I’ve been getting a lot of texts and messages from friends lately asking me how I am. You see, where I live in Southern Ontario my kids have been moved from in-person to virtual school and as of yesterday my province went into a Stay-At-Home order, complete with a loud, unexpected and jarring Emergency Alert on my phone from the government yesterday.
It’s meant a lot, people checking in. It has taken me a second to realize that people are thinking of me because of my circumstance, a solo parent with four kids. It’s not like I have been having any kind of public meltdown on social media to worry them.
So, I asked myself…. how am I? I am writing this post on Friday January 15th. Today I am good. I feel solid. I have created a routine, lowered my own expectations and have been loading on self-care. But on Tuesday January 5th I was not okay. I was totally overwhelmed.
So I began waking up super early to fit even more into my day.
Parents, doesn’t it feel like we are being asked to be superhuman? We are asking to be spread thinner and thinner. I’m like a very dry piece of toast right now.
All of those statistics of women having to take a step back in their careers is really becoming a reality for me. But as a solo parent I cannot just stop. I also can’t drop my self-care (workouts, hot baths, pulling myself together) because I tried that one and had zero patience for anyone.
I can’t just leave my kids to do school completely solo… tried that one too and I quickly realized that two six-year-olds need me right at their side during virtual school. Luckily they have an extremely understanding teacher who lets them take lots of breaks and knows I am helping them get through the work and take big steps away from their screens while the teacher spends most of her time walking half the class through the technology because the reality is, most parents do not have the job flexibility I do to sit their with their child.
What about my two big kids? They have totally amazed me with how engaged and self sufficient they are the entire day with their online school. In fact, I basically don’t see them all day. BUT, the evening comes and they both spiral. The screen time, isolation and being cut off from their friends rears its ugly head and they need me. All of me. This one by the way is next week’s problem to solve… I’m thinking after school outdoor walks reading after dinner and early bedtime routines with more structure. This one will definitely come with pushback from my two pre-teens. But I’m the parent and they need this.
These are just the biggest things, the balls I am juggling that are made of glass. That cannot break. There are 50 other balls that are in the air. Some others are glass, most are plastic.
I am juggling, constantly.
Right now I’d say I’m swimming. Not drowning, not just trying to keep my head above water, or even treading water.
I am swimming.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my hell zone moments everyday. You know, those moments where you are going along fairly well and BOOM… you’re hit with this strong feeling of depression and it all washes over you…
When was the last time I was able to hug my parents? Will we get sick? I miss going out. I miss my friends. I’m worried about my kids. Will this isolation impact them long-term? If I get in a car accident can my local hospital take care of me properly, or is it too overwhelmed? Will my friends that own brick and mortar businesses lose everything? I feel claustrophobic.
Luckily something I learned from the first wave is that these hell zone moments are common for a lot of people and they are just that, moments. In those moments I acknowledge my feelings, I validate them and remind myself that these are big, real, normal feelings.
I don’t fight it.
I let the wave wash over me. Then if I can I step away from whatever I’m doing and switch it up. The moment moves on and I begin swimming again.
After talking to my friends, (funny enough the ones who have been checking in on me), I’ve realized just how good I have it. I have friends whose houses are mid-renovation and they are trying to do virtual school with the constant sound of a nail gun in the background.
I have friends who are full-on extroverts (I am not. I am an ambivert and homebody) and they are not built for this. They are not able to spread their wings right now and I cannot imagine what that must feel like.
So, how am I?
Today I am swimming.
How are you?