“Uh huh. Yep. Oh yes. Fascinating.”
I try to appear as though I’m fully engaged on this Zoom call with a client, out in New York.
Meanwhile, my daughter is on the toilet, yelling at me to wipe her bum.
I’m trying so hard to wrap it up.
I’m trying so hard to say all the things that will bring this conversation to an end. “So, in conclusion….” and “Well, this was great.”
The screaming escalates to a full-on cry fest.
“Moommmmmmyyyyyy! I neee-heeee-heeee-heeee-heeeeeeed you!”
Finally. The call ends. And I storm into the bathroom.
“I’m here. Just chill!”
If I were forced to come up with a few variations of what hell looks like…..this would be one of them.
Trying to focus. Trying to do adult things. Trying to earn a living.
And there is a child who has somehow gotten a hold of a glue stick and has decided to “paint” all of her Barbies with it….over in the next room.
Quarantine life is one hell of a life-fuck.
And yes, we are all doing our part here. And oh the joys of more family time.
But, Jesus. There has got to be some kind of scale out there that can measure the affect this is having on our mental health.
Is this reeeeallly the better option, guys?
The number of times I’ve exclaimed….. “I never signed up to be a full-time teacher!”
“Stop stealing marshmallows! I can hear you in there!”
“For the love of God, don’t spray my laptop with the hose!”
It is a juggling act beyond all juggling acts.
And the worst part? The guilt that goes along with it.
The feeling of having to ignore your children. And yet somehow keep them busy, educated, and off the couch for more than 5 minutes at a time.
The feeling of failure. Like I’m not keeping up. Like I’m being a horrible mom. AND a horrible business owner.
My kids are constantly glued to screens.
And yet somehow, I’m STILL not getting any work done.
I’m making 23 snacks a day. It’s all I do.
That, and make in-app purchases. Seriously? You need to buy that hot air balloon in order to keep playing the game? I guess.
(Maybe it will buy me 10 more minutes)
In order to cope, I end up working at crazy hours of the day. 5 am. 11 pm. Because half my morning is spent getting gum out of my daughter’s hair.
I feel like I’m not doing anything well. Because my life has been thrown into a blender, and put on high-speed.
And it’s messy as fuck.
This pandemic has turned me into such an asshole mom. I snap. I loose my temper. I (maybe) give my son the finger behind his back, because he’s humming the Jurassic Park theme song for hours on end.
I have silent screams in the bathroom.
And I give time-outs like candy-canes on Christmas.
I would love to resign to the fact that….if I keep them alive, that is sufficient. But somehow I can’t.
Mom guilt is bad at the best of times. Now? I feel a bit like the Wicked Witch of the East. Flattened like a pancake.
I struggle to get by. And I tell myself….if you just set down this guilt. Shelve it. You’ll be much better off.
You’re doing the best you can.
And I try. But it keeps sneaking in the back door.
I don’t remember parenting ever feeling this difficult.
And truly? It is pure madness.
Especially when the only thing I’m eating is…..peanut butter sandwiches for lunch…..again.
And what’s crazy? Is I start layering guilt on top of guilt, like a nightmarish taco dip.
I feel guilt about secretly wanting to escape to the woods, and just stick this thing out by myself.
I feel guilt about wanting to be free of my children.
Guilt for not savouring these moments, like I’m supposed to.
And it’s because I’m falling short of my own impossible ideals.
Lower the bar, babe.
And while you’re there? Grab a glass of wine.
When this is all over, we’re all gonna get t-shirts that say, I Survived the COVID-19 outbreak. And no one will be more deserving, than parents.
And when that day comes, I hope I can say that one of the biggest lessons I learned from this whole thing, is how to have a little self-compassion. How to make good use of my emotional energy. How to be ok with “good enough.”
Because Jesus, we’re all just trying to steer our way through this crisis. One plate of Oreos at a time.