An Honest Mom’s Take on Adjusting to a New Normal

A new normal, uncharted territory, an unprecedented time—or as I call it in my less graceful moments, a total _ _ _ _ storm.

I’ve always been someone who has adjusted pretty well.
I had no problem moving by myself to New York City in my early twenties after growing up in a small New England town. Nearly a decade later, I gave up life in the big city to move back to care for my dad who was critically ill with kidney disease. (He made it. #donatelife!)

I adjusted to getting divorced, becoming a single mother with a 3-year-old and starting down a new career path that would help me better care and provide for him. When he was diagnosed with ADHD—and the things like anxiety, emotional deregulation, behavior issues and more that can come along with it—I adjusted my parenting approach and my reading list to include every book ever written on the subject.

So three weeks ago when I had to begin working my full-time job from home, homeschooling my now-third-grade special-needs kid while dealing with my own depression, anxiety and ADHD—I adjusted.

Here’s how:

  1. Some days I take a shower just to get away from it all and have a good cry.
  2. When I wake up in the middle of the night and my anxious thoughts won’t let me sleep, I sneak downstairs, make some tea and do a crossword. Sometimes I scroll Instagram for hours without liking or commenting on anything because I don’t want anyone to wonder why I’m awake at 3 am.
  3. I do my best to keep my son’s learning a priority. Some days we study state capitals and take spelling quizzes. Some days he picks his curriculum and that might include only Art and P.E. I teach him math by baking. There has been lots of baking. I like to think we’re helping “fatten the curve.”
  4. I talk to my best friends daily. Via text, video chat, or even a good ol’ fashioned phone call.
  5. There are times when I scream at the top of my lungs into a pillow.
  6. I check in on my aging parents and my 98-year-old grandma to gain a healthy perspective on things. They grew up in what was then a country with no electricity or indoor plumbing. The fear of running out of toilet paper and White Claws is a problem born of privilege.
  7. I listen to music. All day. I have what some may unfairly label as an obsession with the Dave Matthews Band. This fixation has helped me get through all of the previously mentioned adjustments. As does watching hours of concert footage.
  8. I save workout tips and routines. And then never revisit them. But, just in case, they’re saved.
  9. Sometimes I yell at him to do his school work or to Just. Stop. Talking. PLEASE! And later, I apologize.
  10. I meditate. I’m not talking about crystals and transcendental methods. Sometimes, I sneak away, sit in the bathroom with my earbuds in and close my eyes for as long as I can before the door knob starts turning and the knocking intensifies.
  11. I donate to causes and local businesses that are dear to me.
  12. We dance in our pajamas.

The current situation is a difficult one—at times heartbreaking. There is no rule book, no right or wrong way to navigate. We’ve gone through different versions of storms we thought we’d never make it through, but we did. This will be no different. Cut yourself some slack. You’re adjusting the very best you can.

Lisa Brecher is the marketing and community engagement manager at the Center for Human Development. She wrote this from underneath a blanket fort in her living room.