Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week — if you’re losing patience and more short-tempered than usual since the onset of the pandemic, well, you’re not alone. Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
Like many people, I’ve been working from home since March. My husband has also been working from home since March. My kids, 6 and 2, have been home since March. My patience is so thin all the time, my anxiety is higher than it’s ever been, and while I know we’re luckier than most people in that we’re healthy and functioning well (enough), my temper is short. So, so, short. I’ve never been an “angry mom,” I’m not a yeller, but I am snapping at my kids and husband all the time. I just feel like a lot of our interactions have negativity to them, and I’m worried. Which just makes my anxiety higher. HELP.
Listen to me, okay? You are living through a global pandemic and the severity of that cannot, truly, be understated. You’re doing your best through an unprecedented catastrophe that is still very real and very scary and has radically (and permanently) changed the way all of us live. Take a deep breath, and please, please, be kinder to yourself.
The whole idea of self-care (exercise, sleep, meditations, etc.) is very important in 2020, of course, but even trying to do accomplish those because we “need” to is enough to send our collective anxiety spinning. So I’m not going to tell you to do that. I’m going to tell you that whatever calms your mind and brings you even a modicum of distracting joy, do that. Eating Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner at 2 p.m.? Go for it. Watching hours of Ina Garten talking to you in her sing-song, calm voice amid endless acreage in the Hamptons for fresh herbs and flowers, please, enjoy it (I know I do). British baking shows? Watch ’em all. Re-reading old books you’ve read a thousand times for comfort? Yes, break out those dog-eared pages.
Talk to your husband about your needs, and without putting any pressure on yourself whatsoever, do whatever you need to do to meet them or have them met — there is no such thing as guilt or over-indulgence in 2020 and 2021, either, while we’re at it. Nada. Doesn’t exist. Those are the rules.
As for your kids, I’d be willing to bet that while I’m sure they haven’t gone unscathed in this endless pit of a year that won’t stop until it’s staked its claim on all of us in some way, they are in a home where they are loved, cared for, and, I’m guessing, securely attached to their parents. All they need from you is for that to continue, and your anxiety-laden anger will not erase or cancel it out. You might have less patience, but as long as you’re still their safe space for snuggles, talks, worries, and joy, they will be fine.
Talking to a therapist, if you can afford it, is a great option. Look into it if you can. In the meantime, find happiness and calm where you can, and then do those things again as much as possible. You are not alone.