On Mother’s Day this year, a close relative told me what a gift this quarantining time has been for mothers, what with all this additional time with the kids.
Although well-intended, I’m fairly certain she has no clue what’s really happening.
Only once before was I so harried by a comment. While dating my now husband, I was out with his friends. I lovingly teased about how his snoring had kept me up the night prior. His friend told me that I’ll learn to love it and miss it when he doesn’t snore—all women do. And here I am, ten years later, feeling the exact same way about the snoring. I poke and prod him while and I toss and turn, anxiously awaiting an upgraded house with a spare bedroom.
As a full-time working mother with young kids, I find it especially difficult to spot the blessing here. Successfully balancing a career and kids right now is out of reach. With my husband still going away to work 45 hours a week, juggling my job and childcare is happening at an intensity that has never before existed.
I never imagined squeezing in this volume of homework, meals, clean up, and screen time — all while working. The lack of self-care, combined with slime and crumbled Oreos in carpets, filthy toilets and sinks, food coloring and glue soup on brand new towels, has me fighting a battle I never thought I’d fight. (Oh, and I can’t forget the messages from my daughter’s Kindergarten teacher, checking in because no homework is getting done. Sigh.)
In my role at a parenting magazine, I see blogs and posts about all the best isolation activities with kids: organizing scavenger hunts, setting up an at-home classroom, achieving insane crafts and baking projects. And every day, I deal with waves of guilt and the resignation that my kids can’t have that caretaker right now. And if I’m being honest, I’m not currently doing anything well at all.
So sure, I’m technically spending more time than ever with my kids, but watching them stare at a tablet or play in the yard while I work isn’t what I had in mind. Parenting has never been harder – for the kids and parents alike. Parents (many mothers) are scrambling to keep their jobs while caring for their children.
So in the time of coronavirus, instead of assuming mothers see this time as a gift, consider that millions of mothers out there see this as something far, far different. We are all fighting battles and people never know one’s true situation.
But like many moms, I’m doing all I can to stay positive and find the silver linings in this. The spontaneous belly laughing, outlandish wardrobe choices, and the audacious dance moves are just a few. My personal favorite? A solicited handhold on a neighborhood walk.