Parental Angst and Quarantine

It’s day 3,000 of quarantine and I just finished trying to explain to my partner how I’m already having mixed emotions about life returning to normal in a few short-long weeks.

Realistically, I’ve been working from home since March 16th. It’s been a weird few weeks. It’s like your starring in your own version of ‘Castaway’ but instead of being on a desert island with a volleyball you’re strongly being advised to stay at home with whomever might also live there.

For me, work has been busy, at least I think it has. It’s hard to tell because I’m taking care of my two year old. If you’re unfamiliar with a two year old’s tempo (and unless you have one currently, I don’t blame you b/c who the hell cares what two year olds do?) it’s a strange mix. It’s like being with someone you’ve loved your whole life that has amnesia, speaks broken English, has a fierce coke habit but still gets the munchies, and shits their pants.

Normally my daughter goes to daycare four days a week, but it truly has been so lovely to spend so much time together at home. Letting her wake up every day with no sense of rush. Hearing the excitement in her little feet as her dinosaur footie pajamas come trotting down the hallway, knowing she’s home another day. BUT, every second of our day is a constant guess. There’s no guarantee for Zoom meetings, conference calls, or any semblance of a schedule because at any second during these I could look up to see her examining the poo in her pull-up that she was just changed into less than four minutes ago – really, kid? you couldn’t have gotten that out with the rest of the load? – or she’ll come in and hand me the detergent loading tray of the washing machine that was running (god only knows what this maneuver will do to the towels), or she will have just regurgitated her hard boiled egg onto the carpet because she thought the cat wanted some too. Finger painting the bathroom with my eye cream, peeling all the labels off her crayons in a manner you cannot fathom (she doesn’t have a pencil sharpener but it looks like they went through a pencil sharpener), peeling everything apart actually – the pictures off puzzle pieces, dismembering her books, animal magnets- anything that’s layered, gets peeled. The list goes on with any combination of maddening and unexplainable behavior possible.

It’s like being with someone you’ve loved your whole life that has amnesia, speaks broken English, has a fierce coke habit but still gets the munchies, and shits their pants.

These moments make working from home a cruel joke. The memes you see of the parenting & working from home are sad truths. When I talk to friends without kids and hear about their scenarios, I cannot imagine. Truth be told though, if I didn’t have kids during this strange, weird pandemic I’d be on such a THC and booze filled bender it’s probably a blessing I’m also six months pregnant. I will just say it’s been tough being sober to this point. Slipping into a few glasses of cabernet at the end of mommy/manager day sounds extremely pleasurable. But, I’m to the point now where I find myself waddling as I try to chase after my little critter. In any given day I feel like I’ve lived a thousand lives – in the morning on days when I am able to have 45 minutes before sweet potato awakens I’m an unrealistic go-getter – like the scene in ‘Requiem for a Dream’ when the mom starts out on pills…I’m scittering around my kitchen preparing the pot of coffee I’ll reheat seven different times but never actually finish, booting up my laptop at my dining room table, looking at my to-do list with the foolish confidence I’ll do close to any of it, because as soon as my email opens ‘HOLY SHIT ON A STICK’ I have 42 emails since last night because now everyone is copied on EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. EMAIL. Smash cut to a couple hours later when the realities of time have weighed into my crows feet and I’ve been the librarian, the lunch lady, the janitor, the maniac trashy K-Mart mother screaming obscenities at her children, Maria from Sound of Music, and any and all forms of a human in between, including an actual employee.

Okay, so I’ve laid out the stressful and rock-bottom points of mandated home employment. The silver linings though that provide the thread for the silver clouds that are being weaved into my long-term memory for these days will be the little jack-o-lantern toothy grin I get so see every time I look up. The big, beautiful hazel eyes that I’m able to re-assure when she gets startled by the garbage truck, or respond back to “what you doin’ mommy?” 13 times in a row. Snuggling up on the rainy mornings because she just isn’t ready to be awake yet (and who am I kidding, I’m not either). Breaking out for an afternoon walk around the block to pick dandelions for her Buzz Lightyear she carts around in a doll stroller (definitely my genes in this kid). Chasing her little naked butt up and down the hallway as we fight the seemingly endless battle of potty-training. The infectious giggles as we wrestle on the ‘big bed’ or watch Toy Story’s 1-4 for the 700th time. (Side note: I could most definitely do a one-man show of every scene in the franchise.) These pieces of the day are what I’m preparing myself to mourn once we all get chained back to the horrid 40-hour work week. That’s what I was trying to explain to my husband earlier this evening. Sure, when he walked in the door from work it looked like a mixture of toys, diapers, and semi-chewed food were sprayed from a flame thrower across every inch of our house and I was truthfully bitching about everything. Realistically though, this will be like returning from maternity leave and I’m nervous.

It’s times like these in life that I wish I knew what I could do career-wise to be a self-sustaining hustler vs. working for the man. Even though the man/company I work for is extremely wonderful. It’s just hard. This has always been my problem, being someone with a vision and following it. I always get sidetracked and find myself down these paths and then I’ll get overwhelmed by the amount of paths there are to choose from. Like the endless night sky. I guess any star you choose to chase is going to be a journey in itself, but I never seem to be able to stop looking around at the blanket of stars and possibilities vs. focusing on one star to set as my destination.

Well, things certainly took a bit of metaphysical turn there at the end, but that’s how my brain works. It’s strange how all this time away from everything you thought was important makes you realize the most important things truly are in front of you.

Anyone else out finding themselves grappling with these polarizing feelings as well? Or am I just too sober at this point? [insert LOL emoji]. As always, feel free to share, you know you’re not alone.

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