What am I missing?
Those words ran through my head tonight as I scrolled social media, looking at the posts scattered across my timeline.
“We finished our entire summer reading list already!” a post from a dear friend read, complete with a photo of stacked books for reference.
“Making tonight’s dinner!” another caption said, with a photo of a friend’s precious, apron-clad daughters smiling beside her in the kitchen.
“Look!” my niece had sent on Messenger kids, accompanied by a photo of the three ducklings and eight baby chicks they had added to their brood—a lesson in responsibility and love.
I thought back to our day, how mediocre it was.
I had led no activities, there hadn’t been any grand teaching moments. I surely hadn’t found time to relax or pick up any of the books collecting dust on my bedside table.
And I couldn’t help but wonder—what am I missing? What am I doing wrong that I can’t make the most of this situation and “enjoy every moment” of it when other families are living it up?
Phone in hand, I felt the weight of guilt pressing into my shoulders.
Have you felt it, too?
The nudge to do more, be more, with this time that’s been handed (OK, shoved) our way.
Comparison on a normal day is a beast, but comparison during quarantine? It’s downright brutal.
It’s too easy to get sucked into the realm of social media and walk out feeling like you’re failing your family.
But mama—If you take one thing to heart today, let it be this: you have enough on your plate right now. Don’t add guilt, too.
It may seem like every other mom in the world is channeling her inner Mary Poppins, but I promise there’s so much you don’t see.
There’s a mom whose anxiety has been sky-high.
There’s a mom who struggles to get out of bed most mornings.
There’s a mom going over her bank account again and again, wondering how her family will make it through after suddenly losing the income they depended on.
There’s a mom who can’t wait until this is all a distant memory.
There’s a mom who is doing this alone while her doctor husband works endless hours.
And even still, these moms are picking themselves up, splashing water across their faces, and tending to real life—fixing snacks, kissing owies, and teaching Algebra with forced smiles on their faces.
They’re doing it.
You’re doing it.
I’m doing it.
We’re doing it.
We’re doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt. All of us.
So whether you’re a mom who’s savoring this pause or one who’s desperate for life to return to the way it was . . .
Whether you’re following color-coded homeschool schedules or tapping out by 9:30 a.m. each day . . .
Whether you’re ordering takeout for dinner every night or teaching your kids how to cook . . .
Whether you’re ecstatic about the extra time with your school-aged kids or mourning the loss of a personal routine you held dear . . .
Whether you’re thriving or merely surviving or somewhere in between . . .
However it is that you and your family are coping right now is OK—because even more important than productivity or enjoyment is the fact that you are indeed coping. Somehow. Some way.
It may not always be smooth.
It may not always be consistent.
There may be a lot of lost tempers and screentime and apologies and try-agains.
There will almost certainly be lots of coffee and ice cream to manage the rollercoaster of emotions.
But you are not wrong for feeling how you feel, and you certainly are not a bad mother for doing whatever it is you need to get by.
So please, please, stop comparing yourself to the world around you and piling guilt on top of everything else.
This situation is new to all of us, and we’re finding our way through it day-by-day.
That means we owe ourselves loads and loads of grace—even more than usual.
Our main goal right now should be to get to the other side of this with the physical and mental health of us and our loved ones intact. The rest is icing on the cake.
Love well, do your best, and give yourself permission to breathe.
Be kind to yourself . . . you deserve that now more than ever. We all do.