After gracing me with their non-stop presence since March 13th, two of my three children will be returning to school on a modified schedule on November 30th. I don’t think I have EVER felt this excited. It’s like Christmas is coming early.
In the time of Covid-19, I’m willing to bet the common denominator that links us all is that two or three or twenty thousand times, we have lost our marbles. If you have, at any point in the past eight months, felt anxious, frantic, frazzled, or even flat-out crazy, you’re in good company.
The Juggle Is Real
Being a mother is tough enough without any outside challenges throwing a wrench in our game. But since Covid so hastily shoved its way into our lives, mom life has really put us through the wringer. Juggling various roles and tasks is par for the course, but having to wear multiple hats at the same time?! It’s legit impossible. Somehow I’ve come out on the other side of this whole distance learning/working from home gig alive (it’s not over yet, just slowly getting better), but for honesty sake, it’s been a real sh*t show.
Before the pandemic hit, I was a well-oiled machine. That’s not to say I didn’t occasionally feel worn down by the demands of daily life. BUT, for the most part, I had a predictable routine. “Me” time occurred pretty regularly, whether it was going for a quick dinner date with a good friend, teaching classes at my local gym, or eating lunch every day in silence (what does that even feel like?! I have forgotten). While at work, I would wear my teacher hat, proudly and efficiently. The drive to pick up my baby from daycare afforded me necessary time to switch from teacher mode to mom mode. Plus, I had two full days a week where I stayed home and focused entirely on running a household and being a mother. My life was like an organized closet, each aspect of myself folded neatly within its designated cubby. My roles were clear and separate, and things made sense.
Let me just say, when work, school and home life collide, things get MESSY. It’s like all the colors start to blend together, except the final result is not a portrait to behold; rather, life looks something akin to a two year-old’s muddy finger painting. Clutter, chaos and confusion abound. Who am I right now? I might ask myself while Zooming with students and simultaneously whisper-yelling to my daughter that no, she may not have another snack.
My life was like an organized closet, each aspect of myself folded neatly within its designated cubby.
Now, my kitchen table is both my desk and the home for my son’s Magnatile creations.
On any given day, my toddler might wake early from her nap and decide to join me for Zoom class; Boss Baby is no longer just a cute cartoon my kids like to watch.
I’ve given up trying to keep my five year-old contained in his room while I teach. It’s inevitable that he will have a technology issue or need help finding a “lost” paper. And on Wednesdays-dreaded-Wednesdays, I become ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE. It’s a circus act, really, trying to attend Zoom meetings, hold Zoom Intervention for failing students, help my own kids with their independent work, and keep that darned toddler entertained (BIG shout-out to “Cocomelon” for being my co-parent, ILYSM).
I wish I could say that I have found a magical solution for efficiently managing my new reality. The truth is that it takes a village to keep this machine running. I am so grateful for the people in my life who have added some calm to my crazy. Navigating through this strange, stressful time wouldn’t be possible without heaps of support (lookin’ at you, Mama).
Home Is Where The Clutter Is
WAY back in the dark ages—you know, before Covid—I had a moderately clean house on any given day. A couple dishes in the sink, a few toys scattered on a bedroom surface, maybe a shirt or two that needed to be hung up.
But now I find myself picking up a pile of something or rather and then, to my dismay, turning my head to discover that a new pile of crap has magically been produced in 2.5 seconds. Scurrying from mess to mess in an effort to maintain a somewhat clean living space is driving me to insanity. Honestly, I have given up trying.
And the random cracker wrappers? Besides the fact that my children think my kitchen cupboards are free vending machines that offer them 24/7 access to unlimited snacks, it seems that they also believe the floor to be their convenient collector of garbage. I promise you I have taught my children how to throw their trash away. I think we’ve all just become a little too comfortable.
These days, being intentional has all but flown out the window.
For someone like me, a neat freak who has no chill when it comes to clutter, living this way has been a total mind f*&!. You would think I would have established some effective systems by now. Maybe some cutesy little checklists taped to my kids’ bedroom doors that they could tick off every time they completed a task. Or some fun rewards for finishing their chores and getting their school work done. Bonus points for making their beds and brushing their teeth without me asking. In theory, this all sounds well and good, and pre-Covid me would have been all over it.
But these days, being intentional has all but flown out the window. I mean, for Pete’s sake, sometimes my best is eating Halloween candy for lunch. By the time I finish teaching and lesson planning—or on my days off, wrestling a toddler while also trying to keep her fed, quiet and entertained during “school hours”— I’m truly beat. I have accepted what a luxury it is that I used to leave my home for hours, and then return to it just as clean as I left it. I’ve surrendered to the fact that every day at 11:10 when school ends for my son, I will be walking into a war zone. Imagine an explosion of markers, glue and a thousand microscopic fragments of construction paper. Yup, home school at its finest. And I’ve learned to stop being embarrassed about the piles of clutter that my second grader’s teacher sees heaped on her floor every day.
In a nutshell, I have made peace with the fact that Covid transformed me from a mostly happy, intentional mom to a yelling, frazzled, survival-mode mom.
Just A Little Stir-Crazy
Maybe the hardest aspect of life lately has been feeling trapped inside of my own home. I’m actually a major homebody, but I never realized how much I would miss hopping in my car on a whim and driving somewhere, whether it was to a play date or to Disneyland (aka Target). I miss taking morning walks with friends. I miss the PURE BLISS that is driving strapped-in children to their various activities. More time in the car = less messes. Just this morning, I grabbed my little one and we went on an “excursion” to my kids’ school a couple of blocks away to pick up more school supplies. Don’t tell the mom police, but instead of rushing back home to make sure my older kiddos were still alive, I took a little detour and blasted Christmas music the whole time. This was such a little thing, but honestly, it gave me a chance to breathe.
Oh Covid, you sure have offered me a wealth of writing material as of late. I’m actually sick of writing about you and all the ways you’ve shaken up my life. I’m going to make it my New Year’s Resolution to stop writing about you. Bless you, dear reader, for putting up with my incessant venting.
But really: To all the moms who have been the stars of your own circus acts, putting up with unlimited messes while trying to stay sane, and waking up in the morning wondering HOW just HOW you will get through another day of this madness, I SEE YOU. We are all dealing with our own unique stressors under the umbrella of Covid. WITHOUT A DOUBT, though, it is not in vain. Individually and collectively we are becoming stronger and more flexible. We are more grateful, more compassionate, and perhaps more appreciative of teachers and schools. And when once I would have cried—screamed, even—now I have learned to laugh. Because really, what is life right now if not utterly and completely comical?
ELEVEN more days and I will get some semblance of normalcy back. I’m praying for all you mamas out there, wherever you are in your own personal sh*t shows. And kiddos, I sure love you. But I’m also MORE than ready to let you exit the nest for a few hours each day. Now…FLY.