There’s a principle in physics along the lines of two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. I know because two months ago – despite not having a degree in elementary education – I stood in my kitchen, pantsless, explaining the Pauli Exclusion Principle to my 5th grader while haphazardly flinging ingredients into my Instant Pot for dinner and mentally running through the checklist for a Zoom presentation I was set to give a client over my lunch hour.
Like many women in 2021, I feel the pressure to be two in one. And like all women, I don’t need a dead white guy to tell me it doesn’t work.
If we choose to have a family, we must be 100% mom 100% of the time, or we are monsters. And if we choose to work, we must be 100% employee without allowing our attention or schedule to betray the faintest hint of motherhood.
We get the worst of both worlds.
We’re wearing 11 hats, spinning antique China plates, and juggling flaming laptops while Beyonce’s “Who Run the World (Girls)” plays on a loop in the background.
We’re telling our teens and our parents that they can’t hang out with their friends until there’s a vaccine.
We’re ordering groceries online in one browser tab and reviewing reports in another while begging our middle schoolers to please at least brush their hair before tuning into their virtual field trip.
Trapped in a dichotomy of pandemic proportions, we suddenly had to be in two places at once. Someone had to quit their job, drop to part-time, or work from home – and most of the time, it was women. The expectations did not change, and we find ourselves here: existing as two (or more!) people in one body. One space. Mother, employee, teacher.
There is no escape from work – now crammed into the nooks and crannies of our schedules previously occupied by things like sleep – and there is no break from the mental load of home.
Dishes, laundry, Pythagoras, and kanban boards are piling up. The tween hormones, and teen angst, and Crap! We all have dentist appointments tomorrow?!
Infants and toddlers sit in our laps and play at our feet as we try our best to sound professional on conference calls.
Do you know what happens to the mom wearing too many hats and no actual pants?
She gets it done, because she doesn’t have a choice.
And ladies? We killed it this year.
Whether you skipped straight to Acceptance and set up a lemonade stand when The Rona handed you lemons, or whether you’re circling the drain somewhere between Bargaining and Anger…you made it.
Whether you end the school year with a gold star or a participation trophy, I’m proud of you.
You’re a freaking badass.
You became facilitators of online and remote learning overnight, with a weak wi-fi connection and only one laptop to split between three kids.
You dove head first into working from home, simultaneously supervising your kids’ education and your employees (who were also working from home with their own kids).
Some of you decided “crisis schooling” just wasn’t working and threw yourselves heart and soul into full-on homeschooling.
And others were teacher moms, hiding in their bedrooms and keeping our kids engaged online while also keeping their own kids on task in the dining room.
Here’s to the moms fighting for kids with IEPs, who need specialized educational services and in-person connection.
Here’s to the grandmas who stepped in, clueless as to what Seesaw, Flipgrid, and Google Classroom were all about. Unaware that we no longer “carry the one”. Ready to help with their years of hat-wearing and plate-spinning experience.
And here’s to the moms who couldn’t.
We know you sacrificed more than most, staffing our hospitals and doctors offices. Stocking our store shelves with food and toilet paper while we acted like lunatics. Spending your days and your nights behind the wheels of police cars and ambulances. Making sure our utilities stayed on, and our kids had loving caregivers.
Who run the world? Girls.
Enjoy your summer “break”, mama. You earned it.