On Motherhood: Finding Beauty in a Time of Uncertainty

The Magazine: On Motherhood: Finding Beauty in a Time of Uncertainty

What could possibly make sense of the strangeness that has taken over our lives? It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s profound. And to state the obvious, it's complicated. We’re on a roller coaster of emotions — feeling extreme stress and extreme gratitude at any given moment. In the beginning, I remember the disbelief and panic at the empty shelves at the grocery stores. Why wasn’t I more worried about toilet paper? I remember finding strange joy at the silliest of internet memes. And now, weeks later, I’ve exhausted myself thinking through the what ifs, with no end in sight. I’ve spent countless hours debating ways and circumstances in which my kids could see my parents. Not knowing... Am I crazy for trying to figure out a way to do that? Or am I crazy not to? I cried this morning while working out; a moment of physical release that allowed for what I needed to get out, emotionally. And I realized that I might be losing it.

Risk, by definition, is something we can measure. It’s something we can understand.  This is something else, entirely. This is uncertainty. We just don’t know. No one does.

It's in the unknowing that the crazy takes hold, but also, the beauty. Before this, I was lucky if I made it home for bath and bedtime 3 days a week. Now, I get to see my kids and hug them when they get up from their naps every day, I never miss a bath or bedtime, and even get to sneak in family dinners, when one would have been unimaginable with our previous schedules.

But it hasn’t all been idyllic, slow living and picture-perfect family life. The first few weeks of trying to juggle the responsibilities of being a working parent at home, the adjustment to running a business remotely, coping with “virtual” pre-school and helping my daughter understand why her world changed overnight, the debacle of family Zooms resulting in a classic tale of miscommunication and drama — it’s been hard. Being a full-time working parent in the “normal” world is difficult to balance, but at least when I was at the office I could focus on work, and when I was at home I could focus on being present with my children. But needing to do both in the same physical space is challenging. Putting the challenges of finding a moment of peace and quiet and mental focus aside, having to tell my children that I can’t always help them in that moment, can’t always put their needs first… it’s heartbreaking, and I feel so conflicted. In some ways, it’s been really powerful to create a connection between my professional life and my family life, but that ambiguity has been really challenging, too.

And yet, this time and experience has revealed beautiful opportunities to be present in ways I don’t know that I could have slowed down for on my own.

I’m teaching my daughter to cook, and she learned how to ride a bike. We take the time to just “chit chat” at night — sometimes about big feelings, and sometimes about nothing at all. My son’s sense of humor and sweet affection has blossomed in ways I could have never predicted, and would have never been able to witness so intimately. My husband and I have been able to steal a few hours on weekend afternoons to just talk — nowhere to go, no plans to be made, the freedom to just be.

So as life settles into this new normal, I try to remember, this won’t last forever. The truth is, life was complicated before. It’s even more complicated now. But in that tension lies richness, dimension, and the opportunity to choose a mindset and a perspective. It's a choice that I have — and we have — every day. And with that choice, maybe we can find a new way of being. We take this trial and find new truths. Slow down. Love hard. Make time for the little things and the small moments. Know that whatever we are capable of, is enough.

For today, I’m going to try to love my kids a little more. Love my life. Love myself. And tomorrow, wake up and do it all again.

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