Today I threw a white board marker to the floor with a very loud 4 letter expletive. The finality of the words I’M DONE made the entire room quiet. The room being my 2 kids and the outburst-er being me. I didn’t mean it, but I wanted to. I wanted to SO BAD. I wanted to walk out that door and never fucking home school again. Not for one more second.
I later apologized, explaining that I was wrong for flipping out, that I was scared and frustrated and have no right trying to teach fractions. To which my son astutely replied ‘We understand. You also can’t work and make any of your own money and you’re not even paid to do this teaching job’.
After, I walked into my room and sobbed at the failure and tasks ahead of me. Failure to produce any family income, failure to find any sort of zen in quarantine. Failure to take this time, be mindful, productive and a good ‘fun’ mom. Failure to plant a cool garden, paint a piece of furniture, bake bread, workout or even find business opportunity in this new weird world.
I am in awe of store owners and restauranteurs that have gained new directions and maintain thriving businesses in this shit hole of a situation. So what is wrong with me that I can’t seem to get anything done? Am I lazy, or crazy or setting the bar too high? People love to give advice… ‘Stop home schooling! Be chill! Spend quality time with kids! Don’t worry so much!’.
I get it, I understand that I am my own worst critic. I understand the message given, and the love surrounding the advice. People just want to help each other through this, and that is wonderful.
The actual problem is that some of us mentally can’t accept this advice. Some brains are not wired to be like Oh! You’re right, I am totally going to calm down now, thanks!
Some of us find it impossible to work around the issues we are facing, some of us feel like we are drowning. The OCD that short circuits in chaos, the anxiety brain that creeps in to strangle you because your life is irrevocably altered for an uncertain amount of time. The depressive cloud that covers you in a dark blanket as you huddle over your phone reading about all the nurses and essential workers that have so many more problems then you but you just can’t seem to make yourself move. The alcohol memes on social right now that tell you to drink away your problems, that jugs of margaritas at 9AM will calm your LOUD brain…until the raging hangover brings back the guilt and self loathing amplified by a thousand.
Some of us have serious mental health roadblocks that are multiplying at a rapid rate and no amount of advice is going to magically solve our problems.
My crux is that I physically CAN’T just chill the fuck out. I have very strong OCD tendencies that make it extremely difficult to work in chaos. I have heightened anxiety in an unorganized house, my need to tidy isn’t superficial, it’s a necessity for my brain to thrive.
If I get too overwhelmed, my brain shuts down and enters a depressive state. I spent 2 years of hell in this place; I don’t ever want to return.
I can’t walk by laundry on the floor, then sit at my desk and creatively design a logo or write a new chapter in a book. If there are dishes all over the kitchen it’s impossible to quiet my brain enough to form a thought or learn something new. I ask my family all day long to please help me, please help me. They think I’m nagging, they think I’m being too picky, they think I am crazy nazi cleaner who needs things a certain way just because it’s prettier that way.
They have no idea what it’s like to live in my brain.
That I am home schooling hours each day because somehow my daughter fell through the system cracks and still can’t read. That tasks that should take her half an hour, take 3. That I feel personally responsible for her struggles because what sort of good mother, who is a writer, has a child who can’t read?
Every morning I get up at 630 to do my hair and makeup not because I am vain and superficial, but in actuality if I didn’t, every time I would walk in front of a mirror, the self loathing would become so debilitating that I don’t think I could make it through the day.
I don’t tidy incessantly because I love doing it. I do it because I require it. There is a reason I work alone at home. I need to sit at my desk and be able to focus, to think through the creative process, to be physically ready for my day, to be able to work on something without constant interruption from the littles asking what a Haiku is, how does one simplify fractions or how to spell 400 words.
There is a reason I get up early, not because I love the sunrises, but my brain requires me to wipe the surfaces clean, to make sure laundry is on the go, to empty the dishwasher, make the bed, tidy the kids stuff, get dressed and put makeup on. If I don’t, my mental health spirals. If I am not prepared when the kids roll down stairs, I suddenly panic. My anxiety ramps, my brain shuts down.
I don’t write this for sympathy, or for people to say I’m doing great, or that I’m a good mom. I don’t write this for anyone else but for those who are going through this particular form of hell along side with me. There is nothing that I can say that will change the way you think, to make it better. You are suffering, and I am too. I just wanted you to know that I see you and I understand what you are going through.