The beginning of the pandemic in most people’s minds was mid-March 2020. It is hard to think that was over three years ago! We all remember it well, and for many, especially the long haulers, it never ended. Not to ever downplay the severity of the illness so many suffered. However, it appears there is a whole other population that the pandemic permanently affected. And somehow, it has become the new normal.
The long-haul effect on moms and caregivers is seemingly glossed over. Moms (or the primary caregiver in the home) who kept the entire “ship” steaming ahead during that time are still exhausted and almost without words to explain why.
We all nodded in unison when we came up for air, and the prospect of being huddled in one space for so long created a sense of comfort. But for many, it meant very tiny spaces, once designed for just a quick meal or bedtime, were also used for sleeping, eating, educating, socialization, and recreation.
We all pivoted to directly monitoring and overseeing our children’s daily education and working simultaneously from home. But for some caregivers, this was not new. I have been working from home for 20 years. Zoom wasn’t a thing back then, but we had other web streaming programs.
Working from home with kids underfoot wasn’t new for me either. I recall having a sick baby on my chest while I walked up and down the hallway with a headset on, taking my conference calls. And after talking to moms and dads, this has been the new norm for years. It seems the traditional “sick day” had taken a back seat.
Once the pandemic hit, it was simply another heavy layer of parenting duties in a world where stop, drop, and roll were our existing routines.
Having to put aside fears and exhaustion just to get “it” done at the time doesn’t mean the trauma ever went away. So here we are, past the worst medical part of the pandemic. But we never dealt with the initial issue.
Moms have always had too much on their plates, even before the pandemic.
Moms are so commonly made to feel they cannot say no that some memes joke about saying no passively or without feeling ashamed. The more moms I talk to, the more I hear, “I am told to go do something for myself, but where is the time to organize that? and, “Why do you make everything so overly complicated? Just ask for help!”
I recently went to dinner with my three closest friends for a much overdue, amazing, and savory dinner. To do so, I had to propose six possible dates to get a mutual date, realizing afterward that my sons both had events at 7 p.m. that night. So, I arranged rides via favors from mom friends. Yes, I was exhausted before I even got close to the actual dinner out! That’s not just “call a friend.” That’s a 4-step plan!
Like most seasoned moms, I am not trying to earn Mom of the Year status. I am simply trying to find the joy in the little things.
Fast forward a few years since the pandemic, and parents were flung back into everything starting back up again in life. But it didn’t start. We were launched like a rocket ship back, and yet, the expectations were so much higher.
We can’t go through a traumatic period and be expected to continue as if it never happened. So, let’s return to being a bit kinder to one another, give each other a bit of grace again, and allow ourselves to say no to things that don’t serve us. And finally, maybe say yes a bit more to the things that do.