Three months ago, my family and I were wrapping up the trip of a lifetime in Europe. We took a cruise that departed and returned to the port just outside of Rome, Italy. One month ago, I started to realize how lucky we were to have the experience we did before all the craziness of quarantine began. I don’t know about you, but if you had asked me during that vacation how I would be coping with the Corona Virus quarantine, I would have laughed. Call me naive, but I never would have bet on a pandemic affecting me or my loved ones. Cut to today where schools are closed, work is very different, and uncertainty seems to be the theme for the foreseeable future.
As we all adjust to our new normal, no matter what kind of mother you are, your life undoubtedly has become more complicated. I wanted to write this to send all the mamas out there a virtual hug and remind you that you are doing a great job however you are coping with the challenges this quarantine will bring for your family. I know the struggle is (actually) real and I know you are probably not giving yourself enough credit for miracles you are pulling off each day. Please consider that it is unreasonable to hold yourself to the same standard you did prior to the pandemic.
Mothers are so often the engine of a home. We have built systems, plans, schedules, and routines to keep life for our family running smoothly. This new development has thrown a wrench into the works. The fact is, whatever type of mother you are, working or not, you had support in place to keep your family thriving. As we settle into this new way of life, I want you to take a minute to observe that this new normal of ours does not provide the support we need to accomplish the same level of productivity in any area we were previously while firing on all cylinders.
During our first week of quarantine my husband was still required to be in the office as essential personnel. I had meetings that had been on the books for nearly a month that I really needed to make happen. Wouldn’t you know my daughter woke up with the stomach flu. I conducted the entire conference call while holding a bowl for my daughter to blow chunks into. I am sorry for the graphic description, but I want you to try and imagine how you would portray confidence and composure while your little one began to be sick with 10 minutes notice before an important meeting. Thankfully, the person I was speaking to was none the wiser and NEVER have I been more thankful for the mute button! By the end of the call, my daughter had fallen asleep in my lap. I hung up the phone and cried because sitting there staring at Claire, I had no idea how I would make it through more of these scenarios.
The next day my meetings happened to fall during my daughter’s nap and I was so relieved, although the client I was working with sounded frazzled. I thought I had somehow annoyed her until I heard it. Her daughter began to belt out her favorite songs from the Frozen soundtrack. I heard a good portion of “Let it Go,” before the client was able to mute her line. She later began apologizing profusely and so I shared with her my nightmare from the day before. We both took a big sigh and she began to get choked up as she was describing the same level of uncertainty that I was feeling. I realized we both felt gratitude for knowing that we are all in this together. One of my favorite thinkers Brene Brown put it best when she said, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
I heard a psychologist recently on a newscast speaking about Corona Virus and the anxiety it has been bringing specifically to women. Her one piece of advice was to talk about it so that you never worry alone. So as we move through the unknown of the days and months to come and you take on the new challenges that come from doing it all without the resources you need, please remember you are INCREDIBLE MOTHERS. I challenge you to be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace during this chaos. You are setting an example for your little ones that will guide them during future times of uncertainty and hardship. You, my friend, are stronger than you know. Share that strength with the all of the mamas around you and let’s create a community where we remind each other that we are not alone.