Whoever said, "May you live in interesting times," probably didn't mean THIS interesting. I, for one, could do with a little less interesting right about now.
I'm grateful that I've worked from home for the past 15 years, so I'm set up for that, and my business is doing well. I'm also grateful that my fiance transitioned to working at home so well and that our sons enjoy distance learning. But having everyone home all the time, each of us with our own deadlines and stresses, has definitely increased my stress.
I'm grateful that we are all healthy. But with the virus spreading and news of people we know — and celebrities we feel like we know — getting sick, my stress is only getting worse.
I'm also grateful to live in a safe, comfortable place. But with five people here all the time instead of being at school or work, five pets and — what on earth were we thinking — 10 new baby chickens, my workload has definitely increased.
I know I have plenty of company in moms across the country and the world. We were busy, overwhelmed and stressed before our worlds turned upside down. How can we cope now?
Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — are doing to take care of themselves and keep calm during the current chaos.
"Moms don't take care of themselves — because this is not how society works," says Elizabeth Berger, M.D., a mom of two grown children, a child psychiatrist and the author of "Raising Kids with Character" in New York City. "Men and women accept without examination the idea that a woman's fundamental function on earth is to take care of others. Anything a woman does to 'take care of herself' is an added extra — permitted in small doses, but only to the degree that her job of taking care of others has already been fulfilled."
"Moms can take care of themselves by becoming aware of why this is an issue and recognizing that 'taking care of themselves' is defined as something that is OK for Mom to do once everyone else has been taken care of," Berger continues. "It is defined as something to do with those leftover moments around the margins. It is defined in terms of the entitlement of all those who are not Mom to have Mom take care of them first — before she takes a long, hot bath reading her favorite book with a pretty scented candle burning away the hours."
"I have been thinking a lot about resilience," says Brooke Jackson, M.D., a mom of twin girls and a son, a dermatologist, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology Associates in Durham, North Carolina, and author of the forthcoming book "Skincare for Runners." "In life, there will be curveballs, and things will not go as planned. You get to decide how you respond. You either get back up or lay down defeated. COVID-19 is the epitome of a knockout punch. We have to get back up, dust ourselves off and find our way through this storm."
"I'm maintaining control of my life and emotions by keeping control of one thing I can — my weight," says Amy Baxter, M.D., a mom of three, the CEO of Pain Care Labs and National Institutes of Health researcher based in Atlanta. "What's keeping me sane — and from ballooning up like a life raft when you pull the tab — is a chart I posted on the refrigerator. Each day has a place where I record the date and my weight. I log healthful activities, including if I drank a glass of water in the morning to kickstart my metabolism, whether I was adherent to not eating after 9 p.m., if I drank alcohol that night (women should drink no more than seven drinks and no more than four days per week), if I worked out three times per week and if I kept track of calories (I pretty much never do!). Checking in each day on these activities makes me feel a sense of control and accomplishment."
"I'm fortunate that my boys are almost 16 and 20, so it's somewhat easier to find the time to take care of myself," says Heather Orman-Lubell, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Pennsylvania. "My sons do their own thing with school and fun, and this allows me to take my own time to work out, go for a run or simply sit, read or call a friend. I am fortunate to have a home where we can each have our own space and close the door if we need to just have some time to ourselves."
"For moms who are struggling, I suggest that you give yourself grace," Orman-Lubell continues. "The house isn't going to be perfect (unless your husband is obsessed with cleaning), there will be more screen time than you would normally like, and you are likely home-schooling and working, too! It's not all easy. Take a deep breath; take a bath; go for a run; call your best friend or your mom. And know that this, too, shall pass."
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: freephotocc at Pixabay