I asked my husband, Anthony, if our kids could have extra screen time today: “Is 6 p.m. OK? I’d like to write a post.”
“Sure,” Anthony said, before returning to playing his video game.
Having gotten that okay to write a post, I suddenly found that … nothing I wanted to write could possibly fit into so small a time.
I decided not to write. Instead, I made my sons whipped cream; for such a simple treat, they rejoice every single time I make it (?!?!).
But when I was done, I realized I had a veritable ocean of minutes left between then and end of tonight’s-new-screentime-end. So: I decided to read blogs, for the first time in many days.
As luck would have it, the top couple of posts in my feeds described the 22nd of every month as “Pepper Day.” So I decided, knowing these posters but not much about Pepper Day: Why not?
Why not spend a dozen minutes simply stating exactly where I am right now?
Where I am:
The month since my sons began school has been harder than I could possibly explain. I thought last Spring’s willy-nilly, on-the-fly virtual instruction would have prepared me for more structured Fall virtual classes, but, wow, was I wrong.
This became clear when, one day a couple of weeks ago, I found myself struggling to explain to my older son how to answer a math problem. I was so damn tired, I literally couldn’t access the memory to understand–let alone explain–something that has been bone-deep knowledge for me since I was my son’s age.
After a lifetime of telling myself I Can Do Anything, Always, Period,
I went to my car and sobbed for several minutes before, knowing I could not possibly keep going as-was, I wondered what I could change and–still deep into bouts of sobbing–contacted my work team to say I could not sustain working eight hours daily right now … at least not without hurting myself and my family.
Fantastic news: They understood! All pretty much instantly replied that I ought take care of myself, and my family, so that …
I wondered: How did this not occur to me sooner?
How did it not occur to me to tap out?
Why, apart from ever-loud societal expectations (including those non-verbally communicated to me oft by my own intellectually-believed-otherwise mom) that women should work themselves to the bone and then dig even deeper into the bone, had it not occurred to me to just say: “I cannot sustain this in these circumstances”?!
Regardless of what held me back before that tear-filled moment,
I’m glad those sobs brought me clarity:
I cannot sustain this.
So, not yet two weeks into my new-er normal, I am so relieved to have confronted the fact I could not continue as-was.
While I can’t speak for next week, or next month, it seems quite probable, now, that I could continue as-is for some time–
with “as-is” being a combination of time, encouragement, and support,
as well as the bliss of
having having made a few moments, every day,
to stare at the ceiling
with nothing more,