“Hi, I am a failure.” If we were starting a support group, many of us would be there front and center based on our last few months. But instead of thinking of ourselves as failures, let’s recognize that both failures and successes are not what creates value in life. Hitting rock bottom is not the end.
Doing Everything and Drowning Anyways
These last few months have brought more challenges to our lives as parents, career women, friends, and caregivers than I think any of us would have ever thought ourselves capable of. We have been asked by an invisible virus to rearrange our priorities to protect our loved ones’ safety and health. That request has brought forth the impossible decisions between providing for our families, educating our children, pursuing our careers, keeping our relationships, and for some, risking our financial securities, draining our savings accounts, and giving up our businesses. This request has us drowning in expectations, and sometimes feeling like nothing we do is enough.
Rock Bottom is Where You Are Currently Standing
There are many ways to look at a rock bottom situation in hindsight. “Rock bottom” isn’t a particularly significant statement, because like any body of water, the bottom shifts based on where you’re standing. If you’ve ever blindly walked into a rocky riverbed, you know there are spots where the floor drops out, and suddenly what you thought was the abyss is a little lower or higher than you previously had thought. For you, rock bottom may have changed many times since March, the perspective ever different depending on where you’re currently standing.
No Such Thing As Balance in a Pandemic
Mothering may be easy one day, and a Jumanji flashback the next. We may feel empowered by our work days’ sudden productivity while the kids are in school and yet terrified by their exposure to an environment we can’t control. We have thrived, fallen, recouped, readjusted, and persevered, and while our goals may bob and drift, in and out of sight, the intent to keep our heads above water is always consistent in this flood of a pandemic.
Finding the balance as a mother, a partner, a woman is a lot like swimming through these rapids, both energizing and exhausting in the same breath. The achievements, friendships, and growth that fuel us are typically the aspects that demand so much of our focus. The communities and support that we so often rely on as women are stretched thin, and it has us scrambling. Boiling down our daily happiness to the simple measure of whether we are healthy and secure. Are our children? What about our friends?
Patience in Chaos
When the tide shifts and our lives are faced with upheaval, we have the joyous capability of taking a second look. Using what we view as a failure as an opportunity to build another way of keeping afloat, another life preserver to help drift through the challenges of our overstretched days.
We can take joy in the board game nights and family dinners that we suddenly have time to enjoy. Find peace in skipping that conference and flexibility because we are all having Zoom meetings with children running rampant. There is patience in this chaos —a great adjustment from what our days used to look like, friends in lawn chairs and parking lots, kids exploring on their bikes, and impromptu date nights with a take out pizzas and lengthy discussions of “Can we ACTUALLY do this?” while demolishing a bottle of wine. Figuring out how we can clasp onto our identities while trying to be all the things for all the people is the greatest skill we will manage to pull out of this time of overextension and constant questioning, and it’s ok if we’re still struggling to navigate these waves.
We are all in the same flood, with different boats, and the best thing we can do right now is keeping others from drowning as we all figure out how to navigate our ever-changing daily perspectives.
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