A year ago, if you told me I would spend an entire year at home in my pajamas, I would have laughed. I’m not a homebody. I like being out in the community, I like seeing people, and I like variety. Yet here we are, almost a full year spent in my own home and The Overture Center feels as far away as The Paris Opera House. I’ve spent the better part of a year in my pajamas and ironically I’ve never felt more exhausted.
Being a mother during a pandemic has been a unique test of endurance. It’s the dystopian version of the ‘Mom Game’ with no timeouts, no substitutes, and no rewards. It’s not even clear when the game will end, but quitting is not allowed. The frustrating part is that even though all moms are playing the same game, we are playing it in isolation. We used to get together for coffee and to share motherhood battle stories. It was empowering to know we were not alone in our struggles. Now in place of those coffee dates we are scrolling through social media posts that highlight mostly motherhood wins and productivity porn. It can make it feel like you are the only one losing the battle to maintain sanity during the pandemic. But I promise you, you are not!
We are all living and re-living the monotonous days of pretend play, virtual school, constant food prep, emotional management, and clean up. And many of us are simultaneously trying to work jobs and maintain some semblance of our non-mommy selves. Some days we are winning, some days we just barely manage to tread water, and some days we just take the loss. The important part is that you are still trying, still doing it. This is so hard!
As exhausting as it is, I still find it hard to fall asleep at night. Maybe it’s because I can’t shut my mind off from considering the barrage of craziness. Or maybe it’s just that with my children home all the time, night brings such a rare opportunity for silence that the silence is oddly deafening. Maybe those are both the same thing? Whatever. But when I lie awake at night, I often wonder what my children will remember from this period in our life, what will stand out in their minds, and how that will be different from what I remember. I’ve always been fascinated when hearing my own mother recount stories from my childhood. Her perspective on certain moments is very different from what I saw through my naive childhood lens. What will my 8-year-old remember from that time she went to school on the computer for an entire year? And then my 3-year-old probably won’t even remember most of this pandemic. How strange is that!
For my own part, I just couldn’t let this year go by without documenting it in the best way I know how – with photographs. I wanted to preserve my perspective as a mom for my children. So when they look back on the pandemic as adults, and possibly as mothers themselves, they can see it through my eyes. They’ll see the highs and lows, the joy and the despair, the effort and exhaustion, and the love that got us through those exhausting days in our pajamas.
Thanks for following along in a day in the life… A True Quarantine Photo Diary for 2020/21.
All photos contributed by Julia Matthews Photography
Julia grew up in east Tennessee, went to college in Nashville where she met her husband, took a two-year pit stop in South Bend, Indiana, and ended up making her home in Madison, Wisconsin. Even though she has lived in Wisconsin for almost nine years, she is still adjusting to the cold Wisconsin winters and struggling to figure out just how much time to allow for shoveling her way out of the driveway. Oh, and she is the mother of two wild and funny girls. Julia is a family photographer who is passionate about capturing real life moments in all their imperfect beauty.