Friends, 

I have spent the better part of the last year answering your questions about everything from pregnancy to parenting to getting your mojo back after baby. I have read hundreds of your letters, and each one I read touches me in a very personal way. I’m no expert, not by a long shot, but what I have learned over the last 10 years of parenting is knowledge that I am happy to share. This community is a wondrous thing, and as much as I *hope* I’ve been able to help you, please know that you all have helped me just as much.

So it is with all my love that I write you today, to very sincerely ask: WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK, YOU GUYS?! Like, what is happening right now?! How…what…why? In the span of about three weeks, life as we know it has changed so drastically that I’m genuinely having a hard time processing everything. Schools are closed. Businesses are closing. People everywhere, so many people it hurts my heart, are losing their jobs and their income and their sense of security. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are sick, and thousands have lost their lives. And, at least in the US, we’re still in the early days of this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, so things are likely going to get worse before they get better. Millions of people in the US, in our country’s bustling and vibrant cities, are under shelter in place orders—we literally cannot leave our homes unless it’s for an “essential” reason. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely down with the safe at home movement. In order to flatten the curve, we all need to do our part, and I am more than happy to oblige. But G_D, two weeks ago both my kids were in school and we moved about without a care in the world. Two. Weeks. It seems like another world…and I guess in many ways, it is. 

I’ll be honest with you, friends. I’m having a real hard time. It’s just a lot to handle, all at once. Job loss. Homeschooling. Fear of getting sick. Fear of your friends or family or loved ones getting sick. Being stuck at home all the time. I’ll be having a pretty good day (I measure how well a day goes by how many times someone in my house cries, and good is less than four), and then suddenly everything feels impossible. It feels like too much. 

I consider myself a strong person but I am bowed under the weight of all this. And I know I am not alone! Which is one of the reasons I’m writing this to you all. Because I hear it in the voices of my friends. I see it in the faces of my colleagues during Zoom calls. I see it in myself, my people, my girls. The weight of life right now, bearing down on us all. The resiliency of the human spirit is being tested right now and to be honest, most of the time I’m not sure it’s a test. 

I keep watching the news, hoping for something, ANYTHING, to move in a better direction. I can’t stop absorbing all the horrible stories and statistics and pictures and pleas for help. It’s like a penance I feel obligated to pay, for having the privilege of being healthy and employed and managing this all (moderately) well. If you’re feeling the same, I’m saving you a seat next to me on my virtual sofa.

But I’m also writing to you all for another reason. One of the myriad of emotions I’m feeling about all of this is guilt. Guilt over complaining about (comparatively) stupid stuff. Guilt over losing my patience with my kids, because they’re dealing with all of this too! Guilt over being able to go out and buy a few weeks of groceries at a time, when others are having to make trips only when their bank accounts allow. Guilt over laughing at COVID-19 memes (I’M SORRY), or spending two hours zoned out on the couch watching trash TV. I feel an immense amount of guilt over the ease with which our home was able to transition to homeschool and working from home, since it was already so close to our regular life. I feel like such an a**hole complaining about my girls bickering over markers or having to cook so much and do so many dishes. 

But you know what I’m finally coming to terms with? It’s OK to complain about this shit. Being annoyed by the messes your kids make doesn’t mean you don’t care about bigger, more important things. It doesn’t mean that you’re not aware of how lucky you are, and how bad other people have it right now. It just means that it’s ANNOYING AF when your kid changes their clothes 11 times for homeschool. It means that it’s ANNOYING AF when you pick up the same toys 10183743 times a day. It means it’s ANNOYING AF when your youngest throws a tantrum at dinner. It means that it’s ANNOYING AF when your partner comes home and wants to have family game night after you’ve spent the last 14 hours covered in kids. We need to be able to vent about this stuff, or else it’ll eat us alive. Nothing about what is happening is normal or easy, and it’s OK to hate it and want to scream at the sky. 

So give it to me, friends. Unload your grievances! Get them off your chest in a safe space, without judgement. Would you give your left pinky toe for a night out with your girlfriends? Are you half assing your way through homeschool because you literally cannot deal with trying to get it all done? Does the sound of your partner’s or kids’ voices at the end of the day make you want to crawl out of your own skin? What’s your gripe? What’s your completely meaningless, inconsequential complaint about life right now? Nothing is too big or small. We’re in this together, for better or worse. We all need a safe space, so let us be yours. We’re bringing our community together to laugh, cry, vent, and learn all in one (digital) place—our new Is This Normal (and btw, it’s absolutely not!) Facebook Group. Get it off your chest. I promise you, you’ll feel so much better. 

None of This Is Normal But We’re Doing It Anyway,

Is This Normal

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