Today is Mothers' Day and, as celebrations go, it was a dud. Kiddo was out with his dad. J was digging a foundation for the new shed. I went grocery shopping. The store was crowded, despite going at my usual Sunday morning hour, and everyone appeared to be purchasing flowers, plants, cards, gifts, and ingredients for festivities with moms.
Driving home I was surprised by a wave of sadness. Mothers' Day has rarely been a big deal for me. N's dad wasn't really into it, and it's awkward to take your own young child to purchase a card or gift for yourself, so I accepted it as a flimsy excuse for a Hallmark card event. But, ugh, no event for me and my motherhood.
This year, I am keenly aware of my relationship with my son in a different way than prior years. Partly, it's because he's 12 and relates to me in a different way than he did as a smaller child. Partly, it's that we're under a stay-at-home order so we are together, each day, more than we have been since he was a newborn. I enjoy his company, (most of the time... he is a tween). I welcome his ideas, interests, and developing perspective. I'm surprised by his vocabulary. I'm laughing to tears from his comedic timing.
If you know me well, then you know I wasn't planning to be a mother. I was a newlywed anticipating a two career household, with a cat, and no children. I looked forward to fulfilling work, out there, in the world, and hopes for comfortable compensation in the future.
But kiddo came along and everything changed, as they warn you it will, and now it's 12 years into this mothering gig and I'm missing my kid on Mothers' Day. And that's a good feeling. I'm grateful for this darn kid and I'm grateful to be his mother.
Tonight, I am grateful and content. This weekend felt...normal. Like the former normal. Kiddo went to his dad's. I cleaned and organized the house. We purchased more seeds at the hardware store. There was time together and time apart. I napped, twice!, today. While grocery shopping, I picked up some stuck-at-home toys for kiddo. He was grateful and we played together in the late afternoon.
Recent days have been bumpy. Each day with its own series of ups and downs and back up again (mostly). Because the "new normal" doesn't arrange itself overnight. We create it one small course correction at a time, which bring us closer to stability, familiarity, and a sense of normal.
Things that are working in my house: making art, physical activity outdoors, planting seeds (literally) for a big new garden, revising the schedule of working-at-home and school-at-home, practicing patience and mercy (aka grace) with ourselves and each other. What's working in your home? What fails are you either learning from or just moving on from? It all counts.
I was tired, pausing, and resuming, on Sunday, March 22. I'm exhausted, queasy, still in my pjs, and sitting very still, today. The last two days I pushed to keep up with my job and kickstart the kiddo's homeschooling. I tried to make (force) a normal level of productivity from both of us. But this isn't normal. So we'll ride the waves of productivity and rest. We'll plan and accomplish; rest and recover. These aren't cookie-cutter days. These are days of adaptation and attention.
Pause. Breathe. Repeat.
Social distancing and staying home - doing everything for the family at home, feels more difficult and draining than I think it should. Or, maybe, it simply is difficult. And I am tired.
I'm tired in my body, my mind, and my emotions. I'm not to the bedridden, despairing fatigue place. I'm at the place where I can pause, nap, move slowly, set priorities and only do those tasks. Pause between tasks. Nap, again. Jot a few notes in my journal. I'm at the place of acknowledging that this is challenging.
It's challenging for good reasons. Transitions from one set of routines and expectations and the corresponding feelings to a completely alternative and, frankly, alien set is challenging. The limbo of not knowing how long this will last and what the impacts and implications will be on jobs, school, resources, etc. is challenging. The multi-tasking to manage working at home and schooling at home and parenting all day while doing both of those things all at the same time is challenging. Feeling distant and disconnected from friends and coworkers and neighbors and family is challenging. Feeling crowded, as a deeply introverted introvert, by the tasks, immediate family, work-related texts and emails, podcasts and TV playing in the other rooms are all challenging.
So we, I, pause. To say, yes, this is a different kind of unfamiliar labor for which I'm not trained because there is no training. To say, it's ok that this is hard. To say, now we, I, pause. I acknowledge the work I'm doing. I rest and restore myself. I identify the skills I'm using and prepare to use them more appropriately and skillfully in the coming week.
And I nap.
"Pause. Breathe. Repeat." An entry about remembering to take my own advice. And some household tools for remembering your calm and focus in the midst of a very challenging transition.
Now is a good time and place for me.
Here are a few things that make Now so good:
Me, eating an egg McMuffin, at the beach, in my car, alone, on a Saturday afternoon. This instance of peace and luxury thanks to a fine young man called The Babysitter.