Last week I had the perfect summary of life for a working mom during COVID. Last Wednesday, was a rarity – I had the day off while kids and husband had to work. In pre-COVID days this was the holy grail, a day that I could spend getting a massage, binging watching something amazingly stupid on Netflix, reading, go to a movie or even just cleaning without someone messing it back up in 5 minutes.
But in this time of COVID, it means that I don’t have work so I get to spend the day in my house which also serves as a classroom and 2 offices. Mine was closed for the day and I did a fairly good job of not actually working, which meant that on this day I could spend my time as a full-time at home mom.
Which meant that the day really starts the night before when I get snacks and workspaces ready for tomorrow and update the board with the information for the day. Did I mention the moment I asked my child to get her backpack, told her where it was, was told by the whole house it was missing and walked over to the exact spot I had told her to look and grabbed the damn backpack. Luckily, on this day instead of just following our regular routine, I got to help my youngest with her first day back to school in person since March.
I will admit it did feel nice to not have to squeeze drop off between meetings. And so, at 8:40 I got in my car, drove her to school, kissed her and her mask good bye and started on my way for 4 hours that were all mine.
You may be thinking what a gift this is, how amazing 4 kidless hours would be, but in this COVID time my day off is a day as stay at home mom. Luckily, this was one of the weeks my husband was working from home so I did have some freedom.
I started by driving to Trader Joes, but alas the line was already too long to get in everything I needed to get in by 11. So I started by doing returns to Target (phew, they’ve been in the car for weeks), along with 2 pickups and then a quick whirl around to get the things I realized we were missing just this morning. At this point I had 15 minutes before the store I wanted to go to would be open. So, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some essentials, thinking this could delay my Costco trip until the weekend.
All checked out of the grocery store, now there were 3 minutes until the store opened. This was my stop – I wanted some outdoor décor to cheer myself up, something new to look at if I can’t go anywhere. I was clearly not the only mom who wanted to go to some combination of TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory and Home Sense, because just before 10 am there were small lines waiting for the doors to open at each one. I hit all 3 in 20 minutes -finding what I wanted at my last stop.
Back in my car at 10:20 I headed to the mall to make a return (also sitting for weeks) and hoping to stop at a department store that was closing to take a spin through the sales. The good news was I got my return done, but when I got to the second store there were 22 minutes before it would open so I headed home.
At home I put the groceries away, told my oldest to get shoes one and headed to her school for instrument pick up. The beauty and the torture of this time is all the wonderful quality and quantity time I get to spend with my kids. Today with just one in the car and a bunch of downtime while we waited meant we got to talk, be silly and sing along to some Kidz Bop.
We got home from instrument pick up with an hour before I had to get back in the car again. So I headed up to the guest room which is overrun by half completed “putting away.” Too many things that just don’t quite belong. If I can get it under control maybe someone in the house can use it as the office it’s intended to be, maybe I won’t have to always share my dining room and my office.
After an hour of cleaning I headed back out to pick up my youngest from her first in person day. And then swung by a local woman’s house to pick up the communicator mask so my daughter can do in-person speech lessons. Once we return the oldest finishes school work, the youngest has a meltdown because wearing a mask all day, worrying about a deadly pandemic and being away from your parents for the first time in 9 months is stressful.
In the middle I try to finish (well almost) the guest room/office and then the working mommy guilt kicks in. I have a plan clearly spelled out – they have work, actually I even bought more work for them, plus chores to keep them busy until they head to the neighbors for a few hours to plan/chill/ let me work. But we have 40 minutes that I can spend either cleaning up or hanging with my girls. Since it’s pouring out that 40 minutes is spent watching sappy Hallmark TV. I get less done but it soothes my working mommy guilt.
Then off they go and off I go in the car again to a few big box stores to look for a new fridge – because the idea of bringing my children into a big box store is stressful and daunting – the things to touch, the crowds - I just can’t.
While my dinner plans were nixed because somehow the rain didn’t quite end the last outdoor practice the way I thought it would, so it’s insta-dinner tonight with plans for real dinner tomorrow. Luckily my husband did the driving and drop offs so I could finish putting away my kids winter clothes.
This blow by blow of my day off might seem tedious but I’m hoping that other mothers see themselves and give themselves a break – it’s all of us, we are all running ragged with piles of pandemic anxiety on top. We are all just hoping for one day to ourselves and when we get it we do all the other things we never get to because life gets in the way.
That day I just described – I got about half of what I planned done, there were interruptions and delays along the way – there always are. My day off did feel like a day off, my kids got more than 50% of my attention, I didn’t do instrument pick up or kid pick up while on a conference call.
For 9 months us moms have made it work – we have made remote learning fun or tolerable, we have had movie marathons and puzzles and hikes. We have inoculated our co-workers from annoyance at interruptions – be they snack time, math questions, spelling help or general consultation. For 9 months we have held together our sanity and our children’s well being with duct tape and spit.
And we will continue to do so but it shouldn’t be like this, we shouldn’t be running on all cylinders all the time. We will continue to find the joy in the small things, push for safe new adventures and create new traditions in the face of adversity. But we are also tired and overwhelmed.
When this is over we should call for a mom holiday. An entire week where we can lock ourselves in our rooms, with plenty of wine and a boat load books and a long list of binge worthy Netflix shows. We get time to just sit and process what we have done over this last year.
And until that time let me tell you, my fellow mom this – you are AMAZING, a ROCKSTAR. And I know it doesn’t feel like it, I certainly don’t feel like it, but it’s true and years from now your children will remember the cheesy Hallmark shows, the puzzles, the hikes, not the times the zoom didn’t work or the crazy schedules.