It is very hard not to look at someone else’s seemingly perfect life and be jealous, and that’s never been more true in this pandemic. It’s been a challenge for every family, even the ones who might seem to have it easy.
It’s hard not to compare challenges scrolling through social media.
I know I’m not alone, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through my Instagram feed and seen momfluencers with a full face of makeup and wearing an actual outfit when I haven’t had the will to put myself together (this has been going on since before the pandemic in all honesty). And I only have one child!
How do moms of multiples do this? Or I see picture-perfect playrooms and virtual learning setups and while I’m thankful I don’t have to deal with the latter, the former for us are disasters, no matter how many times I try to tidy up. These other moms make it look so easy, and I have to remind myself: these are not the full pictures of these moms’ lives, and they are choosing what to show. Even in person, people choose what to divulge about their lives.
I think on the surface, even my life might look pretty easy to people on the outside. I am a SAHM to only one child, one who is too young for virtual school. He naps for three hours in the middle of the day, giving me a nice break from his terrible twos. We live in a nice neighborhood, my husband works from home, and everything on the outside seems … fine.
The pandemic challenges families in different ways.
But what people don’t see is my husband trying very hard to concentrate and work with an active two-year-old in the house. There are tantrums and frustrating yells from my son because he can’t verbalize what he wants in every instance. We live by an elementary school, and if we knew about the amount of noise this school would create, from garbage trucks every early morning, school buses idling (yes…even in this pandemic where no kids are going to school), car doors from teachers arriving are slamming, even leaf blowers and landscaping services starting at 7 am, I’m not sure we would have moved into this house.
Being a stay at home mom, I sometimes feel like my son is my boss, and disciplining him or telling him “no” is so draining (he is VERY strong-willed). And dealing with a speech delay in a pandemic is not fun: speech therapy over Zoom was the worst, and now that we’re going into the office, it still isn’t traditional because the therapist must wear a mask, making me worry that this might not even work all that well. Did I mention my son was also a late walker? I don’t think I did, and the physical therapy we did over Zoom for a few months was only slightly better than how speech therapy over Zoom has been/is going. At least he finally started walking…
I actually didn’t think a pandemic would change our lives all that much. At the start of lockdown orders, I had a 16-month-old who hadn’t been out of the house all that much; a babysitter sometimes came to the house, rarely we went to a music class or storytime at the library. But add an additional person who is constantly at and working from home to the mix and remove options to leave the house for, the situation isn’t as easy.
Many families are struggling right now.
But I try to remind myself of both sides. This pandemic has changed at least one aspect of life for everyone. No matter what people are presenting, everyone’s life has been altered, and challenges that didn’t exist before exist now. Even though I’m not juggling a job keeping up with virtual school, I am facing challenges I never faced before. As a stay at home mom, I am keeping up with a toddler’s physical and speech therapy exercises. I balance therapy Zoom calls and plan outdoor activities. The energy I give throughout the day helps my husband stay focused on his job with little noise as possible. When I see people who look like they have it all together, I remind myself that they could be struggling. No one looking from the angle of Instagram actually knows.
So if this pandemic has reiterated anything, it’s that we should never take anything at face value. That old adage that you never know what battles someone is fighting is even more true now. As we finish out this year, try not to assume anything and be kind to everyone. Let’s try to support each other always, especially during this challenging pandemic.