Everything feels a lot at the moment, especially in Motherhood, and because I am super productive (read: have to work way ahead of myself in one short burst because hello, motherhood) I am writing this towards the end of January 2021, despite the fact that you will be reading it towards the end of February. At the time of writing we’re currently in a national lockdown in the UK (and I don’t expect much will have changed by the time this is published either, although I hope beyond hope things are at least heading in the right direction) and this one is different. This is our third national lockdown and I don’t know if it’s because it is the third one, because it is January and miserable or because there is nothing to look forward to but this one feels harder.
Some times it feels fine, sometimes it feels hard but one thing is for sure, I know that for a long time I have been putting myself last. I don’t think my story is in isolation though so I thought I would come on and spill my brain into this post, and try and work out why us mothers are shouldering so much of the burden of this pandemic when it comes to keeping everyday life going.
It began in 2020
The last year of our lives has been a weird one for us all and I don’t even know if we’re even processing quite what we’re all living through. A lot of it seems like survival mode and maybe it’s something we will truly come to terms with once it is all over.
There is one thing I have noticed though, both in my own life, in my friends lives, in the lives of people I know online and that is the untold burden of motherhood through a pandemic.
Changes, Changes, Changes
For me the biggest change has been my career. It’s been the oddest time because I was due to come off of maternity leave in late February/early March, so I timed it just right in terms of the pandemic kicking off. I didn’t even really know what I was coming off of maternity leave for if I am honest. My career in Social Media Management and Personal Brand Strategy was something I actually thought I had left behind when I clocked off for the last time in December 2018. I wanted to do something but I wasn’t sure what. Then I didn’t really get time to think because hello, Pandemic! My husbands job at first didn’t seem safe and it was an incredibly worrying time, so I jumped back into what I knew and went for it, pedal to the metal.
Thankfully his job situation did improve although with the ongoing pandemic although it worries me often. I don’t think any of us can truly feel comfortable right now. He is the breadwinner in our home and it’s been even more important throughout the last year that we have that safety. As time passed the need changed somewhat, and without the ability for too much help with childcare I found my work having to take a backseat. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t overly minded because it wasn’t something I was intending to come back to but I feel better when I have something else to occupy my mind. Being a stay at home mum right now isn’t through choice, it’s through necessity and it is here that lies the untold burden of motherhood.
Motherhood and the Pandemic
Mothers taking the slack, having to sit in a more supportive role (some by choice, others by need), having to decide between working or staying home, crisis schooling their children some while trying to hold down full time and part time jobs, some still having bosses to answer to and deadlines to meet, being refused furlough on childcare grounds and in situations like ours knowing that the breadwinners salary and work has to come first in such a precarious situation. This doesn’t even touch on those who are working in key worker roles, on the front line throughout this pandemic. As well as the mothers (first time and subsequent) who are experiencing pregnancy and birth through it too. The burden is heavy and we are taking the toll.
Now I know this won’t be everyone’s truth, but it is the truth of many, and it’s become a well-known fact that women (and particularly mothers) are bearing the brunt of this pandemic more than anyone else.
Working mum to stay at home mum (and not through choice)
For me it’s been a strange transition from always doing something and needing something for my sanity to having to switch to being a full time stay at home mum. It’s a strange switch for me and although I have no pressure from my husband I am extremely mindful of the situation of the pandemic and how I need to support what he needs in his job. His salary is the difference and right now it has to come first. My switch from working mum to stay at home mum (well almost, I am still winding a few bits up) has been difficult for me and it is definitely an adjustment, especially being pregnant too, knowing that maternity leave is awaiting.
It can feel really heavy
Mothering and motherhood through a pandemic, I’ve found, can feel unrelenting. It is full-on at the best of times, but it is now spending more time than ever confined within four walls. It is parenting without our village and it is making hard decisions and sometimes sacrificing ourselves for what needs to be done for the good of our family.
I don’t have the answers, I don’t know why we are taking the brunt of it and I don’t know how we make things change. I do know though that this won’t last forever and I just hope when all is said and done we remember that no matter how hard, isolating and unbearable it felt at times that we made it through the otherside. And there is another side, even if it doesn’t quite feel that way yet.
You’re doing great, even if it doesn’t feel that way, I promise that you are.