Friday, July 30, 2021

When moms lose their mojo and it's awesome

I dropped off school forms at the pediatrician's office the other day, which felt like a feat worthy of an Olympic gold medal. First of all, I remembered to do it. Second, the forms weren't even due for several weeks. Third, I actually made it out of the house. 

I had no illusions; it wasn't like I've gotten my mojo back. Just a few weeks before, I'd filled out the wrong birth year for our little guy in the online camp form, which I discovered when I called to ask why he wasn't in the group with his friends. 

I've lost my mojo. And it's been awesome.

Pre-pandemic, I was the typical nonstop working mom on a hamster wheel, mom keeping all the balls in the air, mom [insert whatever supermom cliche comes to mind]. I did great, as long as I never stopped—because everything would all fall apart, or so I thought. And then life as we knew it came to a grinding halt in March 2020. 

My work game stayed the same; my mom mojo was fully channeled into cleaning up and picking up after a family of five in the house all of the time, feeding them, keeping them safe and pondering how much TV would rot my children's brains. The GSD part of my brain entered survival mode; the part that stayed on top of schedules and forms, sign-ups for programs and getting kids to and from activities and playdates withered away because there was none of that.  

I had always been the type of person to stay up till midnight GSD-ing; now, I started crashing at around 10, zonked by the intensity of my days and anxiety over Covid. My usual drive to do things for my family and keep the house in order, uncluttered and fully working was consumed by keeping up with everything and accruing t.p., of course. I stopped caring about the bazillion little things I used to scramble to stay on top of, and just focused on existing. Made it through another day of virtual work, virtual learning and being cooped up with everyone? WIN. 

During our months of quarantining, I never found the time or motivation to do stuff like clean out the junk drawer, teach the children chess, adjust the wobbly mini trampoline in our basement, fix the grout peeling in a corner of the shower, organize the toys, get photos of Ben printed and hung (if you looked at our walls, you'd think we only had two children, not three), yada yada yada. Paperwork and clothes to give away piled up. Unlike seemingly everyone else I knew, I never even baked bread. (I have a long mental list of "If I didn't get around to it during the pandemic, I'm never gonna do it.") 

I was totally off my mojo, and so it's stayed. 

There's a bunch of mail lying on the kitchen counter
Old me: Open it before I crash.
New me: Lie on the sofa and watch The Crown.

We're running out of coffee pods/ketchup/seltzer/conditioner/tape____
Old me: Get it ASAP
New me: Get it at some point before we totally run out or soon after or let Dave deal or I guess we're just gonna run out.

My teen hasn't done her laundry in three weeks and her bedroom is a hot mess
Old me: Nag/do it for her.
New me:


That carry-on bag has been sitting in the foyer since Dave got home from a business trip
Old me: It would have been put away before it hit the floor.
New me: It's still there. 

Someone left the blender jar sitting in the dish rack with smoothie gunk on it
Old me: Clean it grumble-why-doesn't-anyone-else-notice-this-stuff-grumble-grumble-grumble.
New me: What should I binge-watch on Netflix next? 

The shrubs along our driveway are out of control

Old me: Squeeze in a trim at dusk and get eaten alive by mosquitoes.
New me: I could get used to that wild, overgrown look.

I bought a fairy garden kit for Ben a year ago
Old me: Feel guilty that I still haven't gotten around to putting it together with him
New me: 1) Stick it in the basement so it doesn't mock me 2) Reality check: He will never need therapy for that 3) "Want another ice pop?" 

There are five tubes of toothpaste open at once
Old me: "People! Why are there five tubes of toothpaste open at once?"
New me: [           ]

One of the recessed lights on the living room ceiling burned out
Old me: Replace the bulb the same day.
New me: Wave your hands in the air like you just don't care!

I'm pretty sure Max hasn't showered in three days
Old me: Bad mom. Bad, bad mom.
New me: I think I've read that's good for your skin? Or your hair? 

A groundhog has taken up residence under our shed
Old me: Get the pest control guy to relocate him.
New me: Look, guys, he's so cute!!!

Dave's towering pile o' t-shirts on his closet shelf is toppling over
Old me: Reorganize it grumble-why-can't-he-organize-it-grumble-grumble-grumble.
New me: Dave's towering pile o' t-shirts on his closet shelf is toppling over.

And you know what? My household is operating just fine, mainly because nobody else ever noticed most of this stuff except me. My family is fine—they have clean clothes, shoes that fit, food to eat, books to read, their favorite ice-cream. Me, I am doing more than fine: I'm less stressed and more well rested.

Turns out I don't need that exhausting and overwhelming go-go-go-get-it-all-done-now-now-now mentality for making our family and household function. Of course, there's still plenty of stress. But I'm not holding myself up to self-imposed standards of perfection nearly as often, struggling as much with parent performance anxiety or feeling compelled to tackle to-dos at 11:30 p.m.

Yesterday, I opened the fridge and saw a September expiration date on a milk carton. Typically, that fills me with dread—summer is ending soon, the back-to-school tornado will soon be upon us, yikes. But for once, I wasn't fazed. 

I spotted some milk residue on the shelf. 

I shut the door. 

Image: Getty Images



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