support me, but I just wanted space. I didn’t want to talk about my feelings. I just wanted to cry. So, I asked him to take the baby, and I squirreled myself away. I cried hard. And now here I am, rage typing this essay, because I know — I KNOW — I’m not alone here. I mean, I am alone, and I miss my friends so much, and that’s part of it too … but I know I’m not alone in these feelings. I know so many of my fellow moms are feeling this way too.
The daily tasks for parents — especially working moms — right now are insurmountable. We are juggling and juggling and juggling 24/7/365 even when there’s not a pandemic, but the pandemic has stripped away our support systems (our friends, our childcare, etc) which makes it even harder and more isolating. It’s necessary to do these hard things to keep our families — and especially the vulnerable people in our communities — as safe as possible. But it’s not fucking easy. And today was my turn to cry and melt down about it.
I still have a messy house, 4 kids, a full-time job, and virtual learning duties, so I’m not going to say that everything is all better now. I’m just going to tell you that if you are feeling this way, and like me you have been ashamed to let it all out because you are privileged to have a safe home, healthcare, and money for food and necessities, then I think it’s okay for you to cry and rage and release those emotions too.
Continue to protect your community, donate generously if you are able, show respect to teachers, wear your mask, and deep dive into some self-care and rest wherever/whenever you can freaking find it. And also, cry in the kitchen if you need to.