How a Pandemic Changed my Approach to Motherhood

Ashley K. McCardia

Before the world closed down for Corona, I was 6 months into my first job outside of the home in a decade. Prior to that, I was a stay at home mom, homeschooling my two girls, and I didn’t want it any other way. But as we all know- life happens. Circumstances can change on a dime and mine did just that. For the first time, my 6 and 10 year old girls stepped into their respective classrooms at our local elementary school and I went back to work.

Six months is enough time to get out of practice at most things, so when fate put me back home full time with my girls, my motto quickly became, “Give yourself and them some grace.”

Unbeknownst to me, my patience had suffered greatly while I hadn’t been home with the girls. I was no longer used to the way my six year old took an eternity to tell a story, or the way my oldest had turned into a moody preteen seemingly overnight. I was not accustomed to my house looking quite so lived in, or craft supplies strewn literally everywhere. I’d forgotten how much food we went through every week!

I noticed an infinite number of Facebook articles on ‘Organizing Your Life during a Pandemic’ and ‘How to be a Teacher 101.’ So much advice that ultimately left me feeling defeated. I needed to find what worked for us and, with plenty of trial & error, we did. We fell into a routine and I noticed my resentment for isolation was waning. I was no longer begrudgingly home full time with my kids, but instead was wading my way through a time in history that would end up being a lifelong memory for us- for better or worse.

I wanted my kids to look back on this time as a weird, but special moment in time where we were forced to simplify. As days passed, I found myself leaning into a more relaxed way of life. I lowered my expectations of myself and my kids and we were all happier for it. I made a decision to try and say “yes” as much as I possibly could. We slept in. We did schoolwork at our pace. We literally took every day as it came.

As a direct result, I became less focused on being a perfect mom, a stigma that has plagued me for 11 years. The world stopped and blessed me with a chance to just be with my kids, create new bonds, teach them, make art with them, fuel their independence, and show them that I do not care that things go perfectly, but that we are safe and happy. Most importantly, I was able to show myself that perfect wasn’t the goal. It took a worldwide shut down for me to realize that my ‘just okay’ days were fine!

This year mother’s day is going to be strange for many of us moms. We will likely order take out versus going out to eat, many of us won’t be able to visit our own mothers & grandmothers, and it will probably look just like many of our average days lately. Maybe, like me, you would rather a day of solitude & peace rather than one of celebration this year. Either way, my hope for you, fellow mama, is just that you remember your best is perfection, and that you are enough just how you are and, as we slowly emerge from our homes into our new normal, you remember these months fondly.

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