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motherhood is isolation

The world we used to know—the pre-coronavirus world—was a difficult world for moms to live in. No matter how hard we tried to inject self-care into our lives, external pressures and the shortcomings of our societal infrastructure made it nearly impossible to truly feel fully supported and taken care of.

Now, we are in the midst of a pandemic.


And for so many moms, that means we are absolutely reeling.

Before it was hard to keep up with the demands of life—now it is actually impossible.
Before it was challenging to parent—now it is draining beyond belief.

There are so many circumstances that make motherhood relentlessly difficult during a pandemic—things that are completely out of our control. And yet there are still so many mothers who are wrought with guilt.

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"I should be able to…"

"Why can't I get my act together and…"

"I wish I didn't feel so…"

Mama, you are living through a global crisis. You have never done this before, and it is incredibly—impossibly—hard.

A few years ago, I wrote a story about one of my personal parenting mantras: You're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard. I'm not sure that phrase has ever felt more true.

So I want to take a moment and revisit this mantra with you. There is nothing about the way you are going through this that is wrong. It's quite the opposite, really.

And, so.

Dear mama, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you started your quarantine with plans to declutter your closets or plant a garden but haven't started a single project, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you feel grateful for everything you have and still cry every day because you're just so sad, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If trying to buy food and toilet paper makes you anxious and requires an entire day's worth of energy, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are an essential worker and feel angry, worried, tired and scared, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are sick, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are out of work and terrified, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If your visions of adorable and educational homemade projects made it no further than your Pinterest board, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If, when this started, you said, "We'll have a tight schedule and really try to keep these kids on track," and you just… haven't, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you emailed your child's teacher and said, "Thank you for all your hard work, but we can't do this anymore," you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If sticking to a virtual learning assignment schedule is the only thing getting your family through the day, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If your child has watched So. Much. TV, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you haven't cooked a meal since the start of quarantine, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you've baked and cooked more food than is humanly possible to consume, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are trying to work from home while taking care of your kids and feel like you're failing at both, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard. (You're not, by the way, but that's for another essay.)

If your fertility treatments were delayed and you keep seeing people on social media with kids complaining about those kids, and it hurts, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are arguing with your partner more than you ever have, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you love your partner more than you ever have, but cannot muster the energy for anything romantic, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you have lost a loved one and feel furious and desperately sad, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you don't actually mind social distancing that much, and that makes you feel guilty, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are pregnant and worried about giving birth during a pandemic, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If your mind will not stop racing with the what-ifs, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If your mind cannot think about the future or even beyond what's happening for the rest of the day, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If your roots and grays are growing in and it makes you unhappy (and then you feel guilty for feeling unhappy), you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are worried about the long-term consequences of this on your child (or yourself), you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you are so tired at night, crash into bed, but then stare at the ceiling for hours, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

If you have all these feelings within the span of an hour, you're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.

Mama, there is no "right" way to get through a pandemic. And when there is no "right", there certainly is no "wrong" way, either.

Stay safe.

Love yourself.

Love your family.

See a virtual therapist.

Eat a whole bunch of junk food and then try to eat some lettuce.

Binge-watch your favorite show (even if you just finished it last week).

Take social media breaks.

Go outside.

Sleep.

Pet your dog.

Take a shower.

Be so gentle with yourself that it feels gratuitous and extravagant—only then are you actually starting to be gentle enough.

I said it last time, and I'll say it again. The fact that you keep going and keep loving in spite of how hard it is, is your superpower. You're doing the hardest job on the planet with dedication, grace and love—and there is nothing wrong in that.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As a mom of three, I frequently get a question from moms and dads of two children: “Ok, so the jump to three...how bad is it?"

Personally, I found the transition to having even one kid to be the most jarring. Who is this little person who cries nonstop (mine had colic) and has no regard for when I feel like sitting/eating/resting/sleeping?

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