When people ask me how I’m doing in quarantine, I tell them I can’t complain. And that’s the absolute truth. From the South Florida sun to food in my fridge to my healthy hubby and kids, I have so very much to be grateful for. I’d venture to say you do, too.
But that doesn’t mean every day is peachy. Heck no. Personally, I find that the weekdays are the worst. Each weekday morning, I summon every ounce of willpower I have from every part of my body and use it to make distance learning fun and interesting for my 6-year-old, who is, at any given moment, throwing himself on the floor and whining about how boring I am. Meanwhile, I’m also fielding periodic interruptions from my 7-year-old, who insists that her math assignment “doesn’t make any sense” (it always does make sense, by the way, and that’s coming from a math-illiterate lawyer), or to announce to her brother and I that she’s not going to distract him from his school work … thereby distracting him from his schoolwork with that very announcement.
Once that titillating fun is over and “school” is dismissed, I climb onto my creaky desk stool to log on to my laptop and do some lawyering. Then at 5:30 PM, I stuff my face with cheese, crackers and Chardonnay in between chopping and sautéing dinner or, if it’s my husband’s turn to cook, I do the cheese-cracker-Chardonnay stuffing in front of an HGTV “Love It or List It” marathon. Sometimes I fold laundry in the quiet sanctuary of my bedroom as a treat to myself.
I mean, couldn’t you just swoon?
So yeah, when people ask me how I’m doing in quarantine, you know what else I tell them? I cry a little every day. Every. Single. Day. And you know what else? I’m not ashamed of it.
I cry when my kids don’t listen to me. I cry when I cook something delicious and those little buggers tell me it’s gross. I cry because I have writer’s block and have lost the book-writing momentum I had before this quarantine started. I cry because my business isn’t taking off as quickly as I would like it to. I cry because people keep dying. I cry because I’m touched by people who are beautiful and generous and are doing everything they can to make the world keep turning. I cry because, in general, I feel like I’m failing at everything.
Are you feeling that way too?
As moms, we tend to put such intense pressure on ourselves to always keep it “together.” But listen, Girlfriend, it’s absolutely OK to cry. Being upset with yourself for crying is kind of like berating yourself for having to pee. And yes, I agree that there’s a time and a place for everything. I don’t walk around blubbering all day and night without regard for my surroundings. I don’t fall to pieces in front of my kids at every turn.
But I don’t hold it in, either. When I need to release the tears, I give myself that release. I vent freely to my best friends and my husband. I don’t care what I sound like or how totally not “together” I seem. I need to get it out.
And so do you.
You must get out your frustration, disappointment and anger. Maybe you do that by giving yourself a good cry in the bathroom. Maybe you scream into your pillow or your husband’s chest. Maybe you give it up to God. Whatever you do, get it out. If you don’t, you’re only prolonging the inevitable. That emotion will find a way out. Trust me. And by then, it will have festered into a nasty, pus-filled abscess. Do yourself a solid and embrace the cry. It might look ugly for a hot minute but you’ll feel so much better after.
Remember that you are doing your very best. (Of course you are! You didn’t wake up today plotting all the ways you could be mediocre! Come on). You’re in completely uncharted territory. For the first time, all at the same time, you are a mom, wife, teacher, cook, cleaning lady and general fixer-of-all-situations – and probably also an employee or business owner. You don’t have to be perfect.
So the next time you leave breakfast cooking on the stove and then forget about it until it’s smoking, and run into the kitchen screaming obscenities only to realize your kid is on a Google Meet video conference at the kitchen table with her entire class, give yourself some grace if you burst into tears afterward. You’ll be stronger for it when this is all over.
We’re gonna be OK, girlfriend.
Nikki Oden is a native South Floridian, a happy wife and a mother of two. After leaving her career as a lawyer to become a SAHM and completely losing herself in motherhood, Nikki discovered a passion for liberating greatness in the woman inside every mom. She now coaches other moms and blogs about getting out of your motherhood rut at Your Ideal Mom Life. Follow Nikki on Instagram (www.instagram.com/nikkioden).