I don’t know how you do it.
I’ve heard this a lot over the last year. My response is usually something along the lines of ‘neither do I’.
But I do know how I do it. I don’t have a choice so I just do it.
And I’m a fighter and stubborn as hell. I would rather struggle than admit I need help.
In the early days of the pandemic I was stressed and that showed up in the form of rage. I yelled a lot. I swore a lot. I didn’t like myself much. But it felt like it would be short-lived and it didn’t feel like help was an option. I can do this for a little longer I would tell myself. And besides, we weren’t supposed to see anyone, so how was I supposed to ask for help? My husband was still in the office and working from home wasn’t an option, which is still the case. My parents still work so asking for help during the day didn’t feel like an option.
The days were intense but by the time I settled into bed it didn’t seem so bad. I made it through another day. I would tell myself it wasn’t as hard as I thought and that I would do a better job tomorrow.
Tomorrow would come and it was not better.
And still it didn’t seem like help was an option.
As time went on we settled into a groove. The kids got to spend a little time at daycare and camp – help that I didn’t have to ask for, yes!
School came and it felt like a huge burden lifted. I had survived working from home with both kids for months! The light was bright! It wasn’t long before the light started dimming. Kids were in and out of school due to covid symptoms, potential exposure, actual exposure, Christmas break and then schools shut down again. We got a glimmer of hope and the kids were able to go back for several weeks before schools shut down again.
So now on top of having the kids home while I work, I was a teaching assistant helping them with tech issues, school questions and keeping on top of their schedule to ensure they were in their meetings when they were supposed to be. And all the while helping get snacks, drinks, supplies and giving into their demands to see what they were working on.
Somewhere in between all these interruptions is where I get my work done.
Along the way my boss would check in and ask what I needed and how they could help. Can the company hire a tutor or nanny to stay with the kids? That would help.
I tried to remain positive schools wouldn’t stay closed long-term, even though I knew otherwise in my gut.
I told myself I just needed to hold on a little longer. I made it this far. Maybe next week they will go back and it won’t be so hard. I started opening up about how hard it was. Sometimes that’s my passive way of asking for help. People would tell me I did it before and I can do it again. All I could think was yeah it was fucking hard as hell last time and the kids didn’t have to do school and I wasn’t burnt out and why can’t you just let me complain without having to minimize how much this sucks.
But I’m me, so of course I don’t say those things out loud. I just keep plugging away.
Mom. Meal Planner. Grocery Shopper. Cook. Cleaner. Laundry master. Teacher’s assistant. Wife. Employee. Daughter. Friend.
Keep all the balls in the air and no one will know that you don’t have it all together. No one will know you’re only pretending to be Superman. SuperMom. SuperMary.
Spoiler alert: I am not Superman.
Laundry piles up.
Dishes pile up.
Dog hair piles up. (Maybe it’s a good thing we haven’t been allowed to have friends over)
Work gets missed, pushed back, piled up.
Husband gets pushed aside.
I still yell.
I’m fucking exhausted.
One day I finally admitted out loud that I’m burnt out.
I admitted that I was in need of my own time and space. The weekdays feel like chaos, but that doesn’t mean I have to let the evenings and weekends feel that way too. I can accept help during those times so I can do what I need to do to reset myself.
I don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time.
The days are still chaos, but I’ve implemented a few things that help me along the way:
I pay my kids to attend their school meetings and I don’t feel bad about it.
I give myself grace for how my house looks. There are three humans and two dogs living and working in this space all day every day, it should look like it’s lived in. (The fourth human joins us for evenings and weekends)
I let my husband help as much as possible – this one should be easier than it is. I’m not saying he doesn’t want to help, he does. When I say I don’t want to ask for help, it goes for asking him, too.
I made the kids each a snack bin that gets filled at the beginning of the week. I don’t care what they eat from there and when. They are welcome to help themselves with the understanding that when the snacks are gone, they’re gone.
I take time for myself. Thursdays are my night off from all responsibility. This goes on the calendar so it’s booked in like an appointment.
I reflect and journal at the end of the day to take note of the things that went well.
I love my chaos. I know years from now I will look back on this time and remember how incredible it was to get to spend this extra time with my kids. I hope I will also remember how hard it was to try and hold it all together like I was Superman (or SuperMom).
But for now, when people say ‘I don’t know how you do it’, I’ll have a better answer than ‘neither do I’.
*So here I am, doing everything I can
Holding on to what I am
Pretending I’m a superman
*Superman by Goldfinger
Check it out on YouTube ! (Sharing the quarantine video they made because I love it!)