The Mental Load of Quarantine on Mothers

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It’s been 35 days. Currently, as I write this post, we have officially been quarantined to our homes for 35 days. And I’m slowly losing myself. Never have I ever heard my name called so many times in a day or even longed just to leave my house for ten minutes to get toilet paper at a store without a mask or worrying about it even being in stock. It’s a dark feeling that leaves me frustrated and nervous because I don’t know when there will be an end. I feel as if I am continuously telling myself I’m okay, but that’s a lie. I’m not. We’re not. So many of us are not okay. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when I wake up each morning because it’s the same thing over and over again, without an end in sight.

And I’m angry.

I’m angry that there were signs of the catastrophic impact this would virus would have on our country, and they were ignored, called a hoax, and disregarded. Downplaying this “flu” as nothing more than just that and heck, more people died of the Swine Flu. We’re fine. But we’re not. People are sick. People are dying. My friends and family are dying. YOUR friends and family are dying. Our healthcare systems are on overload, and our healthcare workers are overworked, putting themselves at risk to help others.  And I’m angry.

I’m broken.

I’m broken for the businesses closing. The families and professionals that have worked so hard to grow, connect, and make a difference in communities have to close their doors indefinitely. Now they are trying to figure out new and “innovative” ways to keep their business running. People are losing jobs – 16 million and counting. And that breaks my heart because weeks ago, so many people were living their best life when suddenly everything was swept out from underneath their feet. And I’m broken for them.

I’m lonely.

I miss my friends. I miss my family. I just want to hug people. I want to have date nights away from home again because I crave the alone time we used to have weekly. I miss smiles, eye contact, and friendly gestures that are now hidden behind medical masks when out in public, which are rare trips these days. But my kids are lonely too. They miss their friends, teammates, and teachers. They keep asking when they can have a playdate or spend the weekend with their grandparents, and I have to tell them I don’t know sadly. Because I don’t know. There is no timeline, and we are lonely.

I’m anxious.

I wake up at night; my chest feels like it’s going to explode. My mind races with thoughts and fears about my husband’s job, my own business, the health and well-being of my friends and family. I fear for my kids and their academic success but also their emotional and mental health too. There are so many emotions that have started just to build up from this quarantine, and I’m not sure how to help them sort through the pile. My chest hurts so much, and I’m anxious.

I’m remorseful.

My heart feels guilty for snapping at my kids when I know we are all emotionally at the same place. We are all sick of each other and want to leave this house without restrictions. I battle the guilt of trying to balance working and giving them attention too. I hate going to bed at night with a list of things that aren’t crossed off of my to-do list because my brain was like a ping pong ball, trying to juggle it all. And I feel remorseful. 

But here’s the thing – I know I’m not alone. I know that there are hundreds and most likely thousands of other moms and women who are feeling this same way. And this brings a lot of emotions to the surface but also a sense of relief. Because in a time of hopelessness and uncertainty, I know there are people, my people, who are feeling the same way. This is hard stuff. It’s real and raw and definitely ugly, but in the realm of it all, I can sense I’m not alone. I tell myself that we can do hard things – and we most certainly can. It’s also okay to scream into the universe and cry when you’re in the shower or at bedtime. Heck, cry while you’re making dinner or going about your day. We are building resilience within this generation of parenting. You are not alone, friend. Trust me, we see you. We feel you. We are right there with you. 

One step at a time.