I saw the metal sign above when I visited the mecca otherwise known as The Silos in Waco. I instantly knew it belonged in my daughter’s bedroom. It’s a message I share with her often as she’s already, at the tender age of nine, too aware that the world is not all sunshine and rainbows. Her sensitive, anxious and observant little mind is already ingesting the energy that surrounds her. While we have different personalities, we share that trait.
But lately I’ve applied that phrase to myself as well. After eight weeks in quarantine homeschooling, stressed, and physically cut off from my friends, well… life is tough, my darlings.
I’m Worried About the Mothers
This is hard all around. The amount of stress we carry from the moment we wake to the moment we pretend to go to sleep each night (anyone else not sleeping???) is astronomical. We are – every single one of us – worried about our futures, our jobs, our health, our children, our society, our loved ones, and our neighbors. We are facing a daily open ended tunnel and while, occasionally, we see light through the cracks it’s been pretty dark. So I acknowledge that no one is immune, without irony for my choice of words, to being affected by the very real COVID-19 crisis.
I worry, every day, about the households with abusive members who are now stuck together or unemployed. I worry, every day, about the children whose meals used to come from the school. I worry, every day, about those who struggled with addiction before they were left alone with their thoughts and cravings. And I worry, every day, about those who have the virus and fight to recover, and the amazing healthcare workers fighting with them.
But in my little circle I’m hearing from the mothers. Mothers who work, now from home, while simultaneously developing lesson plans for their children. Mothers who take conference calls while providing multiple snacks and more meals for constantly hungry and bored mouths. Mothers who haven’t gotten more than a few minutes of peace or escape in who only knows when. Mothers with special needs children who face incredible battles. The invisible load of motherhood was heavy before. Now? None of us can lift it.
But one day, when it’s safe, a new normal will approach us. And mothers will be expected to transition seamlessly into this new normal, grabbing their tired and confused children by the hands, and leading them to their adjusted schedules while wearing masks they cannot stand. Mothers will do that, because that is what we do. We will hug our babies and answer their questions and guide them into a new world. Mostly without missing a beat.
Years from now, when our kids are grown, and the house is eerily empty, we will collapse under the weight of today. Our moment of peace, the one we all long for, isn’t coming anytime soon. But when it does, it will surprise and scare us. We long for a minute of silence. When we finally get it, we won’t know how to manage it. This is nothing more than speculation, but I feel a major identity crisis coming on for many of us in about ten years.
Those are dark thoughts, yes? Sorry, it’s just where my head goes lately. But then, every now and then, I look back to what I thought I could manage eight weeks ago. I look back to what I adjusted to six weeks ago. I look back at the unsustainable life that I’ve sustained since March.
And I realize that resilience is more than just something I have to help my children develop. Resilience is not just keeping their heads above water.
Resilience is the choices I make to prioritize schoolwork over my job on Monday, then switch that on Tuesday to maintain balance. Resilience is the guilt I feel when I “lose it” over a seemingly minor offense, then apologize and explain that Mommy gets sad, too. Resilience is waking up after another restless, anxiety riddled night (because night is when all my squished down feelings rise to the surface) with a sigh at what I have to face, and facing it anyway.
Life is tough.
Our medical workers, grocery clerks, essential business runners, sanitation workers and delivery personnel are serious heroes. I had to wear a mask for three hours one day and it stifled me. I cannot fathom thirty hour shifts wearing that and more. I’m in awe of their strength and dedication.
I’m so incredibly grateful for the social workers and therapists continuing their sessions online so that my daughter does not feel abandoned, and so those recovering from the virus have someone with whom to discuss their trauma, and so the medical personnel do not get lost in the lives they are sacrificing to save others. The world is full of creative, resilient heroes.
There’s that word again.
Life is tough, my darling.
We are all of us transforming, without realizing it. Some of us have expanded our viewpoints, educated ourselves, reached out and helped others. Some of us have dug down and managed to balance work life with homeschool life. Some of us continued to workout. Some of us realized that they didn’t have the mental or physical capacity for that and had the grace to let it go. Some of us feel like we are lost and all alone. I wager most of us feel that way at least once a day. Most of us go through a gambit of emotions in a week. I blink and change feelings fifteen times.
Life is changing, but so are you. The you of today is not the same “pre-quarantine” you. This new you is resilient. Capable. Strong. Even in the face of darkness, even if you think you are screwing up, you are getting up and going again. You are facing every day because there is no choice. It’s not exactly a hopeful message, but it’s an accurate one.
You are capable of more than you realize, and you will still have that level of capacity when our new normal resumes. Whatever it looks like, you will still be able to face it, even if you do so with hunched shoulders and red eyes every now and again.
Don’t measure your strength in leaps and bounds. It’s inches. Millimeters. Resilience isn’t about loving the situation you are in. Resilience is about facing it. And you are resilient AF.
Life is tough, my darlings.
Life is changing.
But so are you.