The Isolation from One Mom's Perspective
So here we are, huh? We find ourselves in a place where none of us has ever been before. Our world is currently paralyzed, suspended in a space of doubt, unknown, and uncertainty. It has been nothing short of a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least.
I am lucky to be in West Michigan where our curve is flattening. I am lucky to be able to stay home. I am lucky that my husband is able to stay home. We are fortunate to have work, food, internet access, and the opportunity to connect virtually to friends and family. Even with all our good fortune, it comes with new challenges.
As many of us face new challenges, new workloads, and a new normal, I am taking solace in the knowledge that, as those who mother, we can do it. We can do it because we are moms. As moms, we are used to juggling a near impossible to-do list that requires us to be assertive in the face of uncertainty. We know how to manage the big emotions of others even when our own emotions feel nearly insurmountable. We know that our people need us and we don't have a lot of time for breaking down or giving up. Whether you're still in the newborn and younger toddler phase or well past it, you likely know the feeling of social isolation and desperate need for community from those early days. As we move forward, we are each working in individual ways to build bridges of togetherness.
We have made some adjustments to what was. We now meet virtually with friends through video applications; send old-fashioned snail mail; and connect more intentionally through email and social media. We need to lean on each other as we each carve out time for self-care, self-compassion, and self-preservation. We can help encourage each other to find ways to play and feel independence in this time of too-close closeness at home. We will help each other maintain a sense of sanity, create a sense of accountability, find the right balance, and ensure we never stop laughing (I mean, if we weren't laughing, we'd be crying our eyes out all day long, right?).
The days may not feel pretty. It is hard to feel successful when your boss is a toddler, tween, or teenager and the metrics are murky. Now more than ever the cracks in the perfect parenting façade are in the spotlight. It’s time to throw out the notion of perfect parenting, or heck even good parenting. It's time to find our own way, and get out the plaster to start patching cracks where we can.
I have found one glaringly obvious crack in my façade is a self-care and self-preservation plan built like a house of cards. I plan to start addressing that by carving out a daily time and space where I can be just me – not a mom, not a wife, not a teacher. It won’t be a fancy space and I won’t get to spend a long time there, but still I’ll aim to find a dedicated little corner of my world just for me. (And yes, I say start. It has taken me three weeks of quarantine to process and move forward with healthy habits again.)
I’ve seen a reminder popping up around the Internet this week and it resonates with me more now than ever. It is the notion that we may be struggling and yet struggling does not mean we are failing. So whether you’re barely surviving or you're already thriving, know that there is solidarity in this as we face our new world of alone-together.
I trust that we will make it through this temporary phase of isolation and reach a long-term new normal eventually. When we do, there will be broken pieces to pick up for years to come. For now the global focus stays on the very real threat of a highly contagious and elusive disease decimating the world. My personal focus remains on my own household and establishing a rhythm for where we find ourselves now.
While I concentrate on the rhythm and my need for a teeny bit of space, there are many, many moments where the walls begin to close in and I feel touched-out by 9 am. So to the scientists, doctors, nurses, and all medical professionals working to lead the way out of this: thank you. And thank you from a mom's point of view for working so tirelessly and quickly because as Adam Sandler sings in his new number called, “Quarantine Song:”
“Doctors and nurses will save us from this mess ... and I hope they save us soon because I'm really, really sick of my family."
P.S. I also want to mention that this is not a mom blog and I don’t mean to be exclusive to moms or those who mother. I think there are all different sets and subsets of our communities now experiencing their own challenges. My personal challenges fall mostly into the new balance of motherhood and personal identity so that is my perspective.