A Mother’s Day experience during a global pandemic…
I’ve chosen to hold space for myself this time around.
Mother’s Day 5.10.2020
I woke up this Mother’s day to the sound of my toddler opening the door to his bedroom… This was day 3 of him climbing out of his crib. It was 6:37am. I got out of my bed, slightly hazy from the mediocre sleep I just had, to meet him in the hall. He had his blanket, his lovie and a teddy bear bundled tight in his arms. The day officially began in that moment and I was already annoyed.
The cookie cutter image of Mother’s Day; flowers, cards, time alone, relaxing, breakfast in bed… That shit doesn’t exist. At least I’ve never really experienced it since becoming a mom. I’ve worked for 2 of my 3 proclaimed days, and while the first was the easiest because my son was still an infant, it wasn’t what I had expected this “special” new holiday to be. I thought maybe this time around would be different… Then throw in the covid-19 pandemic…
As I sat on the couch and observed this holiday, there were 3 major things I picked up on:
- My emotional state: It felt uneasy. A little “all over the place”. I was happy and laughing, but could cry at the drop of a hat, for no apparent reason. Epic self-judgement of my parenting, my wife-ing and my “human-ing”…
- The emptiness of my husband. He is physically there, but seemingly hollow inside.
- The misbehavior of my son. Wild & aggressive reactions, crabby and relatively asshole-like responses and complete un-predicability.
Movement is medicine for me, so I worked out while listening to my son not follow rules. I surfed the internet for all the things I “should buy” or “want to have” to numb the fact that my kid pulled his aunt’s hair and then refused to say “sorry”. I posted pictures of my son and I on instagram for the expected “thanks for making me a mom” posts. I made myself breakfast and sat alone at the table, followed by annoyance for WHAT I ate for breakfast…
“Keep it together, Holly”. “You’re just tired”. “Everyone is mentally and physically exhausted…doing their best”. “Be a good daughter today”. “Don’t turn your problems in to their problems”. “You’re too hard on your husband”. “Why are you so fucking crazy?!”. “Are my meds not working anymore?”. “Is this a re-surfacing of my PPD?”. “Why can’t I just have a normal fucking brain”?!?!?
As I zipped up my bag to leave my moms house, I looked up at her and just started crying. She asked what was wrong and I embarrassingly admitted, “I woke up today and didn’t want to be a mom. I know this is a normal thing for most parents, but I feel extremely guilty for even saying that”. Immediately, I felt embarrassed. My crazy true colors have been exposed and now I’m the problem. The person who I used to roll my eyes at. My mom’s response, as I looked up from my bag with tears trailing off of my cheeks on to the floor, “oh sweetheart, thats really normal. Everyone has felt that way. Especially when their child isn’t listening or following rules.” My husband walked back in and I wiped my face, shrugged my shoulders and said “mom-guilt” and that was that.
The truth is I KNOW THIS, but why does it feel so epic right now? Well, because the basic struggles of raising a kid, running a household, working a job, paying the bills, being a good spouse, friend, family member has been flipped on their boring, priviledged, head.
Just the Friday before, I ran the hardest 2.23 miles ever. I’m a fitness pro and run races regularly, but even my saddened heavy chest could wash those capabilities away in an instant. I was running for a young man, on what would’ve been his birthday, whose life was taken by blatant hatred and bias, on camera, 73 days prior. It was just the evening before that his murderers were arrested. Plus it was two days out from Mother’s Day… His poor mother. Oh My God, his poor mother.
I turn on the news to watch death tolls rise adjacent to reports and images of people wielding assault riffles on the steps of their state capitols whining about not being able to get their hair cut. I constantly see videos and read posts full of blatant racism and mistreatment of non-white HUMAN BEINGS, more specifically our African American communities. I see a line every Sunday, 3 city blocks long, out of the church near my home, of people hoping they got there early enough to get food and basic needs items. All because they have yet to receive enough government aid to support their families and pay their basic living expenses.
Parenting is hard. Mothering IS FUCKING HARD. No wonder it feels even harder these days. It’s lonely, even though you know there is a magnitude of individuals who are in your shoes. Due to the pandemic my husband has suddenly become a “stay at home dad” and my son has decided to go through his “terrible two’s” later than expected. No wonder my husband seems empty and tired. I am working/training from home on camera. Which means he has to get up and get our kid out of the house before I begin. (small apt city life…). And in his own words “I am suddenly a stay at home dad, who can’t stay home, with a kid who hates me”.
I want to normalize all of this. First off, what we are ALL going through in this country is not normal. We have never been through a pandemic before. We have never been locked inside our homes. None-the-less with our partners, roommates or children without choice in the matter. And the reality for some is far worse than mine. So yeah, tensions are high, we are all different and therefore react different. Because your current state doesn’t read the same as someone else’s on social media doesn’t mean you’re “not doing well”. It means YOU are managing to the best YOU can. For me, it’s coming to the surface with my “mothering”. I am getting a front row view of shit hitting the fan and the realization that I don’t know how to stop that “shit show” is what’s making me spiral. I can see the stress oozing out of peoples pores. It’s a lot.
The release of expectation is key here. I need to release the expectation that my child will grow, develop and communicate on the schedule & within the parameters that all the books say. It’s impossible and quite an unfair expectation of a 2.5yr old. I also need to remember that this is different for him too. He was used to his parents coming and going, seeing a nanny, playing on playgrounds…In addition to that we took away his pacifier and potty trained him. That’s A LOT of change.
I need to release the expectations that the news cycle is going to suddenly change in the blink of an eye. I cannot control this pandemic and the people acting out during it. What I can control is myself and my actions. I am choosing my news sources carefully and supporting organizations and business that I believe in. Organizations I know are fighting to make a difference in someones life. I am choosing to use my voice to speak my opinions in a kind way and put action behind those words. Lastly, I am choosing to keep my head clear and steady of the noise so I can educate and teach my son to behave with care, empathy and grace. After all, he is going to be a part of the other side of this story.
I need to release the expectation that “Mother’s Day” will ever be full of butterflies and rainbows. Especially with young children. Especially when you don’t have a husband that has mind reading capabilities. I have high expectations for myself and it spills on to my partner in a lot of unfair ways.
This is all a deep form of cognitive work. Because of this lockdown, the regular distraction we use to push things aside really don’t exist. It’s a major reflection on the stuff we are starting to see, learning to accept and can possibly begin to heal. I am aware that this scenario is a privileged one. I wake up everyday with the understanding that I am already in possession of something that someone else wishes for. And on mother’s day this doesn’t go unnoticed for me. I love my son. I am beyond grateful that he “made me a mama” as my Instagram post stated. He is the greatest thing on the planet, but sometimes he can be a real jerk, ya know? This is my experience and i’m hoping there is something in here we can all relate too.
Some days are good some days are bad. Some days we feel full of our power and others we are frozen in our fears and unable to move in any direction. My suggestion is to let someone in on your darkness. Let them sit in that dark space with you. They don’t need to turn on the light for you, they just need to remind you that you are able to do that yourself. Hang in there, Ma. You’re doing ok. We’re gonna make it out of this.
*I would just like to add, that this was written on Mothers Day, while my child ate cheese and crackers sitting on top of our coffee table, watching his 3rd episode of Blaze and The Monster Machines while my husband was asleep on the couch. ;).