I was sitting by our back porch door, trying to have a grown-up conversation with my husband:
“I just . . .”
“Mom! Can I have some orange juice?!”
“Just a minute,” I said to my son. I tried starting the sentence again. “I’m just wondering . . .”
“Mom! May I have some water, please?” my oldest daughter chimed in.
“Yes. Wait just a moment.” I said, flatly.
A third try. “I just wonder if there’s a different way . . .”
I didn’t care who it was this time. My throat tightened and I could feel frustration rising in me. This was my new reality as a parent, trying to squeeze everything in. This was me attempting to have an impromptu conversation with my husband, while also being attentive to my three children, while also finding time to do dishes and laundry and feed the humans under my roof. Somewhere in there, work needed to happen. I was grateful to still have a job, and yet was finding diminishing capacity – both physically and emotionally – to do it. Our kids were needing more of me as the weeks passed, not less. Without their daily rhythms of school and social activities, and without their friends as a source of joy and connection, my husband and I were the only humans that could comfort them and hug them and give them opportunities for play and rest.
You know what I didn’t just mention? Self-care. All the permission I’d received and given myself to put my own “oxygen mask”? Non-existent. Yes, a nap would be nice. Of course I’d like to work out every day at the same time like I used to. Obviously I’d like an uninterrupted shower and time to be with my friends and start a new hobby.