I'm "Losing it" in Self-Isolation with Two Young Children
It's been two weeks since my blog post about our home schooling plans for this temporary stay-at-home situation with Covid-19. I'll be honest, I wrote out that blog post from a very genuine and hopeful place. I was feeling energized, creative, and grateful. We had (have!) many blessings in our lives to count, and we are, for now, virus-free. So all should be well in the land of the marooned mother, correct?
I'll go ahead and say it in case some of you out there are feeling it, too: Am I the only one who isn't turning out to be the mother they hoped they'd be in quarantine? I had the very best intentions, I swear. But with every day that starts as a weary morning of rolling my always-exhausted body out of bed to the shouts and whines of two young children... and on into another slow-burn of homeschooling, feeding endless snacks, cleaning the messes that seem to recreate themselves... I am losing that exuberance.
Scratch that. I have lost it. I have lost it all.
I have lost the light at the end of the tunnel that told me the children would be going back to school before this year was over and that in the meantime, I would use my Bachelor's Degree and Zest for Life to teach them important things in a low-stress, high-fun environment at our kitchen table and in the backyard.
I have lost the creative impulse to turn cardboard objects into fun and fresh toys or projects -- a skill that is useful at both abating whine level and reducing waste output between Thursday pickups, as our local recycling center is now officially closed.
I have lost the precious few hours or even minutes of my day that used to exist for me only. I have not showered alone, done yoga without an audience, or even slept through a single night without small hands, feet, and strands of hair encroaching on my personal space. (IlovethemIlovethemIlovethemIjustneedabreak!!!!!!)
I have lost the old theater nerd buried deep within, the one who spent Night One of this nightmare sketching out ideas for little plays and puppet shows I could perform for and with the children. When she left, my inner theater nerd took my marginally acceptable singing voice and my last shred of patience with her. They've all officially left the building. Too bad this is the only building I am currently allowed to be in.
I have lost my ability to empathize with mean strangers who fight over nonsense in Facebook groups. And since I've also lost my opportunity to hang out with other adult humans in real life, Facebook groups are about all the social interaction I have right now! This is a problem.
I have lost my gracious smile while scrolling Instagram and seeing your adorable chalk-painted sunroom accent table, the elaborate crafts you've concocted for your own children every single day in isolation. You don't mean to, but you're making me feel inferior over here, ladies! (Seriously - are your kids just better sleepers than mine? Better... people? Because I do not understand why all these Instagram moms seem so happy and relaxed right now. My idea of cultivating an art-forward activity these days includes Googling coloring sheets on my phone and sending them directly to the printer. Then I call out, "Go get your coloring sheets!" and a barefooted scramble ensues. So, too, does an approximate twenty-second break for yours truly).
I have lost my car keys twice, which doesn't really matter because I can't go anywhere but it is also baffling and annoying. I have lost my favorite mascara and when I do eventually find it, I will probably cry out of gratitude to the universe for the small things. And then not put any on because that would be wasteful and fruitless in a time like this.
Speaking of which, I have lost my sense of time (but not of place! Believe me... I know exactly where TF I am right now).
In short, I believe I have lost my mind. It is buried somewhere between the denim shorts I can no longer zip (I have absolutely NOT lost weight -- yikes!) and the belief that I will ever have an hour alone to myself again.
I appreciate and love that all of you better mothers out there are cleaning out all of your closets and teaching fractions via the baking of cookies. (I did one closet and lost interest; baked one batch and lost my temper). I am not bitter but in awe. I love that your homey, all-encompassing mommyness compels you to homeschool with aplomb, to keep them entertained with a constant running list of cool activities. (I lost track of where we were in my self-guided lesson plan and gave up on Day Three; lost any connection to my formerly creative stay-at-home toddler entertainer roots and am now just winging it).
Please keep posting your adorable scavenger hunt ideas and found-object crafts because I know there are women out there who love the inspiration, who need the hope, and who will take the advice. But as for me, I'll be taking it day by day, hour by hour, until this stagnant period of stay-at-home chaos is over. Hurling myself forward one cozy pair of sweatpants, one home-brew cup of coffee, one piece of leftover pizza at a time
Don't get me wrong ... I love my family, I am grateful to have them, and will continue to spend every day cuddling with my girls and doing my best to make light of this for them. I get how lucky we are to be safe at home when so many are out there fighting this chaotic virus and saving its victims. I have not lost perspective.
But as for the parenting bar? The one-upping over who's the best quarantine mommy? I'm out. I withdraw my application. I'll be kissing foreheads and counting stars in my mascara-free glory over here... and snuggling up with them on the couch with Disney Plus as often as I want or need to. Because if there's one thing I'm glad to have lost in quarantine, it's any adherence to the old rules about screen time.
Stay sane, Mamas! We've got this.