A Mother's Lament
It is Day 427 of pandemic life. In those 427 days, my children have attended seven days of school. I have attended zero days of campus-based work. I have spent 48 hours away from them. 418 days of forced, full-time togetherness. 418 days of spontaneous statements of "I love you" and "I hate you." We keep thinking we are in Mile 24 of this marathon, and then the calendar and the days and the exhaustion keep yawning ahead and we realize that, actually, we are still at Mile 15. These have been the strangest, most exhausting 427 days of my life. And this is my lament.
I am tired.
I am tired of nagging children About practicing piano
About logging onto school
About brushing their teeth
About going to taekwondo
About observing a bedtime
About waking up
About taking baths
About completing chores
I am tired of feeding children.
I am tired of children.
I am tired of children whining about food, about different food, delicious food, home-cooked food, store-bought food, not enough food, the wrong food, any food.
I am tired of waffles and cereal and Skyline and sushi and yogurt and raspberries and whatever it is I've cooked that has been rejected.
I am tired of monitoring screens.
I am tired of Roblox and Minecraft and Among Us and all the stories of worlds I have no interest in.
I am tired of the tears over lost animals that don’t even exist beyond the fiberoptic wires and cloud signals, of lost games and not enough coins and mean friends and glitches.
I am tired of being woken up, at night and in the morning, by hungry children, thirsty children, hot children, scared children—and their arms and legs and heads, their fits and turns, their snuggles.
I am tired of being followed, room-to-room including the bathroom, of always having not-so-little people at my ankles and shoulders and side, of bellows from downstairs when I’ve slipped upstairs unnoticed.
I am tired.
I am tired of wrestling.
I am tired of watching impromptu dance performances.
I am tired of board games.
I am tired of boredom.
I am tired of baking and the mess that follows.
I am tired of finding movies and shows that everyone will watch.
I am tired of YouTubers.
I am tired of siblings fighting, of meting out consequences, of comforting injured limbs and spirits and hearts.
I am tired.
I am tired of my house, my yard, my city.
I am tired of my laundry.
I am tired of the mess.
I am tired of being left at home while others go to offices and jobs and life beyond.
I am tired of my yoga pants.
I am tired of Zoom.
I am tired of my little coral-colored home office and the mess on its desk, a mix of work scribbles and kids’ writing and OT supplies and mail.
I am tired of interruptions.
I am tired of sitting between work and parenting, of doing neither because both are too pressing.
I am tired of divided attention.
I am tired of feeling inadequate at every task before me.
I am tired of this over-stimulated languishing.
I am tired of being alone.
I am tired of always being with my family.
I am tired of the past 427 days, and the 100-plus days to come.
I am tired of a life on pause, of shouldering the weight of a family’s pandemic life.
I am tired of waiting for vaccines, of staying abreast of the science and the politics, of worrying about COVID symptoms when it's really just allergies or a stomach bug.
I am tired of living in limbo.
I am tired of nagging anxiety.
I am tired of doing nothing well, but of being tasked with everything.
I am tired of being tired.
And oh, how I am tired of the guilt, guilt because I am also grateful:
Grateful for our health.
Grateful for security.
Grateful for time with my children, for getting to watch them grow, uninterrupted by school days and work travel and the bustle of our life before.
Grateful to have flexible employment.
Grateful for this pause in the hustle.
Grateful for a year without strep throat or the flu.
Grateful for our camper and our hot tub and our lake house and all the other creature comforts that make this shut-in-for-too-long life bearable.
Grateful that even on our worst days, our little family is overflowing with love.
Grateful that my children want to ramble on about their interests and friends, that they want to ramble on about their lives and questions, that they want to ramble on about what we should do next and what games they want to play, that they want ramble on to me and with me.
Grateful that my children want to snuggle, that they want to play with me, that they want to be with me, that they love me so much that it becomes suffocating—because that’s a lot of love, more love than I deserve.
Grateful for every hug, every meal together, every bedtime giggle fest, every pillow fight, every wrestling bout, every kitchen experiment, every art project, every road trip, every splash in the hot tub.
Grateful for Texas and Florida and Oklahoma and Alabama and Michigan and Wisconsin.
Grateful for sunshine.
Grateful for science.
Grateful for my therapist.
Grateful for Ted Lasso and Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place and Warrior and The Goldberg’s and The Mandalorian and Bridgerton and Cobra Kai and Gentefied and Never Have I Ever and Frayed and Fresh Off the Boat.
Grateful for talks about puberty hormones and growing bodies, about the books we’re reading, about the world and injustice, about the importance of friends and relationships.
Grateful that we get this time to dream together about what we want our life to look like in the after times, what we love and what we can leave.
Grateful for my children’s patience, my children’s affection, my children’s humor, my children’s wholeheartedness.
Grateful for my yoga pants and Zoom and my little coral-colored home office littered with work and schoolwork and life lived together.
Grateful for my children.
I am grateful, but oh, how
I am tired.
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While living in Mexico, I joked that speaking Spanish forced me to be far more Zen about life: Since I could only speak in the present tense, I was forced to just live in that present tense.
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