The Mothers Load
Mon May 03 2021
I am a stay at home mother. My daughter turned 5 and my son turned 2 the year the pandemic began. My husband and I had always wanted to homeschool our children, so when the pandemic hit, we were already prepared for home learning. Our daughter did well with her schooling, and we kept ourselves busy. When things were good, they were very good.
But they are not always good.
We were forced to pull our daughter from swimming lessons where she was able to play with kids. We were unable to register her for extra curricular classes. We were unable to take our family out for an evening out of the home. We were ‘encouraged’ to never leave. We were ‘encouraged’ to keep everyone out, away, and virtual. Everyone. I have had to keep them from hugging their grandparents, from seeing other kids, and from experiencing things that are so normal that I am at a loss on how to make up for the lost experiences.
I struggle with depression and anxiety. As a parent, that is incredibly difficult. Adding the pandemic on top has been devastating. My children have seen me break down far more times than I would like to admit. They have seen my weep when I get alerts on my phone about the emergency orders to ‘stay home’. At this point it feels like less of an advisory and more of a threat. It is like being in an abusive relationship.
Any parent can attest that time away is good for mental health and that it is good and important to step away from the home to regroup. Parenting is challenging. It is especially challenging when you are suffering from a mental illness and your village is virtual. How many times I wished I could just sit with my mom or a friend for coffee and not feel alone or feel like I need to type my tears. But according to the government, it is against the law to see my support system.
According to the government, I don’t need to see friends and family.
According to the government, I am not stuck at home, I am SAFE at home.
According to the government, we are all in this together.
But I am not sure that is true.
I will go weeks at a time without leaving my home. If I do happen to leave my home, it is only to get groceries or to go to therapy. I leave my home for short periods of time, long enough to feel my heart begin to race, for me to begin to sweat at the checkout aisle at the grocery store where I can’t understand what everyone is saying because of masks, and I rush to pack up my groceries unaided because the teller needs to stay away from me and I am not supposed to bring my husband with me because someone needs to stay with the kids.
My thoughts are racing and running.
I go to the car and I catch my breath.
And I wonder when it will be over...
Every outing is a mentally exhausting task. Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Depression. Over stimulation.
And again, when I get home. My family is caged.
There must be a middle ground. There must be a better way. This can not continue. If it continues on like this... how will I live?
I do not want to survive. I want to live.