OK. I’m going to write a post that I’ve wanted to write for months. I am writing now in my new space while the sun at my window cheers me on. You might not love it.
I read another quote about mothers and how impossible the past year has been for us. So true. This morning I read this quote, from Betsey Stevenson, an economist at U of Michigan.
“People talk about how moms can lift a car off their children, but even though you can do it, it doesn’t mean you didn’t do damage to your body when lifting the car. 2020 was like lifting a car off your kid; 2021 is going to be ‘How are those women able to heal?'”
This is where I hear myself saying OK in John Oliver’s voice. It’s also forcing me to take a very deep breath. In no way am what I am to write discrediting anything that mothers have been through this year. In no way! Of course not. It’s been beyond the worst. Again, of course.
But. And here I’ll first take another deep breath. By the time the first NYT articles about the hell mothers were going through began circulating everywhere on social media, I had never felt so alone. Because if I’m being honest, what mothers were experiencing starting last March, I had been going through for years. Alone. With zero validation, or support, or a voice other than some posts here and on instagram that – if I’m honest – were always the posts that got the fewest amount of likes.
Mothers of children with special needs have lived quietly and alone, giving up jobs and social lives for a long time. But when I ever tried to speak out, I know people saw me as a whiner, ugh, what now? Before the pandemic, my son – as most know – was hit with the worst anxiety I could imagine, and fast, like he’d been skipping across a street and then hit by a speeding truck. Five years later, we are all still recovering from just that trauma, the whiplash. Life changed for him and for us overnight, literally.
We lost friends, I had to go on sick leave, eventually giving up a job I loved and had worked long and hard to get. As the mom, my job had to be the one we let go because it paid so much less than my husbands’ – sounds familiar, right? The writing projects I’d been working on went up in smoke. There was never a minute to myself and honestly, it was a two parent job, Scott worked from home whenever he could. There were no New York Times articles to fuel me, no bread tutorials, no time for netflix or neighbourhood self-distanced bbqs. No fun takeout or picnics, my son wouldn’t eat. No hikes in the sunny woods because he couldn’t leave the house, still can’t lots of days. There was no time for self-care or any thoughts of what I might need to heal let alone just be well. We didn’t leave the house for months except for doctor’s appointments, we missed our families, there was no school although we tried, every single day. Schools threw their hands up in the air early on and suggested homeschooling which wasn’t an option for us. We were lonely.
So, of course, everyone is suffering this year – of course. And I sincerely hope my readers know me well enough by now and don’t think I’m minimizing that. We still know how lucky we are, our troubles are still so much less that others – money isn’t a huge worry and we know how to advocate for our children, and we do. And we’re happy people, I think that’s one reason why others are able to push us away. Oh, they’re fine. But when this is over, the effects will go on for who knows how long. But getting back to normal – the afterwards – doesn’t look that different for us and I’m afraid we’ll be left behind again.
I’ve been biting my tongue not to write this and the reason the quote above finally propelled me to do so was these thoughts of after covid. My son it doing much better than 5 years ago, no question, life is different and we do takeouts and treats and all the good things. We will go on holidays again and see family. But we don’t know about school an we constantly are needing to adjust what we thought our future might look like. I have more time to write now but I’m years behind where I wish I was – I feel often like I’ll never catch up and am seen as just a wannabe. I have to idea when I’ll be able to go back to work/write full-time. And it’s fine, this isn’t about me complaining. I’m not, I’m good.
But I’ve been alone, and I’m sure there are so many other mothers of kids who have been doing some sort of hybrid online/in class mess for years before this hit. Mothers who were already struggling so much with no end in sight. And hopefully now that online school is a thing, it might be easier to help kids learn from home through the board. Who knows.
This isn’t a complaint or a cry for for help. Just another voice telling another side of the story.