covid-19

Reflecting on a year of COVID-19 – a working mother’s perspective.

Wearing a mask while stocking donated books.

When I left my office on March 13th, 2020, I had no idea I would be working from home for well over a year (and counting; it’s April 2021). My son went to his daycare for a couple of days the following week before my husband and I decided to pull him – we couldn’t in good conscience let him be in daycare while we were both working from home with cases and deaths on the rise and all the unknown surrounding COVID-19.

I’ve never felt cut out to be a full-time mom – it’s hard work. I enjoy my career, having a quiet office space, and having lunch with co-workers I consider friends. Working for home was a most unenjoyable experience with a child at home – there is only so much a 4 year-old can do on his own for any substantial amount of time. My husband and I had constant interruptions to help fix something, look for something, wipe something – you get it. It was unending. I don’t have any co-workers with young children, so there were numerous times where I didn’t feel understood or well supported, and that further frustrated me amidst everything else. For the most part, my husband and I could coordinate meetings so they didn’t overlap and one of us could be readily available to help our son, but this wasn’t always achievable.

COVID-19, lockdowns, media, and many other things caused a lot of stress. But as far as work stress goes, I think I created a lot of that for myself. I had unrealistic expectations for myself and when I didn’t reach those high expectations, I felt like I was letting people down. I eventually recognized that this pressure was self-inflicted and that I didn’t have to produce like I did prepandemic. And once I realized this, work was more manageable. Self-compassion went a long way.

We always felt very fortunate to both be employed, as we knew many people were losing their jobs due to business restrictions. We tried to keep things in perspective, but we felt stuck in some Groundhog Day joke. Meanwhile, we were constantly told to enjoy this extra time with our son, which we did, but not necessarily in the moment. The commute time I regained was the biggest perk, as was making lunches with my husband and eating with family. We were also lucky to be home for the final year of our dog’s life – a blessing in disguise. 

We eventually sent our son back to daycare, and it was a breath of fresh air for us all. I felt like a productive employee again and it felt good. And he needed interaction with peers and a reliable schedule from his teachers (something we were unable to provide him). I often wondered if we made the right decision sending him back (I still do). It’s a risk, but I think it’s a relatively safe one for him (and us). I’m so thankful that he missed last year’s cut-off for kindergarten – I don’t want his first year old school to be remote. I am hoping that the 2021-2022 school year will be normal, but only time will tell.

I miss so much prior to the pandemic, but I see things slowly improving and I am hopeful. I gotta be. My son still often asks when the coronavirus will be over, and I have stopped telling him I don’t know and have started saying, “soon, I think.” I wonder what he will remember from this time when he’s older. I hope he doesn’t remember missing his friends, or the short tempers his parents hard while on the clock. I hope he remembers spending extra time outdoors with his parents, making pizza in the back yard, and being excited to pick superhero masks to coordinate with his outfits.

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