I’m no stranger to feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. In my life, I’ve carried emotional baggage. Lots of it. But never quite this heavy.

I wake up and my daughter asks, “Will I go to preschool today, Mama?”

“Not today.” And I don’t have the heart to tell her maybe not this year.

She asks, “Can we go to the playground?”

“Not today.” And I can’t bring myself to express my uncertainty on if it will ever open again.

RELATED: This is the New Mental Load of Motherhood

Later while reading her books she asks, “Can we go to storytime at the library?”

“Not today.” I try to engage her in an online storytime knowing well enough she won’t be as intrigued without Ms. Laura’s usual funny story-telling antics.

Before I start making lunch she asks, “Can we go to eat at the play-place?”

“Not today.” As I attempt to explain to her that we’ll be eating our chicken nuggets at home for some time to come.

I notice we are out of milk and, out loud, remind myself I need to go to the store.

Madelyn says, “Can I go with you?”

“Not today.” As I wonder if she’ll even remember a time she entered a store when this is over. 

Getting ready for a pediatrician appointment and prepping my daughter for wearing her mask. She says, “Can I please go without it, Mama?”

“Not today.” I bribe her so she’ll put it on without a fight. 

I’m laying her down for a nap and she asks, “Can we go see my friends after rest?”

“Not today.” I don’t let her see just how much that one stung. Just how much I need to see my friends as well. 

I fill the day with as much fun, laughter, and happiness as I can. But I’m exhausted. 

RELATED: None of Us Know What To Do Right Now and It’s Exhausting

I lay her down at night and pray that maybe tomorrow, we’ll wake up from this nightmare.

I count my blessings. The roof over my head, the health of my family, the financial stability we are so lucky to have, the food on our table. But I give myself grace. 

I’ve never carried a weight this heavy.

I cry thinking about the time before this. 

The time when I shared in my daughter’s excitement about preschool and spoke about all the amazing things she’d get to do this fall.

The time when going to the playground was the best part of the day.

The time when attending storytime at the library was part of our weekly routine. And watching her listen to the books with 20 other children made my day.

The time when I’d get to chat with my friend over a chicken salad while our toddlers ran and played in the play-place and stopped occasionally for a bite of their lunch.

The time when walking through the store hand-in-hand with my toddler was something that brought me tons of joy. 

The time when she’d wave and speak to everyone in the pediatrician’s office freely.

The time when our days were filled with playdates with her friends and adult interaction for me. 

RELATED: There Are No ‘Right’ Decisions About School This Year So Please Just Be Kind

These things that took place just a few months ago seem like a lifetime away now. I lie awake for hours pondering all the possibilities of what the next months will bring.  All the hard decisions we have to make. All the things we’ll have to attempt to explain to our toddler who we know won’t understand.

I’m constantly teetering between grieving the “before” and anxious about the “now.”

If you find a mama who doesn’t seem like herself, give her grace. Give her patience. Let her show her emotions. Support her. Let her know she’s not alone. 

She’s never carried a weight this heavy before.

Kayleigh Ake

Kayleigh Ake is a former educator turned wife and stay-at-home-mom of two. Her blog, The Minimalistic Mama, features her journey and experiences through motherhood while living minimalistically. Kayleigh is passionate about mental health, iced coffee, and exploring nature.