It’s almost unreal about what is happening. Thousands of deaths, people out of work, and those working on the front lines are getting burnt out. It has been a huge burden on farmworkers, medical personnel and so many others who are trying to keep those alive who are sheltering in place. Something else that has been highlighted during this pandemic is the difficulties that working mothers face. With kids home from school, babies out of daycare, and the inability to just get out of the house, women are having a difficult time doing… essentially everything. Along with the doing, there is a flood of emotions that accompany this as well.
If women have a full-time job and are able to work from home they are torn between caring for their children and really focusing on their work. You want to help your 11-year-old with their online homework but you need to write a brief. Your toddler runs to the potty but you are in the middle of a zoom call. You have to fix lunch for your preschool-age twins but your boss unexpectedly calls to help them put out a fire. Each of these things and situations needs your complete and full attention and you have to make the choice as to which one to choose.
These Moms inevitably pull through and prioritize, but the underlying emotion to all of this is guilt. Even with many businesses giving their amazing support and confidence in their employees who are Mom’s, most feel like they aren’t doing enough.
Behind the scenes, people don’t typically see the constant running around. Breaks aren’t as easy as walking away from your desk to go “have some lunch” or “take a walk”, they involve engaging your kid, throwing laundry in the dryer, cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast, or cramming in as much “momming” as possible. On top of feeling guilty, things still need to get done no matter what.
Breaks are typically meant for a moment to get away, relax a little and decompress, but at home, it’s physically impossible to get a true break when you have children.
Usually, when we are home with our children it’s the weekend and we are able to take time out for them. Being at home and working means denying them a chance to cuddle, hang out, and play. Little ones often don’t understand this which evokes many feelings, but especially one of sadness.
It is not to say that many fathers aren’t going through the same difficulties. Parents, in general, are struggling. But there is an element with women where care and nurturing while pursuing a career has had a history of not being in their favor even when they aren’t in the middle of quarantine. And further, the dynamics between a mother and child are complex.
Despite the many negative things that this quarantine has brought up, there are many positive feelings as well. That zen experience when looking out at your backyard, allowing you to take a deep breath. Your cat or dog jumping onto your lap. Random hugs and kisses throughout the day from your little ones. The sense of community that we didn’t have before knowing others feel the same, and that being outside and together has so much more importance. The feeling of gratitude for what you have and the hope that it will eventually get better.
It’s hard to treasure the moments of being together so often, but in many ways, this confinement has given us a new way to look at life and the knowledge that we, in fact, can adapt and overcome to any situation. We have had the rare chance to be in our homes and live our work lives simultaneously. It’s not always easy, but there are treasures to be found within the chaos.
If you are a mother working at home, know that you are not alone in these feelings. Employers need to be cognizant of the tightrope that mothers walk day-in and day-out. Many of these employers are going through the same difficulties. It may take mothers a little longer to respond to an email or fix a problem, but they will get the job done. Don’t ignore these feelings. Acknowledge them and find the things that give you and peace. Most of all, give yourself grace. No one is perfect and being hard on yourself won’t help. When all of this is over, we will have a greater appreciation for time at the office and the uninterrupted bliss that comes with daycare and school. If anything, this experience has given us a new understanding of what it’s like to be together and realize that it’s the little things that get us through.
Photo by Laurent Peignault on Unsplash