Momming

I’m losing my hair. And, while in the grand scheme of things, this is minor, it’s also not.

We’ve all seen them. The articles about how moms are suffering. A New York Times article headline recently read – in a large, matter-of-fact font –  “America’s Mothers are in Crisis”. Women are leaving the workforce in droves. Women are losing their jobs at rates epically higher than men. And I imagine those of us who are left, are trying desperately – by a hair one might say –  to hang on. To our sanity. Our mental health. Our demeanor. Our jobs. Our families. Our lives, really. 

We are in crisis. 

And yet, nothing. Nothing has really changed.

A year ago, I started a new job. Three weeks later, we went remote. Today, I’m a shadow of that woman who excitedly accepted the offer. And yet, I log on to work every day and put on a happy face. I sit stoic on my calls when I’m interrupted, talked over and completely ignored by my counterparts – whom even after a year, are strangers. I sit and smile politely in all my meetings as my kids ask me questions about their own Zoom calls or try to tell me animal facts about the book they’re reading for class; Moments that a year ago I would have embraced, I ignore now. I show up every day, all day to my meetings and ask how others are doing when they don’t seem particularly invested in how I’m doing. I show up every day and gracefully absorb dismissive men, arbitrary feedback and other people’s bad days. But still, I show up. 

And even though every night before I go to sleep I wonder if tomorrow will be the day that I can’t do it anymore and become a stat in the crisis, I still show up. I show up and I listen and learn and I stare into my Zoom at my thinning hair line that no one else will notice.

Last week, the results of my annual review were released. I sat on my island of one and read comment after comment about how I was too quiet and not quite where I should be, I followed along as twenty-some of my “peers” came to the conclusion that I must not be hungry enough. I never thought I’d experience almost everything that happened this year, but this one somehow took the cake. 

For someone who – for all the obvious reasons – wanted to set her hair on fire for an entire year, who almost lost her husband to alcoholism more than once, who – in all seriousness – wondered regularly between meetings what would happen if she jumped off the roof and still showed up every day, empathetic, kind and hell bent on doing her work, it never once occurred to me that my survival mode could be interpreted as complacent. Any other year, I would have known better – and I would have cared. 

But everyone didn’t only agree that I wasn’t hungry enough, they also agreed I was honest, nice, humble and thankful. And there within lies the bitter truth, I am quiet and I am struggling to prioritize work. But, day in and day out, I am endlessly thankful – especially this year – and I’ve been kind and understanding, even when people didn’t deserve it. And, more so, I’ve – like moms do – made it a point to be sure I show care and empathy before I do all the things a woman has to do to climb the proverbial ladder. And I’ve watched as moms around the world are do the same.

Moms in crisis are still moms and that’s part of the crisis, too.

This morning, a friend texted me a separate article from The Times. The headline read, “It’s Not Your Imagination: The Pandemic Is Making Your Hair Fall Out”. It reminds me of those early days postpartum. Defined by hair loss, strong waves of depression, learning how to function on no sleep, with your heart walking around outside your body, wanting nothing but to make sure your humans knew you were there and they were safe. Learning how to give all of ourselves so they could grow and become. In those early days, the world seemed a little more uncertain than it ever had, my brain was suddenly rearranged and caring was my purpose and way of survival all in one. The similarities are eerie. 

Most days, this feels like the last straw of a very long year. Other days, it feels ridiculously like the last leg of the journey through the desert for Khaleesi and soon we will all walk into the fire, reckoned to become. The optimist in me – hanging on by, quite literally, a hair – is convinced it’s the latter. The rest of me, in true mom fashion, is too depleted to care. 

Child on a computer

In the midst of something I never thought I’d experience – something I never thought to even think about whether or not I’d experience – I mostly just sit and I think. It’s been almost a year of isolation now and if you can name it, I’ve thought about it. In fact, I haven’t just […]

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Two young boys on a dock

I’ve never really had trouble with my bowels, specifically in the #2 department. I guess it’s just one of the few things that’s come naturally to me in life and, my god, what a blessing it is. Bot has always had trouble pooping and by “trouble” I mean the kid cannot shit on a regular […]

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Two kids on a hayrack ride

I almost saw a child die in a corn pit, brought home a child with two black lungs and spent a thousand dollars on Friday night. Where, you ask? Oh, you know where.  The pumpkin patch. Pumpkin Patch /ˈpəm(p)kən paCH/ noun: pumpkin patch; plural noun: pumpkin patches A farm with broken tractors dressed up as […]

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4-year old holding a sign that reads: Will I be next? at a March for Our Lives

Before Matty started Kindergarten his elementary school hosted an open house. The school building was brand new and it was beautiful. It smelled like fresh paint, sawdust and window cleaner. I couldn’t have been more impressed. As we walked out of the school, all of our minds buzzing with anticipation and excitement, I couldn’t help […]

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Child fishing in the fog, by a lake

You know when you haven’t done something for a really long time and you decide to start doing it again? It’s a process I think has been referred to as “getting your sea legs back”. Well, I don’t think I’ve ever officially had sea legs but here I am, trying to get them back. Since […]

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Today is one of those days. One of those milestone days. The ones that make you stop and appreciate the little bits of baby still left on your preschooler’s face, the fine babyish creases in their small (but suddenly big) hands, the still wonderfully innocent smell of sunscreen and sweat that emanates from their still […]

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HOLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY SHIT. Let me get my emotions in check here. FUCK. HOLY SHIT. JEEEE-SUS. Phew. Deep breaths. Fuuuuuuck. You guys. FUUUUUUCK. Ok. God. Christ, sorry about dumping all of that on ya. I mean, I know you have to feel the same. Fuck. I am covered in sweat and surrounded by snotty, tear-y tissues. Okay. […]

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I NEED HELP, GUYS. (I think….) Someone took my kids in the middle of the night and replaced them with angelic figures identical to my kids – same voices, same cowlicks (which, by the way, what a weird fucking word), same smells and morning breath –  but they’re different because they’re ANGELS. Early this morning, […]

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