March 11, 2020 was my last normal day. It’s been nearly a year of this pandemic (even longer for some), and it seems like a good time for reflection. A few weeks ago, I read a great piece called “I Hate the Mom That Covid Has Made Me.” It got me thinking about how I’ve changed as a mom over the last year and how I feel about it. And I must confess: I don’t mind the mom the pandemic has made me.
To be clear, I despise the pandemic and I can’t wait for it to end. This has not been a period of thriving for me, though I’m always glad to hear of others who have had a different experience. I, like many people, regularly vacillate between stress and hope. I’ve been trying to implement self-care strategies that sometimes seem woefully inadequate. I keep telling myself that just like there was a before, there will be an after. I try to get myself excited about little comforts and rituals. It works, sometimes. But despite it all, the mom the pandemic has made me is one I respect.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have had many good things to say about the mom the pandemic has made me. Last February, I was on the precipice of becoming a mom of two, with a baby due at the end of the month. I valued efficiency and productivity. In some ways, I had no choice but to prioritize those things, in light of my life circumstances at that time. I was operating at a frenetic pace and kinda sorta liked it that way. When I brought my second son home after a brief but harrowing stint in the NICU, I thought life would go back to business as usual in no time. But obviously, that’s not what happened. Two weeks after we got home, the world stopped and I was forced to adjust.
The mom the pandemic has made me operates at a slower pace. On one hand, I think all primary caregivers developed superhuman multitasking abilities once our support systems were taken away. But I have also noticed that since last March, my sense of time has shifted. We are at home so much that I rarely need to rush to finish anything. It’s nice not to be constantly running around with a checklist and sprinting from activity to activity. My idea of what I consider a productive day has changed, and I hope it doesn’t change back anytime soon.
The mom the pandemic has made me is more tolerant of imperfection. I should write a whole essay on this. I’ll be honest: my standards for many things are much lower than they were at this time last year. My house has been in a perpetual state of disarray since I brought my baby home. Nothing is ever where it belongs. I rarely look put together, which is a huge departure from my baseline. But I’ve started to view this as a sign of a home filled with happy young children, love, and fun. It won’t always be this way, and I’m trying my hardest to see the charm in the chaos.
The mom the pandemic has made me is more appreciative. It’s just about every day that I hear something on the news that brings me close to tears and reminds me of how much I have and how lucky I am. No matter how difficult conditions may be, this pandemic has taught me to be exceedingly grateful for health, stability, and love. Without big events and vacations to look forward to, my attention and excitement have shifted towards appreciating the small moments of joy that take place within my own walls. My baby’s entire lifespan has taken place during this dark year, yet he is filled with so much light. There is so much quietly unfolding that is worthy of celebration if we just open our eyes to it.
The mom the pandemic has made me is more creative. I’ve made a big push to create rituals that my family can count on and craft special moments whenever I can, no matter how simple. Hopefully, it’s the start of lifelong family traditions that will serve as a source of identity and self-esteem for my kids as they grow up. I plan to keep this going even when more external distractions are available to us.
The mom the pandemic has made me does her best without beating herself up. We are all putting forth a Herculean effort to keep our kids safe and help them thrive during this time. The me of yesteryear would certainly not have been satisfied with my current level of functioning, but that’s the beauty of the mom that the pandemic has made me. I’ve reached a point where I celebrate the fact that I’ve been able to manage so much and *usually* don’t ruminate on my shortcomings, simply because I don’t have the bandwidth. It’s a valuable lesson that I hope I can carry with me.