Conquering (inner) Criticism in the Times of Covid: A Working Mom’s Tale

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“Mama, breathe, there’s no award for being the hardest working mom of the year.”

 

This is more a reminder for myself, but if it is helpful for you—PLEASE take it. Thinking you’re the only one with reservations, second-guesses, or hesitation, welcome to the club! Truth is we’re all working moms, working through our guilt, and it is HARD.

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Flashback to March when the pandemic first unfolded, and in this post here, I was all about finding the gratitude in this “situation.” This situation being “a global pandemic,” which I was convinced that if we just “hunkered down” would be over by now. Such optimism!

 

Here we are, almost seven months later, and we as a nation are still adjusting, my family is still adjusting, and I for sure am majorly still adjusting some more. No color-coded calendar can help what we’re all facing right now, which is how to creatively make this “situation” work. And this is a normal reaction. 

 

As a working mom juggling virtual learning, shushing kids out of Zoom calls, ensuring laundry is done, and being an emotional support while completing what feels like weeks worth of tasks in even less time has left me exhausted.

 

Cobbling together the duties of working and mothering has reached its brink (maybe even breaking point), and honestly, I’ve been ashamed.

 

Meme_Author UnknownThere’s one common message I’m hearing from other moms, especially working moms. As we shift into the unforeseeable future of virtual learning spaces and make-shift home offices, there’s this feeling like we’re not living up to anyone’s standards and most definitely not our own. But why should we? 

 

Let’s move from others saying “I don’t know how she does it” to a place of transparency to say, “I may not be able to do this all by myself, and I’m okay with that.”

 

There’s no first place. 

As some would say, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and boy, does comparison come at the strangest times. Virtual learning spaces have really been a trigger for me. Seeing picture-perfect places for children to temporarily homeschool kicked my “type 3 mama” spidey senses into overdrive. I pinned, pasted, and painted all weekend to create a perfect space for our kindergartner. Honestly, I felt guilty that his experience was not shaping up to what I hoped, but no perfectly themed table could change that. Us mamas are getting the head pats, but at what cost? Whether our kiddo is at the kitchen table or an executive’s desk, learning (whatever it looks like) is happening, and that’s enough to give ourselves credit. There’s no ranking in a global pandemic. 

 

Forgive yourself and those around you.

Dinner isn’t getting done. Laundry is sitting on your bed or in the dryer, in the basket, or on a chair. That email (or in my case, emails) will go unanswered longer than you hoped, but eventually, it will get done. You don’t have to strive for perfection, just make it good enough. Order that take-out (aka stimulate the economy). Have fresh laundry? #winning But can’t stand the thought of folding? Make a clean and dirty basket. Let the kids go wild with picking their own outfits. Maximize every hour of the day, setting boundaries and resetting through the week to complete work, but above all, do it with a guiltless sense of grace.

 

“When in doubt, outsource it out.” 

I was so set on showing others I could “do it all”— mother and manage.  Thinking we could homeschool our oldest while engaging our early toddler, I lasted one day. I felt a sense of defeat, thinking I had let my family down. But I learned in that moment that my husband is a better math teacher, our toddler was happier at daycare, my mother does an amazing job making lunches, and I was best suited in my role as home manager or my proudest title, COO (Chief Officer of Operations). I learned that I am not alone and that I had a deep village and partnership that wouldn’t let me be, but I had to be open to letting things go. Rely on your village to keep you strong and uplifted during these times.

 

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