You wake up in the middle of the night if you were lucky enough to fall asleep. And you spend from 2 am to 4 am pondering what fresh hell you are living in today.
You inevitably fall back to sleep 20 minutes before your alarm goes off . And your mind remembers, yes there is still a global pandemic.
You make your coffee and try to stomach the news. Sometimes you make it through the paper without wanting to sob. Other days you toss it in the recylcing bin knowing no good will come from more depressing and stressful headlines.
And you hear the sound of your kids waking up and you brace yourself for what has started to feel like Groundhogs Day. And you try not to feel bad for thinking that because none of this is their fault. But the endlessness of it, the never having a moment to yourself of it is starting to break you.
You get first breakfast and second breakfast and you shuffle the newspapers away. You scroll your Facebook feed and wonder how we got to a place of arguing about masks and conspiracy theories and science. And you miss the days when social media didn’t feel like a chore.
You do yoga every day because it’s the only thing that is yours. And it keeps the scaries at bay for a bit.
You go to work or you don’t or you work from home. It’s all work these days. The laundry is endless and you never knew how endless dishes could be. And the kitchen is always a mess because someone is always eating something.
Where you once would have cared if your kids ate snacks at 10 am you now wave them to the snack cabinet while you get ready for a conference call.
The day is a series of snacks and meals and cleaning up and breaking up fights. And the days have all started to blur. Was it yesterday they fought over the toy boat or was that last week?
You text your friends to check-in. You make Marco Polo videos and see each other for a moment and while it’s nice to see faces it’s not quite the same. But you are grateful for them, grateful that you are all in this together. This loneliness would be a whole lot lonelier without them.
You miss things you never knew were missable. Buying “going out clothes”, back to school shopping, impromptu get-togethers, crowded bars, live music, the thrill of sending your kids to school, not worrying about grocery shopping.
You miss what it felt like not to worry about everything, every minute. You miss your everyday pre-COVID anxiety.
You look at your kids and think, “how did we get here, how is this happening to them”. You starkly realize how vastly different their childhoods will be. How there will be a line of pre-Covid and Covid. If they are old enough they will remember the before times and if they aren’t this will be the normal they remember.
And you try to come up with ways to make these historic, unprecedented, completely shitty days better for them. You have pretend birthday and donut Friday and Christmas in July and movie nights and snacks for dinner. And it all doesn’t feel like enough when you think of what they are losing.
You “tune in” to your school board meeting to see what they are planning, knowing full well that these are the people who should not be having to decifer local health policies and CDC guidelines and how to make kindergartners social distance. That these decisions should have been made by someone higher up, but no one is willing.
You watch your children wondering how much damage is all this doing? How are we screwing up our kids now?
You’ve run out of dinner ideas and you’ve gone from, “yay more time to cook” to “why, another meal to cook”.
But you do it. You cook another meal because even the early joy of take out cocktails has started to dull.
There is no break from bedtime or from any of the work. Sometimes you start at 6 am and find yourself still doing work in some form at 10pm. And once the kids are finally tucked in, your mind wanders to places you wish is wouldn’t. You’ve worn tired of virtual anything. You pour a glass of wine and open a book or turn on Netflix or you flip through your phone .
It’s only been 8 months but you can think about this pandemic in phases, the sheer panic of the early days and watching daily news briefings during the day and Tiger King at night to the Zoom happy hours and then the baking and the sourdough starters to the gardening and the start of socially distanced events.
And you are tired of shouldering it all. The emotions, the school work, the meal planning, the grocery shopping, the cleaning, the keeping up with the news. Somedays you want to break. Somedays you just want to cry. Somedays you go into the bathroom and shut the door and just let the tears be. You are not drowning but the water is slowly rising.
And you feel forgotten. There is so much talk of the suburban mom. “Suburban women could change the world” and you want to shout, “but they have no time”. Some mornings you want to plan a revolution and then by midday you are sobbing as your 9-year-old does gym class in his bedroom. This is unacceptable. So you pull yourself together and email your superintendent and your school board and your state representatives.
These days feel heavy and sometimes if you are lucky if it’s a good day. If the sun is just right and the wine is a perfect chill, and the children don’t fight and you laugh and maybe you see a friend or two and you smile and you let it all down for a moment and allow yourself to forget what being a mom in 2020 feels like.