- Many parents find themselves in a bind when it comes to caring for their family, whether they are working or homeschooling.
- It is evident that the toll has been felt, with gray hair, dark circles and weight gain.
- Five working mothers shared photos with Insider, from before and after the pandemic.
It was early in the pandemic. Vanessa Garcia and her husband, Ignacio, adopted their second child — a 2-day-old baby they met with gloves and masks on. Garcia, a Miami-based writer/producer, was unable to find a home for her immersive theater piece. Meanwhile, Ignacio had just left his job — and with it, his clients and salary.
The Garcia family was 98 years old and Garcia was 90 at the time. Garcia and his grandparents were 98 years old and 93 respectively. Garcia and Garcia’s grandchildren were protected by their family in 2020 and 2021. “It was — a lot,”Garcia, 42 years old, told Insider.
“A lot”It is a gross understatement to say that most Americans are living through the pandemic, especially parents, who have to manage careers, childcare, homeschooling, or caregiving for their older relatives. A surveySpring 2020 revealed that parents are already significantly more stressed than other parents, and even more so. Recent researchAnd Anecdotes use more desperate phrases like “rock bottom,” “The rage,” “Mental-health crisis“, and “Crunching pressure“When discussing modern child-rearing practices in the US.
Parents with kids under 5 — Garcia’s are 2 and 4 — “are in a special kind of hell right now,” Anya Kamenetz For NPR, I wroteBecause the children can’t get vaccinated, day cares close down. The situation is also Black is a serious problem Single parents.
“The night sometimes does feel eternal, but it never is. No matter what, it comes to an end,” Garcia, who’s Cuban American, told Insider, referencing the Cuban activist Oswaldo Payá. “I think, however, if you would have told me how dark some of the moments would get, how much it felt like the world was going to end at times, I might not have believed that. That deep dark question I ask myself: Is this what my children will inherit?”
All this takes a toll upon how you feel. Chronic stress increases the risk of developing chronic conditions like depression. Development of under-eyebagsThere are wrinkles, but there is also a beauty. gray hair. Shuttered gyms, unattainable schedules, and changing priorities can all lead to you saying “Enough with the beauty treatments!”
But it’s not all bad. Garcia let her hair grow from being dark, short and styled to gray, curled and free. “felt freeing and like paradoxically I had control of allowing that particular wilderness to be,”She spoke.
With Insider, four more working mothers shared how the pandemic affected them.
Caroline Broomell, a 45-year-old nurse near Baltimore
Broomell, who had lost 15 pounds in March 2020, felt great. Broomell returned to full-time work with her two daughters, in seventh grade and kindergarten. “I felt like I was finally getting control of my life,”She spoke to Insider. “I was wrong.”
Broomell’s husband, who is also a nurse was on the front lines during daytime, and then she became a teacher for her youngest child at night.
“To be at work, at the kind of job where one rarely gets a lunch or a restroom break, dealing with a major health crisis while the kids are at home and trying to keep them safe and mentally healthy — it’s a different kind of distraction”She said that working at home with children is better than being away. “I felt like I had two jobs, mom and nurse, and they were incompatible with each other.”
Broomell also had to coparent with her ex-husband who is anti-vaccine, anti-mask, and her youngest son. “We have been constantly navigating exposure risks and her normal teenage desire to be with her friends,”Broomell said that her daughter has been vaccinated.
Broomells well-being was neglected. “I gained 30 pounds. I let go of so much of myself. My anxiety was constantly through the roof, and the to-do list was never done,”She spoke.
After taking a job that allows her to work remotely, she is doing much better. A doctor was just seen by her.
Plan, anti-anxiety medication, referral to a therapist. “Finding the time for that little step has been overwhelming,”She spoke.
Broomell has ceased wasting his energy on petty matters. “I try to look put-together, but I worry so much less about what people are thinking or about what I’m supposed to be doing and just do what I want,”She spoke.
Lauren Manaker, a 41 year-old writer and dietitian in Charleston, South Carolina
ManakerInsider spoke to a mother of a 6-year old girl and her husband about her pre-pandemic self. “wouldn’t believe that she can squeeze any more in than she already was.”She was the one who took the “after”Photo taken around midnight to show her husband how she looks following a day of working, parenting, and surviving.
Manaker said photos don’t capture loneliness. “Between work and coparenting, certain things had to fall to the wayside. Friendships suffered because we were all too busy,”She spoke.
Manaker was a healthcare professional and had to learn how important self-care is. “the first thing to go.” “It took me some time to realize how important exercise, sleep, etc. is and how if I neglect myself, my whole world will crumble,”She spoke.
Ashley Lane, 35-year old managing editor in San Francisco
Lane, who works for Insider, has a 17 month-old daughter. She said that she is the most exhausted of all her children.
“I know being a parent is inherently exhausting, but there’s no doubt the pandemic has compounded this,”She spoke. “The need to be hypervigilant about how our decisions can have a direct impact on our daughter’s health means I’m constantly on high alert. It’s calculating if going to the grocery store or meeting with that friend is going to have a negative outcome. After two-plus years of this, it’s definitely taken a toll at times.”
Lane and her husband have no immediate family, and many of their relatives have never met their daughter. This experience has shown how American parents are left to manage their children. “There is nowhere near enough support, on a nationwide level, for folks with children — especially for primary caregivers,”Lane said.
Nicole Dahl, 39, is a vice president of creative strategy and creative for a Tucson hotel.
Dahl, whose children are 7 and 5, calls herself pre-pandemic. “young, full of energy, and hopeful.”She had “two pesky white hairs”She could conceal it easily and she went to the gym every day. Dahl attributes the change to stress over the last two years.
“The stress of impending death and doom, the stress of keeping a hospitality company afloat during a plague, the stress of placing and keeping a fortress of protection around my kids to best allow them to develop emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually while the world is a dumpster fire, the stress of preserving a marriage when date nights, babysitters, and grandparents are off-limits,”She spoke. “So, yeah, blue hair.”
Dahl has lost 10 pounds and no longer uses makeup.
“Why has no one stood up and said, ‘Hey, maybe we should take a step back and reevaluate all of this?'”She stated. “Our society, the way we raise our children was not made for a pandemic, or the terrible situations we find ourselves in,” she said. Perhaps we could stop focusing on long divisions, and instead focus on integration