Can I be real and raw for a minute? This quarantine has me feeling cheated. When I elected to be a stay-at-home mom for the year, this isn’t what I signed up for. Up until March 13th, 2020, I loaded up the kids each morning and we had an outing or excursion every day. Every. Day. Story time at the library. Play time at Tumble Beans. Weekly mommy-and-me gymnastics. Free play at the Jam Time indoor playground at the Natick Mall, followed by grocery shopping at Wegmans. After six months of staying at home with my emerging bilingual littles, we had a schedule and we had a groove, which on the best day resulted in a tandem nap that gave Mami some much-needed reprieve and “me time” during midday, before the 9-year-old got home from school and our evening schedule and responsibilities commenced. Life was smooth, life was good. And then it was all wrenched away in a moment by COVID-19.
The first day of mandatory social distance quarantine was awful. I knew it would be horrible to be cooped up inside with everyone from 7am to 7pm by myself, and it proved to be just as bad as I expected. The kids cried a chorus, nap time barely happened, the house was destroyed by 10am, the girls fought incessantly. I melted down. The sense of claustrophobia overwhelmed me, and my inner animal lashed out. Now I know how the tigers at the zoo feel! When my husband finally came home, I first said thanks be to God that we have our health and nobody in our family has the virus. But other than that, my day had been my worst nightmare.
Nothing has been quite as bad as that first day. I think God pushed me to the breaking point that first day, so no other day could break me. But that still hasn’t made any subsequent day easy.
Why does a disaster have to happen like this when I’m already on maternity leave??? If I were working, I would RELISH this time home with the kids. (And be getting paid for it.) But stuck in the house with them all day every day for the unforeseeable future like this sounds like a morbid type of torture right now.
And I know that is horrible to say, because we are lucky to have our heath and we are all OK, but it’s how I feel. Now the quarantine has been extended to May 4, and very likely will be extended further. I know some school districts all over the country have canceled the rest of the school year. Quarantine life from now until summer sounds unfathomable tedious.
Last night I was catching up on some of my favorite TV shows (how is it possible that I’m stuck at home all day for more nearly two weeks and have actually watched less TV than usual???) and I found it surreal to see the TV show characters and story lines continuing as if the world hasn’t completely stopped. The Big Three celebrated Kate’s son’s first birthday on the season finale of This Is Us, and the besties on The Bold Type had a bachelorette party for Sutton. I found myself overcome with jealousy to see these characters getting to go out and leave their houses!
I know we are going to get through this time, and that we’ll grow stronger for it. But when I pulled out the tiny ball pit for the kids to play in a few days ago, I couldn’t help but pine for the giant ball pit at Tumble Beans, and all the days when leaving the house was the norm, not a punishable offense.
I’d like to offer this platitude to all the other stay-at-home moms who can relate to my bemoaning. It’s okay to feel sad about being cloistered in the house with our kids. It doesn’t mean we love them any less, and it doesn’t mean we don’t love spending time with them. Of course we do! It just means that this situation is inconceivably hard. But this is a time for immeasurable growth for our countries, our families, and for us as moms. Just remember, growing is hard, and that’s okay.