I have to admit, at times during this lockdown it is totally lost on me that everyone else is going through feeling trapped and isolated, because this shit is actually familiar as hell to me over the last few years.
Be warned: This is a post about my struggles as a parent. Anyone who tries to turn it into a gratitude exercise or tone policing will be gleefully eviscerated. I'm in the mood!
This morning I woke up, did my inhaler puffs (because that's part of my life now, but more on that another time), and rallied my spirits as much as possible to have another day of indoor circus time with a toddler.
It didn't work. Or, it did briefly. (The rallying. Jury's still out on the inhaler.)
Pretty shortly after I got up, I realized I needed to have a solid cry in the shower. I needed to actually feel my feelings, not try to keep my voice steady in front of a child while I was tumbling into the abyss within me.
I put on Sesame Street for Dash, and the tears started before the water was even warm.
While I count myself fortunate to have had the flexibility to stay at home with my child, both before and during this pandemic, I have also been attempting to conjure a life for myself that doesn't feel like unpaid domestic servitude.
I have spent so many days in relative isolation with my kiddo that you'd think that I'd be good at it by now. But, alas, days like this appear to still be part of the program. And they are brutal. With word coming through last night that we have another month of this, the physical sensation of my feelings could no longer be held at bay.
In a 30" square shower stall, I tried to resolve my feelings of desperation and claustrophobia, as I also attempted the steam out the persistent wheeze in my left lung.
Over and over in the last couple of years, I have tried to clamber my way up into a balanced life, succeeding in moments only to find myself sliding abruptly all the way back down the greasy pole to the bottom with a thud.
So, here we are again. But, this time, with yet more restrictions on movements, friends legally at a distance, and the deep reality of really having to muck through this without outside help.
As lonely as this feels, I 100% know that I am not alone. I imagine the majority of mothers have felt this, and are probably deep in it right now in much the same way. Fathers, too. Heck, all caregivers. We are all now in this WFH trap where our shift never really ends and tasks seldom get the luxury of our full bandwidth.
I am fortunate to have a partner who is an excellent husband and father, and who thankfully finds parenthood a welcome change of pace from his newly-altered, intense work days. He sees this all for what it is, thank god, so I am at least relieved of judgment from that side.
But, even in this isolation, I feel the guilt and fear. The feeling I usually have, that I'm earning my A+ in motherhood, slips aside to make room for persistent anxiety that my child will sense my disconnect, be damaged somehow by my lack of creativity and precariously perforated positive attitude.
There's more of this to come. There will be ups and downs. Life will have meaning again beyond getting through the days and serving others first.
And so the mantra repeats, until breathing eases again and falling feels like flying.