When you wake up in the morning, what is your first thought? Some of my go-to’s are, “How is it morning already?” “Seriously, it’s 5am.” “Ok, ok, but first, coffee.” Or simply, “again?” I’m not a grumpy person, but I’m definitely a tired person. My level of fatigue varies from day to day – how many times did the kids’ wake up, how many times did I readjust my sleeping position, how many times did I hear my husband move around – I mean, honestly, my FitBit’s “Fair” sleep score says it all. But besides my erratic mommy sleep patterns, the past couple of years have contributed to a wide array of emotions first thing in the morning. Yes, I wake up with gratitude and joy. And yes, I also wake up worried, wearied, and weeping.
As a stay-at home mom of three little dudes (5, 4, and 2), the gamut of emotions that flood my inbox are intense. My kids express their emotions in BIG ways, which can sometimes short-circuit a “feeler” such as myself. But it’s not just the kids, and it’s not just motherhood, and it’s not just me. Everyone on this planet has been put through the wringer this past year, and our body’s sympathetic nervous system has been on high alert for way longer than is natural. Nerd alert! The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our fight or flight response – and in 2020, it clocked in a lot of overtime. Although life temporarily slowed due to the pandemic, it must also move forward. It’s basic math, really. Pandemic stress + modern, daily life stress = ALL THE FEELS.
How this stress plays out looks different for everyone. My vibe is “mom trying to manage and maintain balance in my family’s day-to-day home life/hold down the fort/just keep breathing/don’t lose your shit” – catchy, no? For my husband, it’s trying to handle the demands and pressures of a new job, while supporting said wife & family (see above). For my kids, it’s pinging from giddy “Don’t Stop Me Now” Sonic the Hedgehog level energy to full-on “threenager” behavior, complete with eye rolls, “Ughhh, I’m so bored,” and sibling bickering. For our Texan neighbors, it’s how the hell do we endure during freak snow storms and power outages? For the parents who continue to navigate full-time jobs + extended school closures, it’s trying to juggle it all. For the friend whose caseload has increased ten-fold since COVID, it’s how do I keep going way beyond burnout? For the stranger who shoves a bag of M&Ms and an iPhone at her kid, it’s how do I navigate the aisles of the grocery store before a meltdown? Stress is everywhere, all the time, and compounded for everyone.
Regardless of your situation, or how the pandemic has affected you, we have all been rocked to our core. Maybe it doesn’t seem that way, and maybe it’s too idealistic to think everyone has taken what’s happened in our world to heart. But with over 500,000 Americans lives’ lost, there has been a humanistic awakening, at least on some level. Life can change on a dime, and how we cope is perhaps the greatest revelation, the greatest determinate of what happens next.
Sometimes I struggle with knowing how I can help myself or those around me to deal with all this stress during these crazy times. At the very least, I try to meet myself and others where they’re at. I try to understand. Mainly, I try to listen. I try really hard to listen to that little voice inside my head, that divine presence that guides me through the darkness. And, I also try really hard to listen to the people around me not to be a problem solver or a fixer, but a tried and true listener. Listening to another soul without judgement, without ego, and without personal gain is truly a beautiful expression of our humanness.
Maybe you worry too much, maybe you’re wearied and bone-achingly exhausted, and maybe you’re on the verge of screaming rage and tears. Don’t worry – me too. But, let’s try to cut ourselves’ some slack. Try to show ourselves’ kindness. Let’s keep lifting each other up, let’s keep listening.
You Got This,