I spend most of every day worried about the Mommies of Littles.*
(*And probably the Daddies of Littles who are the primary caregivers, as well… it’s just that my experience is as a Mommy, so feel free to substitute gender as you see fit.)
I think about the Mommies constantly. It is, I’d say, the most consistent thought I have during this period of isolation.
We had a Problem of Connection before this pandemic. The fact that we primarily raise our children in nuclear families — and there with the vast majority of childcare falling to the Mommies to do on their own — is already troublesome. Even though it’s normal. Even though we assume based on our culture this is how it’s Supposed to Be. Even though we think it’s part of the American Dream to live this way, isolated from others and protecting our privacy and Independence. The Mommies, though — nearly all of them that I know now or have ever known before — barely survive it. It’s mentally taxing. Physically draining. Emotionally overwhelming. And I don’t know why we keep doing it. We’re communal creatures. Biologically predisposed to live in extended families, tight-knit villages, tribes and clans. Both the children and their Mommies benefit from a collective approach to child rearing. And yet we eschew it. We stick to our live-alone guns. We go through our days with stress that feels like an elephant is sitting on our chests and we can’t breathe. It’s breaking us. And it’s not OK. And I don’t know how to fix it because it’s so entrenched in the way we operate. It’s how *I* operate. It’s how everyone I know operates.
These are the things I think when there’s not a pandemic.
Now that there is? And Mommies are shut-ins? With the usual unbearable pressures except increased by a thousand million hundred gazillion? I think about it non stop. Without ceasing. Like an itch I can’t reach.
I want to move in with All the Mommies. I want to share baby-walking shifts in the middle of the night and trade off for naps during the day. I want to do a load of their laundry which is ironic since I never want to do mine. I don’t want to raise my babies again — I did it already, and I did some things better than others, but I don’t wish for do-overs. Also, I’m not sure I’d survive it a second time. No, I don’t want to raise babies again, but I don’t want to see Mommies go it alone, either. Go it alone AND feel inadequate because they’re not “enjoying every minute,” blissed out on love endorphins.
I feel like Mommies are the unsung heroes of the global pandemic. Healthcare workers, yes. And grocery store employees. And teachers. And everyone who’s upended their life to make #StayHomeSaveLives happen. But the Mommies, Diary — the Mommies work as hard as doctors and as relentlessly to keep their people alive and well — but there are no international campaigns to thank them. No applause in the cities at 7pm. Their work is unseen.
I want there to be a solution.
I want there to be a fix.
But like so many ways people are suffering right now, I don’t know of a way to help other than to say I SEE YOU. And I’M WAVING IN THE DARK. And maybe someone smarter than me knows how we can assist?
Still, today was sunny again, and in Oregon that’s always a win.
And even with thoughts of helplessness, it was a good day.
Our neighbor’s daughter turned 11, and birthdays suck in quarantine. No parties. No friends. No waxy grocery store birthday cake with black frosting that turns your poop green. So our neighborhood rallied…
…and gathered small things we already had — candy, small bills, gifts bought for Christmases past but never given away — and crafted them into a scavenger hunt with clues and presents and very distanced well wishes along the way.
She enjoyed it, but I’m positive it made me even happier.
There’s something about getting out of our own heads for a bit to do a kindness for another that’s healing.
I should probably remember that more often than I do.
And I didn’t want to make dinner tonight so we played “Will It Waffle?” instead.
FYI, Diary, cheese sandwiches…
…and pumpkin bread…
…and scrambled eggs…
…and especially brownies…
…waffle very well. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ll never make brownies another way. They were UNBELIEVABLY DELICIOUS. The exact right middle ground between chewy and soft and crispy. The first time EVER we’ve all agreed — both those of us who are edge-of-the-pan people AND those of us who are middle-of-the-pan people. A shocking all-around victory.
On the other hand, pizza…
…and spaghetti and meatballs…
…and jelly beans?
Yeah, not so much.
It was a worthy experiment, though. I have no regrets. Although, I’m making Greg clean the waffle maker, so I’ll have to let you know later if he has any.
So, you know, Diary. It was a normal, sad, good day in quarantine. I felt helpless and helpful. Somber and ridiculous. Up and down. Happy and sad. Most of those at the same time, all day long.
It’s very Both/And around here these days, Diary.
And I suppose that’s fine.