Picking It All Back Up Post Pandemic

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Picking It All Back Up Post PandemicDifferent people explain the overwhelming nature of motherhood in different ways. Some describe it as one of those old circus acts where the performer balances a bunch of plates on sticks, making sure they all continue spinning without dropping any. Others feel like managing all of their responsibilities is more like juggling, talking about all the “balls” they have “in the air.” Modern metaphors compare moms to an internet browser with a hundred tabs running at any given moment. Regardless of the imagery that fits your circumstances best, we can all agree — we’ve got a lot going on.

Or at least, we used to.

Before our world as we know it changed and everything went silent. For a while we didn’t have extracurriculars to get our kids to or class parties to help throw. We didn’t attend birthday parties or get dressed in actual clothes or even leave the house for days on end. The height of the pandemic was so very challenging for so many reasons but it did have the unintended benefit of forcing us to clear our schedules and slow down.

Now things are starting to return to some semblance of “normal.” Though the pandemic isn’t actually over, we’ve adapted and learned how to resume many of our former activities with added precautions and safety measures. School age kids are all eligible for vaccines. The many tabs that closed with our computers’ forced shut downs are now all trying to restore simultaneously. And I have to say, I’m finding it all so much more exhausting than I did before.

I think that I had built up a certain amount of stamina over my years of motherhood. Since becoming a mom almost nine years ago, I have gradually added commitments, responsibilities and two additional children, getting more busy with each year but also more accustomed (resigned?) to the pace and demands of motherhood. Each additional plate I added to my already spinning collection didn’t seem like that much more than what I was already managing.

But now that I’ve set so many of them down, I feel completely overwhelmed at the idea of picking them all back up at one time and setting them to spinning again. I am struggling to keep up with my kids’ communication from school in a way I never did before. I feel much more overwhelmed with the holidays this year and less capable of pulling off “the magic” of previous years. Attending the social functions I thought I missed and longed for leaves me overstimulated and on edge.

I’m not sure what the solution is. I don’t really have a lot of perspective and wisdom on this problem yet. I’ve just managed to identify why I feel so stressed and anxious, even though life is looking much more hopeful this holiday season than it did last year. I guess it’s just going to take me some time to be operating at peak capacity again. Or maybe I won’t ever get there again.

This pandemic has been an unprecedented (in our lifetimes at least) strain on all of our systems. We’re only just beginning to uncover and understand all of the effects it has had on us and our society. If you’re feeling inexplicably overwhelmed, you’re not alone. I know it’s easier said than done, but I’m going to try to be ok with only picking back up the commitments that bring joy and value to my family. The rest will sort itself out as we all continue to heal from this collective trauma.

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Hi! I’m Sara, former early childhood teacher turned stay at home mom to two girls and a boy (2013, 2016, and 2018). My husband and I got married in 2010 and are both ETSU alumni. Despite being born here, I grew up all over the country as the daughter of a military family, only finally moving back to the area in 2014. The mountains of East Tennessee were calling us home! I love all that Knoxville has to offer young families in the way of festivals, events, outdoorsy adventures and charm. When we’re not striking off on a weekend excursion to the Farmer’s Market or a new hiking spot, I can be found in my kitchen nurturing a semi-professional baking obsession or curled in the living room with a book. I love getting to write for and be part of this supportive community of moms!

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