Two years into this pandemic, and I’m struggling to find the words to describe it.
The past 745 days have felt like a rollercoaster. A sea of endless emotions and chaos. Zoom calls interrupted by toddlers running around half naked while sticky little fingers attempt to push send on an unfinished email are now a part of my workday. The lines between personal and professional have become completely blurred, and yet somewhere in the mix, we are told to find the perfect balance.
Let’s get one thing clear: Motherhood is enough to bring any woman to her knees on an average year. Throw in a pandemic and influx of uncertainty and you have yourself the perfect storm.
Women everywhere are feeling the pressure of juggling the role of employee, online learning tech support, teacher, housekeeper, cook, wife, daughter, friend, and mom. With fifteen balls in the air, we’re dropping ten of them at any given time.
And through it all, one word repeats in our head – failure.
This idea of being everything to everyone is both overwhelming and suffocating. It’s pushing women to the brink, only for society to tell us to push further and keep plowing through. Full transparency, I have ugly cried in the shower more times than I care to admit. I’ve broken down while teaching my son basic kindergarten over my inability to be both teacher and mother. Every decision, I question. Did I make the right choice? Are my kids falling behind? Am I picking up enough slack at work? Should I be cooking more and serving up frozen foods less?
And still we push forward. One foot in front of the other. Doubting ourselves at every turn, while wondering why we can’t seem to find our stride. One day the kids are in school, cases are down, and normalcy seems to be on the horizon. The next, we’re back to e-learning, scrambling for daycare, and praying we don’t get fired as we struggle to be both employee and mom.
And it’s here in this space of unknown and feelings of failure, we’re left to wonder – are we alone?
I never thought I would experience what one day will be talked about in history books, yet here we are. During a time when the world is deep within one of the largest pandemics in history, many of us are battling another giant. A silent one. A mental health crisis is not just looming, it’s here, knocking loudly at our doors. It’s affecting our children; it’s infiltrating our schools and our workplaces. Doctors are prescribing more anxiety and antidepressant medication than ever before.
Yet no one talks about it. No one wants to stand up in their mess and say, “me too.”
This message and agenda that society pushes regarding perfection is pointed directly at women. It’s as if someone were staring us right in the face asking, why can’t you? Why can’t you keep up? Why can’t you do it all? But I’m here to tell you it’s a farce. Now is not the time to crush your goals and hold yourself to unrealistic expectations.
Now is the time to give yourself grace, to offer up space to yourself to feel every emotion you’ve been trying so hard to suppress. To understand that you can’t be everything to everyone while leaving yourself with nothing.
When so many of us are hanging on by a thread, suffering in silence as we try to navigate the mental load of mothering through a pandemic, let me tell you what so many of us are desperate to hear.
You are not alone.
To the mother waking up long before the sun to answer emails and prepare for meetings while the kids sleep, only to play the role of teacher mid-day, and hit emails hard again in the evening…I see you. To the mother passing up career opportunities because right now your main priority is your family…I see you. To the mother making decisions that not everyone in your circle may agree with…I see you.
You’re not alone. As we’ve turned the calendar on another year only to find ourselves in the same place, working in pj’s and a messy bun, remember to go easy on yourself. We’re all one Ben & Jerry’s pint of ice cream from losing our minds and our waistlines. Call your friends, check on your loved ones and remind them - they’re not alone.