By now you’ve probably encountered the New York Times “expose” about the strain the pandemic and changing work dynamics are having on moms. There’s a LOT of stories about it. I am a mom working from home during the pandemic, and I’ve been struggling. I’ve largely avoided talking directly about the pandemic in REMAN U. We’ve touched on the “work from home” topic quite a bit, and I wrote a post about coming up for fresh air, wherever that is.
Writing for REMAN U has always been one part work – if I don’t have an article ready from another author, guess whose turn it is! – and part self-therapy. I dig deep and find a topic that would be beneficial for me to explore, and I write it out.
Sorry, folks, today it’s this.
Here is a very general statement that says: Of course, some dads do more than moms. Some, many, have it way worse than me or anyone I know directly, and I’m highly sensitive to that.
At home, I have a toddler. For anyone who has had kids or has known kids, you probably have some sense of what this means. Because of the obvious, and because it’s possible (difficult, yes, but possible), we have decided not to have him in preschool the last year. He’s at home. We don’t have a lot of help. I think that’s me being polite in saying there’s no infrastructure of family or friends that we can, safely or not, depend on to help with this whole situation.
I think a lot of people need help. I think a lot of people don’t have it.
My home office? It’s in my living room. I have a very tiny 2-bedroom house with no basement. There is a decided lack of closets, no spare room, and, even if I did have these “ideal” home office scenarios, I’d be hidden from my toddler, my toddler who needs me. Sure, sometimes I do meetings from my bedroom, the door closed, hoping futilely that he won’t knock on the door. And sometimes I do meetings just having gotten him to nap, sleeping on or very near me. Unprofessional? Maybe. The alternative? Heart-rending.
Some days are fine. Some days I cry. Some days I can’t get everything done, and I work on my laptop from bed with a headache until I know I need to go to sleep because when my toddler wakes me up, I have to prioritize his needs and then get to work. On and on it’s gone this last year.
Sometimes I consider the ways it could be worse: I could have more than one of these things (kids), I could have more to worry about than just their wellbeing, but their education, I could be sick. I could be unemployed. This list isn’t to make me feel bad for struggling. I am, you are, we all are, allowed to struggle within our own context.
I am a pretty honest person. If you ask me how I am in a meeting, I’ll probably say, “Fine,” or, “Good,” or, “You know, Monday!” or I’ll complain bitterly about the weather that makes the confines of my small 2-bedroom house with my toddler and dogs and person and stuff and work all the more claustrophobic. I suppose a lot of people aren’t using their work meetings as a desperate cry for help, after all, what help is there?
The articles posted the last month about the burden on moms were largely accurate and revealing and affirming and all that. But they didn’t offer much in terms of how society can change swiftly and drastically to right itself. It’s just this for now.
I’m extremely grateful for my job. Extremely grateful for this time with my son. Extremely grateful things aren’t worse. But you know what, sometimes it’s therapeutic to just acknowledge when things aren’t okay.
There isn’t often an infrastructure in corporate America (or wherever you are, really) for mental wellness. It has the longest way to come. Maybe it is yet to come. Here’s hoping!
Moms, I see you!