As I sit here tonight drinking my third vodka soda (don’t judge, it’s been a DAY), I reflect back on what a coworker of mine said today. A few of us were talking about our exercise goals while being quarantined and she mentioned how she hasn’t been able to workout as much as she would like.
She’s also a mom, I should mention.
She then said something that really stuck with me. She said although she really wanted to exercise more and usually would get upset with herself if she didn’t do it or missed a few days, she is learning during this pandemic that she can’t do it all. That her life has been flipped upside down and that right now especially, she just has to be ok with that. That she is doing the best she can, she is adjusting her priorities, and doing just enough to get by.
And that right there made me realize how it’s quite possible that this time of crisis, this time where we are quarantined with our kids and significant others and can’t go do our usual activities, may actually be helping us realize that this so-called “mom guilt” and “mental overload” we deal with on a daily basis may not need to be as crippling as it was before.
As moms, we are so used to feeling guilty if we don’t get everything done, if we don’t take care of everything, if we don’t “do it all” or be everything to everybody. Yet, that is what that mental overload is comprised of – the thoughts that go through our head all day, every day. “Did I remember to add milk to the grocery list?” “Oh crap, today is my SIL’s birthday and I forgot to get her a gift. Must add that to my to-do list.” “Did my son watch too much screen time today?” “I need to schedule our family’s dental appointments. I keep forgetting to do that” “Did I text Lisa/Melissa/Karen/Joann back? Ugh, why am I so bad at texting people back? “Did I confirm the babysitter for tomorrow’s date night?“
The thoughts, the to-do list, the guilt…never ends!
So maybe, just maybe, since we are quarantined and aren’t able to do as much as we would usually do (or have to do!), we are starting to realize that we don’t have to beat ourselves up for forgetting things or not getting everything done. That we are starting to realize we CAN’T do it all. That so much of what we thought we HAD to do, we don’t ACTUALLY have to.
AND THAT’S OK.
What a concept right? Being ok with letting go of our own expectations we set (and truthfully that society and prior generations has set to some degree). Not stressing about being a perfect mom or wife or having a perfect house. Giving ourselves grace on the days we fall short of getting our to-do list done or not meeting our goals.
We can do this when we realize what’s truly important in life. Spending quality time with our loved ones, not rushing through life but rather being present in each moment, enjoying what is meaningful rather than meaningless, and taking time to reevaluate our priorities. Being quarantined, being physically distant, and going through a pandemic, is helping many of us realize that.
I’m sure for many moms, we’ve just simply “accepted” this guilt and mental overload, but I believe that this time we are in can show us that we don’t need to accept it anymore. That it doesn’t have to be our “normal.” That we don’t have to be burdened and weighed down with the never-ending guilt and million thoughts going through our head all day.
So, let’s take a lesson from this time and be like my co-worker, who is realizing that sometimes just simply getting by is enough…and that’s ok.