Stir craziness. Claustrophobia. Cabin fever. Temporary insanity.
Those are a few ways I would explain the almost five months I have spent in quarantine due to the current global pandemic.
In March, my husband, who has an underlying medical condition, and I received the green light from our employers to take our talents to the house to telework until further notice. That move turned out to be perfect timing as, one week later, our then 13-month-old daughter’s daycare announced its closure.
It took about 72 hours of us all being exclusively at home to realize that quarantine living was a less-than-ideal way of life. As one of my homegirl’s frankly put it, “This is too much togetherness for anybody.” Now though, as I prepare to go back to work (on site), I admit that this time of prolonged isolation has deepened my appreciation for five things.
Listen, teleworking with a toddler in tow is no walk in the park. Simply checking and responding to emails meant that, if an object wasn’t sharp, hot, or visibly dirty, I had to let my child snatch and run with it until I could click “send.” Not to mention, I have cleaned more spills, managed more meltdowns, and watched more Cocomelon than the law should allow. And I’m a lawyer, so I should know.
Don’t get me wrong. I have loved spending more time with my baby girl—time my schedule otherwise wouldn’t have permitted. But quarantine parenting has made it abundantly clear that I am no trained child care and development professional. I am Mommy, and I am doing the best I can. And that is okay.
So, on behalf of all the working moms who suddenly find themselves in a similar new normal, I say to all the reputable childcare professionals, THANK YOU for your patience, passion, and perseverance in caring for our children. I also apologize if we ever unduly criticized you. Until now, we had no idea.
My Husband’s Work
My husband works as a sales and retention specialist (code for call center connoisseur). I always knew his job was stressful, and I often wondered how he could spend 8+ hours listening to people whine and complain. But that perspective of his work was a superficial one. For him, his work is more than merely helping people resolve their service issues.
Since his workstation relocated to our living room, I have overheard him on several customer calls. I have heard him offer sincere condolences to the grieving child canceling the services of a recently deceased parent or give encouragement to a father who had just lost his job. I have listened as he converted an irate customer into a cheerful one by applying his comedic wit and lighthearted swag. All this while being a winning salesman.
Before, I only assumed what his job was like. Now, I know, and I appreciate witnessing firsthand the sweat and savvy it takes for him to successfully secure the bag for our family. It’s really quite sexy.
Before quarantine, my work attire was not pajamas, and my lunch break did not include wrestling a tiny human into a high chair. My home office was not littered with loads of laundry or wig and hat combos needed to quickly throw on before a Zoom meeting. And if my husband and I had a disagreement, there was no long drive to work to process my emotions.
My point is, there is very little compartmentalizing in quarantine living. The once clearly defined lines of life are all blurred, and I’m just saying that I have missed the balance. To be fair though, I also will miss the pajamas.
At the start of quarantine, I was carrying nearly 30 pounds of postpartum weight. My schedule as a new mom in private litigation practice kept me in a drive-through and left little time or energy for exercise. But, as the cases of COVID-19 infections increased, I became acutely aware of my need to pursue a healthier lifestyle. With the extra time at home, I meal prepped and worked out—a lot. So far, I’m 18 pounds lighter, and I feel good. Can you say, #quarantinefine?
Also, social distancing has worked wonders for mental and emotional health.
It takes a village to raise a child, especially one who has been displaced from daycare in the middle of a pandemic. My village has showed up for me and my family in sacrificial and monumental ways during this time. You all deserve the world, and I am hustling hard every day so I can give it to you.
Ultimately, I appreciate most the options to quarantine and telework, which are privileges I do not take for granted. Shouts out to all my (s)heroes serving on the front lines of health, safety, and all things essential. Y’all are the real MVPs.
Stay safe and grateful, y’all!