Congratulations, moms of the world! It’s now 2020, which means you’re now a Pandemic Mom. That means you have to do literally EVERYTHING! Oh, and if you don’t do it correctly, you’re either going to cause your child to fail school, lose your job, lose your mind, get you and your whole family sick, or all of the above. Good luck!
That’s exactly what you’re thinking, right?
From personal experience, becoming a Pandemic Mom has stirred up a lot more guilt and anxiety than I was anticipating to happen. COVID-19 hasn’t just made an entire planet sick, it’s driven some mothers to their edge. All-day long I talk to and read about moms who are being asked to do it all, and do it all perfectly without any preparation at all. Societally, we think we should be able to rise to the occasion and easily makes lemonade out of these crappy lemons. If you think I’m kidding about societal pressure on moms during the pandemic, check out this article from the New York Times. It is truly eye-opening what some moms are juggling during this time.
I know Shakespeare wrote King Lear in quarantine and Issac Newton discovered the laws of motion in quarantine, but I got a little secret for you…
They were both childless men!
In case you’re not sure, you are NOT a childless man!
Of COURSE they had the time to do that!! You, on the other hand, are fighting tooth and nail to raise a human who isn’t going to be scarred by this life experience, and you’re trying to come out unscathed too! Sorry, but unless you really are a freak of nature (and congratulations if you are) then King Lear and the Laws of Motion kind of goals can wait for another pandemic.
You are just trying to keep your family alive, and that’s OK!
After many nights of going to bed defeated, I had to do some soul searching as to why being a mom is so much harder now than it was before. That’s when I realized that this kind of mothering is NOT normal! There are things that regular moms got to do that Pandemic Moms don’t get, and I don’t think we realize how hard those things weigh on us.
With knowledge comes the power of change. I am hoping with sharing my thoughts on why mothering during a pandemic is so hard that we will begin to have some grace with ourselves in this season.
Pandemic Moms don’t get breaks
Pre-COVID, I had a really nice Saturday morning routine.
- Wake up and play with my son
- Go to therapy (gasp! I’m a Christian and go to therapy!)
- Go grocery shopping, and occasionally enjoy a cup of some super basic Starbucks beverage while strolling the aisles of Aldi
- Come home refreshed and prepared for a fun weekend with my family.
I know it’s a pretty privileged Saturday routine. Many people don’t have the means to seek counseling, or buy some Starbucks, or even buy groceries. Surely being stripped of those simple things shouldn’t rattle me THAT much.
Well, it’s messed me up pretty good.
I still do our Dystopian-Esque grocery shopping, but I can’t enjoy my frothy coffee with it. Unfortunately, we had to bring my therapy appointments to a halt. Worse than any of those, I come home from running errands feeling drained and depressed.
Why do these minor changes in my Saturday morning mess me up so much? Because that simple Saturday morning was my only me-time I had all week!
Maybe you had a special routine of yours get completely ruined. Did your trips to the gym come to a halt? Perhaps your mom group or Bible study had to cease? Were your child’s weekly play dates, or trips to the park, or quiet evenings alone canceled?
Give me a break!
You probably didn’t realize how vital those breaks were to you until they were gone. Now you’re left to find new ways to give yourself a break when all of your usual go-to’s are gone. That is NOT a simple task to do! It probably took months, or maybe even years to create a great routine, now you have to change it all at the drop of a hat.
If you’re feeling like you’re about to break without your breaks, don’t hold it against yourself. Instead, get creative with working in a little you-time in your day. I think you’ll be surprised how even a 5-10 minute break can refresh you and prepare you for the rest of the day!
If you need some help with coming up with quick and easy self-care, check out my post, “5 Minute Self Care For The Christian Woman.”
Pandemic Moms are told to be Supermom without being given the Super-Tools
Some of you became Homeschool Mom’s overnight. My son is a baby, so lucky me! But my friends who barely passed a math class are being asked to teach their child more math than they know, along with every other subject, and master the multiple technology platforms that go along with them. You’re no longer mom, you’re their teacher as well! Don’t forget all the other tasks moms have to do too!
I hope after you read that paragraph that you realize that’s a lot of pressure for one person to handle.
Some of you are trying to be successful business women while also being the master of sensory bins for your wild toddlers. You might be trying to raise teenagers who are missing out on precious memories, while also looking to replace your furloughed income.
These pressures, my friend, are not normal. Normal humans will not be able to handle these things well. So do yourself a favor and ditch the Supermom mentality.
If you’re just Regular-mom, then that’s still super!
Supermom may have been really strong, but she also had a lot of tools that made her better. I’m sure if Supermom had kids during this delightful pandemic, she’d probably lasso her children with the Lasso of truth to find out who ate the last of the secret Oreos. If she wanted to go somewhere special, she’d probably load her family in the invisible jet and check out better places than the house.
You’re trying to do Superwoman’s job without Superwoman’s powers or tools. So please, don’t hold yourself to Supermom standards when you are just Regularmom. Regularmom can still do a really great job through all of this!
Regular-mom might need to utilize the TV to get the kids out of her hair so she can make breakfast, and that’s ok! She might need to use the tool of bribery to get her stubborn teenager to finish their schoolwork. Regular-mom might have to take the kids on a walk every 25 minutes (if she’s able to) just to break up the day.
Guess what….those are tools too! They may not be “super,” but a tool is a tool!
In Pandemic standards, regular tools will be just as effective as Super-tools. So don’t feel bad for just being regular.
Pandemic Moms don’t have the answers (and neither does anyone else)
If your kids are old enough to somewhat understand what’s happening, then they’re probably coming to you with their questions. I am lucky that my son is little, so for him this is just a fun time where both of his parents are always home! But for some of you, your kids have hard questions, and you have zero answers.
When we don’t have the answers, we feel powerless. When we feel powerless, our family environment can become chaotic. Nobody thrives in chaos.
Even though my son is too little to comprehend what is happening in the world, I believe he still knows something is different. Tantrums have been at an all-time high! Just like how most of you are probably at your wits end with your kid’s behavior, so am I. I’ve talked to countless moms who have said their children are more clingy, defiant, whiny, and stubborn than they have ever been.
All of those things are your kids responses to change. Kids do these things when they feel out of control. When you really think about it, adults do all of those same things when they feel out of control.
Watching the news or falling down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole of the internet doesn’t help either! If you’re anything like me, the information overload on the internet and the tv has been enough to send me over the edge! Your kids are aware of the information overload too, but they don’t contain the ability to understand the information yet. Therefore, they divert to you for comfort and clarification.
It’s ok to not have the answers
Unfortunately, we may not be able to make it all make sense to our kids, but we can be there for them. It’s ok to tell your kids that you don’t know the answers! Just tell them what you do know. Comfort them and let them know that even though you don’t know it all, you’re going to be there for them and protect them no matter what.
At the end of the day, your kids just want their mom. If they don’t have the answers, but they have their mom, then they’ll be fine. Take solace in knowing that comfort and peace far outweighs knowledge in the household. If you know everything, but do not have peace, your knowledge won’t matter. If you know just a little, but have peace in your house, things will operate successfully. Answers will come eventually, so focus on creating peace.
Pandemic Moms don’t like being Pandemic Moms
The first thing we need to all do in this Pandemic Mom season is to give ourselves permission to say one sentence (and perhaps yell it into an empty forest or an empty street for cinematic effect):
Some people are really wanting you to take moldy lemons and make gourmet lemonade out of them during this time, but maybe it’s better we just throw the lemons away and opt for Chick Fil A lemonade instead. It’s ok to dislike this season! It’s perfectly ok to not enjoy motherhood right now!
You are NOT a bad mom for not liking being a mom right now!
If you’re missing your usual comforts in life, such as trips to Target or Starbucks, then that’s ok! You deserve to give yourself permission to mourn those things. You are NOT a spoiled brat for wanting a small scrap of your previous normal! In fact, you’re a perfectly functioning human for longing for those things. If wearing a face mask to the store doesn’t make you as Dystopian-bougie feeling as you were hoping, then that simply means you’re a normal person. Do NOT put more weight on your feelings than they deserve!
Your feelings suck, which means they’re moldy lemons that belong in the trash!
Pandemic Moms feel guilty
This particular mom guilt only wants to bury you in your Supermom shame, when you need to bury it in its Supermom-is-impossible mentality.
If Pandemic Mom Guilt is making you feel like crap for letting your kids watch more TV than usual, tell it to shut up! When that silly little voice is telling you that pizza delivery for the 3rd time that week is turning your kids into Jabba The Hut, tell it that this pizza tastes really good, along with VICTORY over guilt!
There are practical steps to conquering this guilt. For example, you may need to quit comparing yourself to some other Pandemic moms who seem to be crushing it on social media. If you have a conversation with them, you’ll probably discover that they’re just as stressed as you are!
You might need to give yourself permission to chill out. If pizza delivery is going to be the only thing that salvages a rough day, then don’t feel bad for caving into the pizza pressure! Are you feeling guilty for choosing dishes over playing with your kids? Then ditch the dishes for later and play!
Guilt only goes away when we acknowledge that it is a deceptive lie from Satan. Guilt wants to make you feel like you suck, when in fact you’re pretty awesome! When the world is feeling chaotic right now, it’s ok to let your household standards be more chill than usual.
For more tips on overcoming mom guilt, check out my post. “5 Tips for Overcoming Mom Guilt“
Pandemic Moms are amazing!
“Amazing” is probably the LAST word you’d call yourself right now, right?
You’re probably not feeling amazing for letting your kids eat exactly 1,425 snacks today. I’m sure you don’t feel amazing for cracking the homeschooling whip all day long. But when you put all of this in perspective and realize you are cultivating semi-normalcy in a totally abnormal circumstance, then that makes you absolutely AMAZING!
Sure, you’ve probably made some mistakes during this time, but keep in mind that nobody has been a Pandemic Mom before. You’re basically creating a new genre of human!
So cut yourself a break, Mama. You’re crushing it, even when you feel like all of this is crushing you. Enjoy that cup of coffee and those cookies you don’t need. You’re pioneering a new genre of parenting.
One day when this is all over, I’m sure textbooks will write about Pandemic Moms. I hope they say something like this:
“The Pandemic Mom was asked to be mom, wife, employee, teacher, provider, comforter, chef, housekeeper, epidemiologist, political expert, spiritual guru, and many other titles overnight. These moms stepped up to this astronomical calling. Pandemic Moms are true heroes.”