The Unsung Heroes of COVID: Moms!

There are many amazing people that have been behind the scenes making everything work during this pandemic and not getting recognition. All of the essential farm workers and low wage workers to name a few. Something we need to talk about more though is the unforeseen burden that has fallen on the shoulders of so many moms.

When COVID started many moms had to start working from home and caring for their kids at the same time. Mothers were forced to do the impossible, remain dedicated to their work and manage their children and their children’s education, if their kids were in school. This created a very challenging and impossible reality. As a result, a lot of moms left the workforce completely, unable to juggle all that was required of them from work and home life.

On the news this morning they said of those who left the workforce in 2020, 80% were women! That is a startling statistic and scary for the fate of women and their place in the workforce. This is after years of women finally making strides towards equality in the workplace. Of course, there is still a pay gap among women and men in similar roles especially BIPOC women. Also, BIPOC women are still fighting for a seat at the leadership table. Now, we are losing so many of those amazing women from the workforce.

This makes me so sad. Women already face so many challenges and barriers when it comes to choosing to be a working mother or needing to be a working mother to support their families. Now, many low wage working women have been laid off and women in higher wage jobs are forced to juggle caring for/teaching their children and simultaneously meeting their work deadlines.

We live in a society where before COVID, women who wanted to work couldn’t let their personal lives interfere with their performance. Today, we are all seeing into each other’s homes and it is humanizing the women we work with, but it is also showing us the tragic truth that women are struggling to keep their heads above water. In the background of every Zoom meeting, there is a baby crying, a kid whining about virtual school, or a toddler nagging their mom for a snack.

Moms are overwhelmed, overworked, and over it! Moms can’t catch a break. While single women brag on social media about their latest workout challenge and the sweater they knitted, moms scroll through their feeds on the toilet while their kid chomps at their feet and they sob into their cold coffee. Moms need our help right now.

As schools start to reopen, there will be a lot of moms who feel lost and are unsure about how to reenter the workforce. I personally had a very rough year, but nothing compared to all the moms forced to become their children’s teacher on top of working from home.

When COVID started a year ago, I had just started back at work after a 2.5 month maternity leave. I wasn’t ready to go back to the office full time and was feeling overwhelmed and very emotional leaving my baby. I went back to the office for three weeks, then the pandemic forced me to work from home full time.

In some ways, this was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t have to use a caregiver I didn’t know and I could be with my baby. In other ways, this increased my Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Before the pandemic, I was meeting up with a group of moms weekly for social and emotional support. Then quarantine cut me off from that lifeline. I felt isolated from a support system that I had become so dependent upon for my mental wellbeing.

My postpartum depression got worse and worse the more time I spent isolated at home with my son. I am a social person and need to interact with other adults consistently to feel happy. Instead, I spent days at home in a row without seeing anyone but my son and husband. I also had to continue trying to work as my son became more mobile and more needy.

I felt like I couldn’t commit 100% of my attention to work or to caring for my son and thus felt a constant feeling like I was failing. I didn’t communicate this to most of my friends, but I was so miserable. I know this became the reality for many mothers during the pandemic.

I felt so much guilt for being torn in so many directions and never having the energy to keep up with any of it. I took many a Zoom meeting with my son bouncing on my knee crying or with my camera off so I could nurse my son in the middle of a meeting. My husband who worked from home for three months then returned to the office full time, just didn’t get it.

He thought I was lucky to be working from home and spending time with our baby. Instead, I got resentful towards him for being able to leave the house everyday and interact with other adults. This put a huge strain on our marriage and left me feeling like a failure yet again as a wife. I felt I could not win.

Therapy, meditation, and the eventual coming of summer weather brought back some of my sanity. Being able to leave the house and meet up with friends especially mom friends outside helped immensely. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Unfortunately, this only lasted until the weather turned again in October.

I say this all to just acknowledge that 2020 was a rough year for everyone, but especially for moms. Even stay at home moms that weren’t also working had to give up their usual social activities that kept them sane. We all had to bear a heavy burden this past year, and it seems like an upward battle to get back to normal.

I recently decided to switch jobs so that I could afford childcare, just so I could work. It seems silly and my husband thought so too, but I feel so much happier now. I can do my work freely without the added stress of chasing my son around the house. I can also go into an office when I’m itching to have adult conversations and see other humans. Despite all of this I have that nagging mom guilt in the back of my mind telling me I am neglecting my child. Honestly, women just can’t win!!

I just want all the moms out there to know they aren’t alone in this! I hear you and I feel where you are coming from. You’re a great mom no matter what you’ve chosen to do- leave your job, stay at your job, reduce your hours, or find a new job and send your kid to daycare. You are all rockstars and I hope we can all just realize that and know no matter how many times we cried this year, that we are strong badass women that were dealt a tough hand.

What is your covid mom story? I’m hear to listen even if you just need to vent.

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