Well, hello, mamas who are still choosing to stay mostly put with your babies these days. Those same babies that you have been relentlessly staring at, talking to, caring for, feeding (!), playing with, arguing with, etc., etc., so on and so forth since the middle of March.

We are past the point where the days are running together and we are now living in the oblivion of months that run together. How is it already August? How are we four months away from Christmas? How are my children about to turn two and five? How has it been this long since I have eaten inside a restaurant? How has it been this long since my babies have been to a playground?

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These questions are inevitably followed up by the more pertinent and pressing questions: How long has it been since I showered? How am I out of dry shampoo already? Did I give my kids a bath yesterday or the day before . . . or was it the day before that? How many PB&Js are too many? How are there this many dishes ALL the time? Can I really not just let myself go to aimlessly peruse the aisles at Target three times per week? Why did I take buying paper towels for granted?

Then there are the looming virtual school questions: how many more Zoom classes do I have to force my toddler to try to politely sit through? How many scavenger hunts am I supposed to do every week to prove that our family actually functions and can do fun things while learning? How many more times do I have to lock my screaming toddler out of the bedroom so that my older child can stand a chance of having a normal interaction with her teachers and classmates?

Some days seem to go on forever.

As of late, there are days where my toddler has tantrum after tantrum and clings to me every second of the day. Although somewhat endearing, this is also exhausting in every sense of the word. I am physically tired from toting my toddler around and both mentally and emotionally drained from trying to get even the most menial of tasks completed while trying to maintain my composure and practice continual empathy.

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This is all happening while my 4-year-old keeps requesting that I come play with her, as she feels she’s exhausted her limit on alone playtime for the time being.

Oh, and the dogs need to be walked and fed, with both children in tow. I almost forgot we have cats. They need to be fed, too.

There’s laundry in the washer from yesterday evening that needs to be rewashed and clothes in the dryer that have permanent wrinkles. Don’t even get me started on the furball tumbleweeds or the recurring pile of dishes in the sink. I seriously wash them, turn around, and there are more there than when I last blinked.

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I also have to come up with yet another dinner meal for someone to refuse to eat. Similar to how everyone has decided that they no longer like having any form of eggs for breakfast and wish to survive on muffins (chocolate chip, not the ultra healthy ones) or something equally void of much nutritional value.

All of these things are happening in realtime while simultaneously trying to ignore the looming cloud of the pandemic that hangs over, dictating our ability, or inability rather, to go places on a whim or find outside ways to break up the monotony or get the kids to stop whining or fighting for a little while.

The pressure and expectations are always there, but now we’re not just dealing with the expectations we have for ourselves as mothers.

We’re also dealing with the pressure and expectations from others, both perceived and real, as to how we should be interacting with the world at this point in time.

Tired of feeling like the bad guy when you have to tell someone that they can’t visit because of the activities they’ve been participating in?

Tired of making endless decisions and feeling like every single one of them is imperative to the health and well being of your family unit?

Tired of feeling like you’re the only one who’s not quite ready to go out or start to try to live life like it was before?

Tired of wondering if you’re crazy or overboard or being too overprotective?

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard even on the easiest days, no matter how many kids you have. Throw a pandemic into the mix and you’ve got a regular old recipe for isolation and insanity.

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At least before the pandemic, the choice to be social or not was more of an actual choice rather than a burden. We could stay home if we wanted or we could take the kids to playdates and playgrounds, to restaurants, to church, to gatherings for birthdays and other special celebrations.

Now it feels as though those days are long gone. Instead of options, we are just left with guilt. Guilt over saying no. Guilt over not taking our kids more places. Guilt over being the only one who is taking more precautions and moving slowly. Guilt over feeling tired of being with our kids 24/7 for years and years, I mean months and months, on end. We have been forced into a form of isolation, the kind that I personally struggled to steer clear of the second time around.

Even though we may be physically isolated these days, let these words serve as a reminder to you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, MOMMA.

There are other moms out there, too, who are not quite ready to resume life as we knew it. There are other moms out there who are still limiting interactions and visits. There are other moms out there who are still not comfortable taking their kids to public places.

And I’m here to tell you that wherever you are in your stance, IT IS FINE.

You may have lots of friends and family who are comfortable moving forward. And that is fine, too. You may have family or friends who are pressuring you to feel OK with moving forward and making decisions that you are not comfortable with and IT IS OK TO SAY NO.

We are all making the best decisions that we can for our families. We are all trying our hardest to do right by our children. You are not a bad mother for saying no, for not feeling comfortable, for choosing to err on the side of caution.

Need a support person that’s in the same place that you are? Message me.

Need someone to vent to about feeling frustrated with the whole situation of having to choose whether or not to let your kids interact with someone? Text me.

Tired of feeling like you need to justify yourself and every decision? I’m your girl.

These days of being a stay-at-home mom when often feeling forced to stay at home are for the birds.

And you are most certainly not in this alone.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Brooke Cate

I am a therapist turned stay-at-home mom to a spirited 4-year-old girl and a vivacious 1-year-old boy. Along with my husband, two dogs, and two cats, my littles are the loves of my life. The two of them are the reason that I love, gratefully embrace, and blindly stumble my way through the incredible world of motherhood. I can be found at https://www.musingsofacountrybumpkin.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Musings-of-a-Country-Bumpkin.