The mental load of Covid. A mom’s perspective.

Masked mom and daughters during covid

Today was the day that the mental burden of Covid outweighed the physical fear. 

They tell you that parenting is hard. It is. The infant stage, the toddler stage, the little kid stage and I presume the rest of the growing up stages too. Each one has their own challenges and similarly each one has their own joys. I’ll tell you right now the joys run laps around the challenges. 

But this year has had its own challenges – whether you’re a parent or not. But for you parents out there, I commend you. I commend you for choosing the right schooling option for your family. For making the difficult decision not to be with your extended family on Thanksgiving. For the 30+ hours of crafting you do each week. And for the many tantrums you have endured due to boredom. Good. Job. Mama. 

I commend you for all of the extra tasks you have taken on and for trying to make your little one’s childhood normal. Because it’s anything but. 

My two babies (ok they are 5 and 7 but they are still my babies) are in a hybrid model at school, going two days/week. Though far from a “normal” Kindergarten and 2nd grade experience, it’s the best we’re going to get right now. And for that, they are happy. My husband and I also both work full time. For so many of you moms and dads out there – you had to make the extremely difficult decision to step back from your careers. To take on a full-time role of parent. I can’t even imagine. To me, being a working mom is who I am. I love it. The ability to push myself to be smarter. To grow as a career woman. To challenge myself with difficult situations and tasks. 

But the other half of me is a pretty awesome mom. It’s ok to say that. It’s not gloating or boastful. It’s my number one job and the absolute best part of my life and I’m really proud of the mom I am. Being a career-mama is not always easy. Some days are easier than others, certainly. But at the end of the day I go to sleep satisfied with the person I am and know I give my kiddos the very best of me. 

Rewind about 8 days ago when little pieces of me started to dwindle away (metaphorically speaking of course). Like I said, me and hubs both work. My office environment is pretty safe from Covid since there’s not a lot of us and we’re all pretty spread out. My man’s job is quite the opposite. He is what we call, an “essential employee.” I’ve been pretty amazed that we’ve steered clear of Covid symptoms for 9 whole months. Pretty miraculous given the number of cases and his job. Well, my amazement has ceased. During a random Covid test at his job, he tested positive. False positives are so common though. So, he took the more accurate test and waited 24 hours. At that point we received a call from the Board of Health and we hear those words. Covid Positive. 

Well, the up-side is that he’s not sick. Like, at all. Not a single symptom for this very healthy hubby of mine.  So I guess we have that going for us. But regardless, we are quarantined for 10 days. Ten. No office. No in-person school. No outside life. 

Mom-mode kicks in and I pack his stuff and stick him in the basement. Ok, that sounds worse than it is. He’s got a comfy couch, a gigantic TV with Nintendo Switch, Hallmark Christmas movies (how does he not love these?!) snacks and a stocked beer fridge. Looks like Dad hit the lottery. 

Then it hits me. I’m officially in single-mom mode. Stay-at-home, working, single mom, right before Christmas mode. Yea. 

It took a moment to sink in, but when it did I think I went into auto-pilot. The amount of things that needed to be done seemed unattainable. But I threw on my “girl power” hat (again metaphorically) and kicked it into high gear. Kindergarten zoom calls. Crafting. Business meeting calls that required me to be put together. Meals. Cleaning. Laundry. Keeping the basement guy nourished. Grocery shopping (online of course). 2nd grade math. All with a Lysol wipe in hand. My house remained at about 59 degrees since the Dr told me Covid could blow through forced air vents. You can imagine my disgust as I lay down at night staring at the vents just imagining little Covid balls blowing through.  It was cold. It was stressful. But boy was it clean. 

All of this, two weeks before Christmas. So each night after the kids went to bed I stayed up with my Excel sheet of Christmas gifts and shopped online so I could be officially done. They would come in a few days later and I would wrap them. Then I would go to bed and imagine the Covid balls again. 

Oh and then the next morning (every morning really) I would wake up, and come downstairs and as the kids demanded avocado toast with cinnamon foam milk for breakfast I would empty the dishwasher while making coffee. All while my helpless husband stood at the top of the stairs watching. Helpless. It certainly wasn’t his fault in any way. But it didn’t make it easier. 

Fast forward to day 7 and I legit lost my mind. The kids needing me at the same time. My job needing me to… actually do my job. The cleaning. The cooking. The shopping. It was making me physically sick. Heart palpitations. Headaches. Dizziness. And yes, I too got tested and was negative. You can imagine awaiting those results and not being able to hug your kids for 3 days. That actually may have been the worst part of this whole thing. 

So today, on day 8, I made a decision. I opened up the windows (even though it was 30 degrees out). Bleached everything I could. I handed my husband a freshly cleaned mask. And I invited him upstairs. I needed him more than ever. I needed him to be part of our family again and to take some of the burden off of me. It’s the simple things like snow-blowing the driveway, taking out the trash, vacuuming and cleaning out the pellet stove. Or simply just talking to the kids while I take a much needed shower. Sure the big stuff like school, work, food and cleaning is still on me. But that’s ok. 

The physical aspect of Covid is no-joke for many. It’s a bad bad virus that really needs to go. But for our family, the mental aspect was almost too much to bear. But we got through it just like we get through every situation. Together. 

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