If you follow me on Instagram, from the photos of my home and garden you’d think my life while sheltering in place has been pretty chill and stress-free. After reading a NYT parenting article on the social media performance of parenthood, I started writing about the things in my life that you don’t see: the outtakes, the lulls between images, the breakdowns.
I described how bedtime with a 23-month-old is hard. How I eat food off the floor because it’s easier than cleaning it up. How my mouth is full of canker sores from stress and my back aches because I don’t have time to do yoga anymore. How Emilia throws my phone across the room because she constantly sees me on it and knows she competes with it for my attention. How I can’t wait each day to escape to the tiny house to work — and not be the one on toddler duty. How I cry and tell myself I’m not a mother.
I went on and on, even using the repetition of “what you don’t see” to make it more dramatic, and it just felt off. I let it sit for a while, then revisited it last night and deleted it. How can I complain about my life at a time like this, when people are dying and families are trying to survive?
Last month, a quote came up in my Instagram feed, in one of Mary Laura Philpott’s posts:
One person’s more-sad doesn’t cancel out another person’s less-sad… Our personal concerns don’t go away just because the world is going up in flames on a global scale. That’s not how it works.I Miss You When I Blink
In her caption, she wrote:
“If you feel bad about feeling bad about something that’s bad but not THAT bad… you’re not bad. There’s a wiiiiiiide range of hurt out there, now and always. We’re capable of feeling for ourselves, feeling for others, and feeling for the world at large. 💗
I was reminded of this — that there’s a wide range of hurt out there, and that it’s okay for me to admit and say out loud that I’m struggling right now. I’m currently safe, I’m currently healthy, I have a home, I have a job, and my loved ones are fine so far.
But I’m still struggling.