Being a Mom in a Pandemic Is the Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done
Some days I find myself watching the clock too often, waiting for my kids’ bedtime. I really hate myself those days, knowing that I’m anxiously awaiting the moment they are tucked into bed.
I really am obsessed with my children, just like every mother. I take every opportunity to hug and kiss them and remind them that I love them. But I am crushed under my burdens these days. And I know as a working mother, I am not alone here.
It’s been several months since my children have been stuck at home and out of in-person learning, and in those months, I have played the part of planner, house manager, chef, scheduler, accountant, homeschool teacher, and counselor to loved ones both in and outside the home. I have held my daughter tight more than once as she has sobbed in her bed, crying about missing her friends and her activities. All of these stresses in addition to my career where I play frontline doctor, administrator, educator, budding researcher, informaticist, and emailer extraordinaire.
I admit that a deficit in time, a lack of creativity, and stress are my biggest enemies with respect to parenting. When school was still in person, I took things for granted — I never felt I did enough to educate my kids outside of their schoolwork or further engage their minds. The part of my brain for arts and crafting is completely out of service. While I was so stressed by virtual learning, when school is partially in person it will be no better. Because I will still have to juggle our schedules and think of ways to fill their days outside of nonstop screen time.
I am doing a little bit of so many things, and I am doing none of them well.
I am more exhausted than I have ever been in my life. I find myself frustrated, impatient, my mind overflowing with an endless to-do list. During a time when there is so much to teach my kids to ensure they grow up to be good humans, I can barely muster the energy. When my six-year-old doesn’t understand discussions of racism I find myself frustrated rather than just telling myself she is young and this will just be something I have to ingrain in her daily. But attempting to do anything daily, or even a few days a week, seems to result in failure.
I have always been a multitasker but this is beyond what my mind can take for much longer while still walking around with a smile and an air of politeness. I am doing a little bit of so many things, and I am doing none of them well. The day I realized that mothering was one of the things I was doing poorly, was a day I have found hard to reckon with.
The problem is, like most mothers, I can do anything if I know the end is near. But the truth is that just because things are opening up, that doesn’t mean life for working mothers are going to get any better. I hope at least during the school year, there will be a curriculum keeping the children learning and their minds engaged during the week.
Just because things are opening up, that doesn’t mean life for working mothers are going to get any better.
The pit in my stomach just continues to grow bigger. How will I continue to focus on my work and be creative in the ways I entertain them when so much is still restricted? While I have some options for my six-year-old, my four-year-old who already needed extra sensory regulation and input prior to the pandemic, or will they continue to suffer because many extracurriculars and classes do not want the liability of caring for smaller kids who are bacterial cesspools.
So I lay awake at night unable to sleep, torturing myself. The worries in my mind are so loud they seem impossible to drown out. With each passing day my imposter syndrome rules, causing me to feel more and more like a failure in every realm of life — as a mother, a doctor, a leader, a house manager. I look in the mirror only to see a rapidly aging woman with graying hair, dark circles, and deepening lines of stress.
I would love to be successful at it all, but I’m not sure how much longer pandemic life will go on. And the longer it goes on the more unlikely that pan-success will be an achievable goal for working moms. But in the end, one thing I know for sure is that if this goes on for months, I will accept failing it all — except for mothering.