Six months. We've been experiencing pandemic life for six months now. Hard to believe isn't it? And this past week many kids around the country returned to school, albeit virtually. The mental burden for moms is at an all time high. Trying to juggle google classroom and zoom log ins, coordinating pods or childcare, and trying to meet the emotional needs of their children (many of whom are struggling right now), work, spouse/partner, etc, etc, mom stress is at an all time high. Mothers are sad for their kids who are isolated at home or going in person to school with social distancing restrictions, or mourning the college experience their child isn't having. It's not what we want for our children and it's perfectly normal to be frustrated and saddened by the situation we are in.
Without an end in sight most moms I speak with are feeling helpless, defeated, and worried. This is like a nightmare marathon where at every mile marker we don't know what lies ahead on the course and we have no idea where the finish line is. You can't train for that kind of a race, right? Wrong! Moms - you have been training for this marathon all along you just didn't know it.
Remember back before you had children? You didn't know what your journey to parenthood was going to be (and maybe you still don't). Maybe you had fertility issues, maybe you had a miscarriage, maybe your pregnancy and delivery didn't go as expected. Perhaps your child had unforeseen medical issues or had to stay in the NICU. All scary stuff that you couldn't plan for. But somehow you adapted and got through it.
Or perhaps your older child struggled with something in school - learning or behavioral challenges that you never saw coming. But despite the fear of the unknown, you adapted and helped your child get needed resources and are getting through it. It's still hard and exhausting but you are managing.
Perhaps you had a stressful job situation or an unexpected job loss, marriage difficulties, loss of a friend or family member, acute or chronic health issues, the list goes on and on. Think back on the most challenging times in your life. How were you feeling at the time? In those moments you probably felt fearful, sad, angry, or helpless. But somehow you managed to survive the struggle. It was super hard but you pivoted and adjusted and adapted. You made difficult decisions you never imagined you would have to make. But you managed to make it to the next mile marker. You may have stopped to walk, you may have had to refuel, but you kept going forward despite not knowing what was ahead.
Being a parent in this pandemic is extremely challenging. We are worried, exhausted, isolated, and frustrated. We don't know what lies ahead in the race and that's scary. But we need to pay attention to ourselves and refuel, rehydrate, and slow down in order to pace ourselves. Focus on what you can control - get that exercise, eat well, adjust family routines, take some time for yourself, get out for a walk, let go of some of the pressure you are putting on yourself (especially as school starts up). There are going to be days when you feel like you are running up the steepest hill in a torrential downpour and you want to quit. But you won't. Why? Because you are a mom. And moms are guaranteed to finish the race.