My Breath Stinks in my Mask: Plus 5 More Things I Have Learned During the Pandemic

pandemic mother

  1. I am a better mom when I have a 6-hour break from kids every day. Or any break really. I mean, I already knew this about myself because we don’t send our kids to daycare, and the moment they turned 3 and went to part-day nursery school, I became Mary Freaking Poppins. We will send the 4 oldest back to school in the fall, and I may have a countdown calendar on my bedroom wall.
  2. I am a better wife when I have an 8-hour break from my husband every day. This one surprised me. We have been in such a busy season of our life the past few years with career growth and changes and kids in eleventy billion activities. Some days we only had the chance to sort of fist-bump in the hockey rink parking lot or wave at each other across the dance studio when one of us relieved the other to go pick up a thousand kids at the baseball diamond. But after a year of being home together EVERY SINGLE DAY, we are running out of things to talk about after bedtime. I don’t have to ask how his day went BECAUSE I KNOW ALREADY. Sometimes we tell each other about comments we made on mutual friends’ social media posts. Next year, post pandemic, when we are back on our respective college campuses, we cannot wait to miss each other like crazy and spend quality time every night catching up over a glass of wine.
  3. I hate extra-curricular activities. I mean, ok, I sort of guessed this one, but like most middle-class American moms, I felt duty-bound to sign my snowflakes up for every single thing that interested them because college applications someday! We dropped all activities except for Zoom dance class last March, and it has been a dream. We eat together every single night at our kitchen table—all 7 of us—and we play games, even. Our favorites are Cards Against Humanity Family Edition and Trivial Pursuit Family Edition. We also like Picwits, Never Have I Ever Family Edition, and good old-fashioned twenty questions. Without the evening drop-off and pick-up gauntlet, everyone goes to bed at the right time. Our baby never falls asleep in the car in her pajamas, and we don’t have to rush to clean up dinner, fold laundry, or do any of the household tasks that used to fall squarely on my shoulders in the middle of the nighttime rush. I kind of never want this to end, but Little League season is upon us, and I am so happy the kids can finally play outside sports again.
  4. I am just as introverted as I always thought I was. I miss long lunches with friends, movies with a big group, and double dates at fancy restaurants. But maybe not as much as other people do? I cherish my group texts and my college friends Zoom and a couple of virtual book clubs, and that? Feels just people-y enough. Pandemic me is happy as a shut in, and no one can tell I haven’t had a hair cut since 2019.
  5. Happiness is a long walk with a baby strapped to my chest in her Ergo and an audio book playing at double-time on my Air Pods. I really don’t need anything more to get a workout or an endorphin rush. I have worn the treads off 2 pairs of shoes in the past year, and rain, shine, or freezing temps, I have pounded the pavement, first with my baby on the inside and then, since August, with her bundled next to me. What a gift these walks have been—a pandemic habit I will keep forever.

I know I have ridden out this pandemic on my giant pile of privilege, and even though we miss our extended family terribly, the 7 of us have been cozy and content, happily safer at home. I know that my experience is not typical, and my complaints are trivial. What about you? Has the past year taught you anything surprising about yourself?

Sarah Jedd
Sarah Jedd has a Ph.D. in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches and studies the rhetoric of Planned Parenthood. Sarah has 5 (F I V E) children: teens Harry and Jack, elementary schoolers Cooper and Dorothy, and sweet baby Minnie, born in August 2020. Sarah blogs about being a mom of many at harrytimes.com and overshares on IG as @sarahjedd. Sarah, her husband, and their kids live in Verona with the world's laziest dog.

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