Caroline with a toddler in one hand and 2 DDP's in the other, clearly doing "fine" and thriving.
Last week, we brought the podcast back from a months-long break. We hadn't planned in advance to stop recording, but the early summer felt like the right time for many reasons. For one, we'd been podcasting for a year and a half without much more than a break for a few weeks around Christmas, and we were burning out.
And there was also the little issue of a global pandemic that had us scrambling, and we decided that we needed to take a break and focus on our families (well, me moreso than Caroline. That woman has endless energy and we are not worthy.)
We thought we'd take the summer off and then get started again in August, once our kids were in school.
Ahh what naive little pandemic babies we were back then. I had grand plans for the summer. GRAND plans. This was going to be our first summer at a theme park (the kids were young enough to get in free but old enough to start enjoying things), both of my kids would be able to swim after a full spring and early summer of swim lessons, and my life as a mom would continue into that zone that you reach when your babies start to become actual kids. It's that time where you realize you can actually have fun and be a real person again, and your kids are real fun people too.
But what is that saying about "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?" (This came up in our season 1 finale episode with Leslie Stephens!)
There is a part of me that knows that this is our reality, and a part of me that still cannot believe that we're in the midst of a global pandemic and that our government has f***** up the response to it so greatly. (And that people still believe that the threat isn't real.)
But here we are, 6 months (or more) into feeling the effects of the current times. And what's the message we're getting on social media? Thrive more!
You must be kidding me. We are surviving (and for a lot of us, parenting) through a global pandemic. The likes of which haven't been seen for so many decades that there are few alive who even lived through it that time. And now I'm being directed to somehow be happy and a better person through all this?
That is too. much. pressure. And you know what? It's ok that I'm not thriving! It's ok that maybe one day is great and the next day I feel like I need to request a valium prescription. (I haven't taken the dive yet, but it's probably in the not too distant future for me.)
Maybe you're thriving, and maybe you're not. It doesn't matter what your situation is; maybe you have kids, maybe you have pets, maybe you've got none of that. You are not required to be your best self right now. It's ok to be the bare minimum. It's ok to say that you read one book to your kids today and that's the win, or you got them to eat one remotely healthy meal, or they got some (safe) social time and breathed fresh air from the great outdoors. (TONS of compassion and love to our West Coast friends who are not even able to leave their homes because of poor air quality, or to friends who are stuck in cities and apartments without easy and safe access to outdoor play for kids.)
The thing that's starting to get to me about these encouragements to thrive or live my best life, is that I am already doing that. Surviving and keeping my kids healthy and happy is the priority, because I'm a grown up and I know that objectively I will get through this (hopefully.) So telling me to do more, to give myself more time and more grace and more self-care is really making me stop and question my instincts for a bit. It makes me second guess myself. That isn't the fault of the poster, but it is something that we need to keep in mind when pushing the narrative.
Our friend Jenna messaged us with a comment that really struck home this week:
"I agree with the displeasure in the pressure to be 'thriving' in 2020. I feel that way about the sentiments for women to 'lean in' and 'bloom where you are planted' because sometimes it's ok to lean OUT and everything just sucks and you want to do anything but bloom and are angry. I feel like if we deny those feelings of angst or pretend like everything is ok, then the mental and emotional problems are just going to rear their ugly heads."
THANK YOU Jenna! The negative effects of these pressures on our mental health cannot be overstated.
When I was little, my parents had a cassette tape (*gasp*) of Ken Davis, a comedian and inspirational speaker with a bit called "I'm not ok." I remember crying with laughter but I don't remember many specific lines, except this one: "I'm not ok, you're not ok, and that's ok."
Ken said it best, and it's my mantra these days. If you're feeling fine, if you're thriving, or if the message and encouragement to thrive is helpful to you, then keep living your best life! If you're struggling with the feeling that you aren't doing enough, or having trouble keeping your head above the water, you're in good company Sis! It's fine to not be fine. Just do what you can in a single day.
Remember: sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your family is rest and recover.
This is not forever.