A Full Time Working Mom’s Day During Pandemic
6:27am My two year old, E, wakes up by saying “Mommy, mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy!” until I get out of bed (after sleeping just three hours because hello anxiety) and go into her room. I get her diaper changed without bothering to change her into real clothes. I bring E into our bedroom and turn on some Sesame Street in the hopes that she will watch in bed with us, and I can keep my eyes closed for just a little longer.
6:38am No such luck. E is running around the bedroom getting into all sorts of things she shouldn’t be. I should have known. I guess I’m up for the day. I take E downstairs and we play with blocks and her chalkboard.
8:00am Breakfast time. I make some eggs, toast, and fresh fruit for E. I drink a diet coke because there are no rules now.
8:42am I kiss E goodbye and head upstairs to my office to try to get some work done. She’s in good hands with my husband, but she has a meltdown because she wants me to stay with her. I can hear her screaming downstairs, but my husband is doing his best to distract her. It breaks my heart, but I have about a 3 hour window to get as much work done as possible before lunch time.
10:23am E runs into my office as I’m in a Zoom meeting. She sits in my lap for a while, and the people in the meeting think she is pretty cute. A few minutes later, she’s bored and starts coloring with markers she found in my desk. I’m distracted by the meeting and don’t see that she’s moved from coloring on paper to coloring on my desk, the window sill, and the window itself. I put myself on mute and call for my husband to come get her because I can’t deal with it right now. I guess he can’t hear me because he doesn’t come. I feel myself getting annoyed, and I don’t know how to handle the situation. I need to pay attention to the meeting, but I can’t with her coloring all over everything. After what seems like forever, my husband comes in and grabs her. Predictably, she starts screaming, but at least she isn’t destroying my desk?
11:35am The meeting is over, so I run downstairs to put together some lunch for E. She munches away happily. I feel guilty because instead of engaging with her, I’m responding to emails on my phone. She tries to grab my phone saying “All mine!” in an attempt to get my attention. I’m the worst because I’m annoyed with her, but I really should be talking to her. I put the phone down as I hear it dinging with Slack messages from my coworkers. I take a deep breath. It can wait a minute…probably.
12:30pm E is down for her nap, and I make myself a sandwich and eat it quickly while doing some work. This time while E is napping is my best shot at getting through my to do list. I need to write a few things, so I put on some music and get to work.
12:58pm I’m interrupted when my friend sends me an article about Coronavirus. The article does not give me any hope that our lockdown will end on June 10. We might be stuck at home, trying to parent and work full time, for much longer than that. I’m now fully in my feels and have a hard time shifting my focus back to work. I try my best, but my mind is racing, worrying about family and friends getting sick, how the tanking economy will impact my job, if I’m doing a good enough job balancing work and parenting, and how I will possibly keep this up for another week, much less another two months or more. I don’t get through my to do list.
2:32pm E is awake and the activities I hoped would keep her entertained for at least two hours have been exhausted. On to plan B. We get dressed and go out for a walk, play with bubbles outside, and run around for a bit.
3:04pm While I’m outside with E, I get a text from my boss asking where an assignment is. The answer is that I just didn’t do it. I don’t have a good excuse, I just forgot about it in all of the chaos. I apologize, and we make a plan to get it done. I bring E inside with me and turn on Sesame Street, or “Elmo! Elmo!” as she calls it, again so I can hopefully sit in front of my computer and get it done as quickly as possible.
4:55pm My husband decides he’s done working for the day. He comes downstairs and takes over hanging out with E so that I can focus on dinner. Except that E has been very into cooking lately and she wants to stand in her learning tower and help me chop vegetables. I get her set up with her toddler safe knife in an area that is far enough away from the actual knife that I don’t have to worry about it. This works fine until it’s time to start cooking the vegetables on the gas stove and E wants to help with that part too. I don’t let her because I’m not trying to add an emergency room trip to my day, but of course she has a total meltdown again. My husband tries to distract but to no avail.
7:03pm E is finally in bed. I can hear her babbling to herself over the monitor but whatever. Mama is done with today. Except I’m not because I have to open up my laptop and do the work I wasn’t able to get done earlier today. I do not want anything else to fall through the cracks.
9:17pm I decide to call it a night. I get in bed and turn on some trash TV to distract myself from all of the craziness. It doesn’t work. Instead, I think about how tough things have been for the last month. How I’m barely able to get my work done, and how I feel like I’m not doing enough enriching activities to teach my kid things. I can’t do what her daycare teachers do while also trying to get work done.
Then I think about how tough it must be for people who are getting sick or losing loved ones to this horrible virus. I think about the grocery store workers, home healthcare workers, delivery drivers, and so many others who have to go to work every day and risk their health and put their family at risk in order to make sure the rest of us have what we need. I think about the millions of people who have lost their jobs and have no income, but whose bills keep rolling in. I realize how very lucky I am. Everything is hard for me right now, but I’m definitely among the privileged. My family is safe. No one I know is sick. My job is secure for now. My husband’s job is secure for now. Our bosses are both allowing us to work flexible hours so we can take shifts working and parenting. My husband and I are working together as best we can, and the stress of everything hasn’t taken a toll on our relationship. Honestly, we’re super lucky, and I take a moment to be grateful for all of that.
Then, I get mad because I know that if our President had responded better to this crisis, hadn’t wasted a month hoping the virus just wouldn’t come here, hadn’t defunded pandemic response, and had a plan for widespread testing and getting doctors and frontline workers the PPE they need, we would be in much different place right now. If all of that were different, leaving our houses soon might actually be a possibility. The death toll would be lower and thousands of people wouldn’t be mourning their loved ones now.
I know thousands of people have stories of being on the frontlines and how difficult it is to go to work and serve our community without the protections they need. I know there are people who were sick and weren’t able to get tested because of Trump’s inability to start a widespread testing program. If you are one of those people and would be willing to share your story in video to be shared on social media, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need to counter the message that everything is fine and that this crisis is overblown. It isn’t and there are thousands of people who could share that story and counter these protesters who are putting all of us in danger. Please email me today and we can get your story recorded!