Trust me—it’s not just you. NO ONE has their ish entirely together in this pandemic. I mean, there’s literally no need to clean the house because NO ONE IS COMING OVER. So, you just sort of scoot stuff out of the corner that has the best light and take all your pictures right there. Then you smack a Lightroom preset on them. BAM! You win quarantine.
No, really. You are FOR SURE not the only person who is terrible at supervising virtual learning. It’s really hard to reinforce that your kid needs to sit still and watch the screen when they are surrounded by toys and snacks and distractions. The teacher behind the screen is never as wonderful and warm and engaging and fun as the one on the classroom. It’s OK that your elementary schooler is acting out – everyone’s elementary schooler is acting out. Zoom playdates are the worst, and THEY KNOW IT.
You are not the only person who feels like a total failure at work, either. It is hard to find a semi-quiet room to take a call or a background that doesn’t look like your audition video for Hoarders. It’s impossible not to worry if your coworkers know that when you only show yourself from the neck up, that means you are nursing an infant just below the camera lens and at least 85% of your mental energy is focused on NOT SHOWING YOUR NIPPLES TO YOUR COLLEAGUES. You are not the only person daydreaming of that office you have somewhere quiet across town, the one with the dead plants and your favorite sweater still hanging on a hook and that desk chair that doesn’t make your old lady back feel broken.
You are not the only wife who feels jealous of her husband. He somehow has staked out workspace in a room with a door that shuts, and when you are sitting on the floor of the nursery hunched over your work computer, shaking a squeaky toy at your baby like she’s a puppy and typing furiously with the other hand, your children approach you with yogurt tubes that need opening and tell you they couldn’t ask daddy because he is working. This is patriarchy, and you used to want to crush it, but now you just want to be it because it looks relaxing.
You are not the only person who has been serving the same 5 meals a week because your curbside grocery cart is on auto-renew and has been FOR NINE MONTHS. You are not the only mom with kids who just get dressed in the laundry room because that’s where the clothes live now. Are they clean? Are they dirty? WHO CARES WE NEVER SEE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. You are not the only mom who uses the TV babysitter as the third parent—the patient, fun parent, in fact.
You are not the only mom who reads earnest think pieces about how all of this time home with children otherwise old enough to be in school all day is a gift and the true silver pandemic lining and feels guilty-slash-ragey. It’s true that having big kids home all day is the best thing about 2020, but it’s hard to appreciate your teens without thinking of everything they’re missing– things like parties and football games and the soul-crushing awkwardness of middle and high school live and in person. Your 14-year-old should not be so excited about going to Target to pick up a curbside order. He also should not ride with his head out the passenger window and spend his afternoons begging your husband to throw him a ball in the yard. IS HE A TEENAGER OR A GOLDEN RETRIEVER? Does it even matter anymore?
You are not the only person whose pants don’t fit anymore—the stretchy pants, I mean. Pro-Tip: ANY LEGGINGS CAN FEEL LIKE SPANX LEGGINGS 9 months into a global pandemic, so save your cash, moms. You aren’t the only mom who is constantly breaking up kid fights, constantly running the dishwasher, constantly tripping over other people’s shoes, constantly picking up crumpled socks and LEGO heads that only you can see, apparently.
What I am saying is this: We are all doing the best we can, and if it seems like the best we can isn’t good enough? That’s because we are in an impossible situation right now, and good enough is a really high bar. That’s it—the whole TL;DR. You are fine. This is fine. We are all going to be fine. Soon, we will all be complaining about driving our kids to eighty million after-school activities and having to get dressed up for work meetings and fighting with our spouses about whose family to see when over the holidays. And I for one? Can’t wait. Until then, treat your kids like really demanding house plants, and make sure they have water and food and all the sunlight you can find. And save some for yourself, too. You deserve it.