I was a pretty productive work at home mom until the pandemic.
Since I started this blog and talk show in 2010, I was very clear with my intentions. My Emmy award-winning local TV news career had been exciting and rewarding, but it was not going to fit into our lives once we had our son. We’d just moved to Atlanta, had no close family nearby – with his food allergies and asthma – we were hesitant to put him in child care full-time. I’d always worked from home or coffee shops or hosted events at co-working spaces, or done the bulk of my work while our son was in half-day preschool, then later full-day public school. I’d even burn both ends of the candle and squeeze in two to three more hours of work after he went to bed.
Early 2020 was moving & shaking. For bloggers and content creators, it was shaping up to be an amazing year with flourishing opportunities. For my part-time job, I wrote about expectations that brands would spend more on influencer marketing than ever before. I had big plans. Now that A.J. was settled into his magnet school, I drafted ideas for in-person events for moms during school hours and video shoots. I’d updated my resume and my LinkedIn page.
Then the pandemic changed all of that.
A.J.’s 10th birthday was the weekend everything shut down. We canceled his March 15th birthday celebration at a local video game event space. My Mom who was visiting from New York flew home early because she didn’t want to be caught here in case of a full lockdown.
My six to seven-hour days of distraction-free working home alone turned to become the manager of our son’s online learning when schools closed.
Then my husband brought a desktop computer home from work, planted himself in the living room, and started producing content for his job at a local TV station.
Then meals, and zoom calls and cleaning up after everyone else took my life.
Like many moms, I got lost. I got distracted. I got overwhelmed. I took on the weight of our son’s sadness and dismay about police & protests, while he experienced puberty.
Self-care no longer meant booking a massage or facial or catching up with my friends while our kids played.
All I could do (post-RONA) was sit in my car for an extra 20 minutes after I’d just finished a death-defying hazmat-wrapped grocery store run.
Sitting in that car was the only time I could actually hear my own thoughts in my head instead of everyone else’s. It was a tiny bit of peace & quiet. It was never really enough to fully recharge my battery, but it was all I could squeeze in.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not having a pity party. Things could be so much worse. We are all healthy and happy and enjoying this new house with plenty of space to spread out, two porches, and a huge yard.
But I want other moms to know it’s OK to be disappointed by all the plans that were canceled.
It’s OK to realize all the systems you had in place to help your family thrive blew up Mid-March and may not be back on track any time soon.
You’re not alone in your struggle to get more rest, be better at your job, adjust to teaching your children, feeling guilt about sending them back to school or anything in between.
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If you left your job in September 2020 to care for your children, spouse, parents, or loved ones, you’re not alone. One in four women in the U.S. made the same decision for a total of 865,000 who left the workforce according to a National Women’s Law Center.
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How many of those women will go back to work? What will the loss of income mean for their family’s stability? Will families go without food and medical care because women aren’t able to work or earn income?
As I look ahead to the holiday season which would typically mean a trip home to the East Coast, I know we’re sitting still for now. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we aren’t doing anything except cooking and decorating our house. If you feel safe flying, I can respect that. Just respect that I don’t.
I’m still processing that work-life balance is damn there impossible when your work and your life are ALL done in your house surrounded by the sounds of your spouse and children.
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I just want a safe space to say I’m pissed. I’m sad. I’m anxious. I’m ready for some adult (other than me) to show up and fix this crap that feels irrevocably broken.