Hello friends, long time, no see.
Literally, haven’t seen most of y’all in person in like, a year now. But thanks to social media, I still know what you’re binge watching on Netflix, what books you’re reading, and when your dog’s birthday is. These are the hard-hitting facts that I need to be kept in the loop on.
How ARE you? No, really. How are you doing? I ask that question sincerely. You know how many times a day I’m asked that question, but expected to respond with the standard “Good, good. How are you?” When was the last time someone besides your mom asked you how you were really doing?
Am I the only one who has been tempted recently, in one of these shallow “How are you doing?” exchanges to respond with the truth?: “Well actually, since you asked, I’m pretty fucking shitty today. My almost 2 year old still doesn’t sleep through the night, my kids are struggling with virtual schooling and emotionally wrecked from isolation. They spend most of their free time on their phones and video games, and I don’t feel like I should stop them because it’s the only social interaction they get with their peers these days. My friends want to set up a mom’s night out, which, let’s be real, I desperately need. But I know if I commit, when the day comes, I’m going to panic and try to come up with a reason to bail because some days, I can’t find the energy to get out of my yoga pants, let alone put on a real bra and socialize (distantly, of COURSE). And let’s not even talk about my bank account balance. I’ve been Amazon Priming my way through this pandemic, and I’m NOT SORRY. We’re now soda-streaming, air-frying, keurig-coffee drinking quarantiners and are our lives any better for it? No, not really. We are saving a shit-ton of recycling for the environment with the “soda water” machine, as my toddler calls it, though.
Oh, and then there’s the whole trying thing. I’ve been cleared medically for 5 months and it’s just not happening. Why is it that we spend much of our teenage/early adult lives trying to prevent having kids, and then when we want it badly, when we’re ready for it, it doesn’t happen, and you’re met with a soul-crushing disappointment you didn’t know you were capable of feeling every month when you pee on the stick and there’s only one line?…oh, what’s that? You were only calling to ask if I’m happy with my internet service? Well no, of course I’m not. You’re Comcast, after all.”
In case you haven’t realized, you can be brutally honest with me. And no matter who you are–whether you’ve been my best friend since 6th grade, or we’ve never actually met and you’re one of the wonderful social media friends I’ve made on this blogarific journey–I care about how you’re actually doing. If you need to tell me how you REALLY fucking are, lay it on me. I’m here, and I’ll listen.
We’re pretty much a full year into this covid thing, and despite having had the last 365ish days to learn how to cope with a global pandemic, I still wake up some days with what I like to call “covid exhaustion.” What does that mean? It means I’m fucking TIRED. Most prominently, I’m tired of worrying that me or a loved one are going to contract covid and die. I’m tired of worrying every time I post a picture with my sister or parents that someone is judging me for being outside my bubble. You know what? Mental health sometimes trumps quarantine logic. And if seeing my parents and sister are what keeps me from diving off the fucking deep end, Karen, then that’s what has to happen. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure my sister would actually die if she didn’t see my kids. Because her mental health matters, too.
But more and more lately, I’m tired of being the bad cop with my family. I’m tired of policing the kids during virtual schooling. With all 6 of us home, I’ve become the eternal nag: did you brush your teeth? Did you shower today? Did you unload the dishwasher? Did you take the trash out? Did you remember to thaw the chicken for dinner? Did the dogs eat breakfast yet? Did you draw with crayon on that wall? Where’s your half-eaten lollipop? Did you do your school work?
My family must be sick of hearing it from me, because I know that I’m sick of hearing it from myself. But if I don’t ask ALL THE THINGS and keep on top of ALL THE THINGS, they don’t get done. And yes, some things I still need to learn to let go (sorry kiddos, the showering and teeth brushing are not included in this statement). But with a family of 6 (7, if you include Grandma, but she’s the most self-sufficient of our brood. I never have to remind her to brush her teeth!), you CAN’T operate without a cruise director. No matter how many freaking color-coded chore charts and lists I hang in our Command Center, reminding the kiddos to do everything from basic hygiene to animal care to common-sensical activities (like LOGGING ONTO VIRTUAL SCHOOL. FOR GOD’S SAKE, how do you not realize that after a year of this, I KNOW when you’re watching YouTube videos instead of logging into your Zooms!) there STILL needs to be someone OWNING it all. Without that cruise director, the ship sinks, and it goes down like the fucking Titanic.
Call me Captain Ally, and I’ll be damned if I don’t keep the good ship Mitchell afloat.
Why are you telling us this, Ally? Are you complaining? Yes, of-fucking-course I’m complaining. Now please, don’t take this as a partner-bashing exercise. I have a STELLAR partner in crime, he’s more than a few notches above the rest. He’s just a man, and men’s brains don’t multitask or think about the plethora of tasks that having a family of 6 entails.
More importantly, I see you, cruise directors. Our tasks and responsibilities now span over remarkably more territory than they ever have before. And on top of all the tasks you have to take care of each and every single day, many of us still have these pesky things called JOBS we still need to manage. And, you know, feed your family (meal plan, grocery shop, cook, clean it all up), pay the bills on time, do allllll the laundry (1 day to wash, 5-7 business days to fold and put away), keep everyone hygienic, up-to-date with doctor and dentist appointments, remember to call the ortho because kid #3 lost his retainer (again).
I see you and I salute you, fellow captains.
So, in case you need to hear this today: how ARE you?