Everything is Hard: When The Flame Burns Out

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Burning the candle at both ends has taken on new meaning in my life and I’m sure, in the lives of parents all across the county and the world. It’s hard. As we draw near the two-year anniversary of the “Covid Lockdown,” I find my resolve crumbling. And I know I am not alone. My HR department held an urgent “Supervisor Mental Health Training” as apparently, it’s a nationwide crisis.

I think they are right. I used to think I could multi-task. That I could tough it out. That “this week (or month or year) is tough, but it’ll get easier soon.” I don’t think that way anymore—I don’t see the relief point.

I see hard times ahead and it makes me question everything.

In August, I was in an accident. I broke several bones and have had to have a couple operations. It’s been a trying season for sure. I had my last surgery on Dec. 20th, so we hunkered down for the holiday. We laid low, watched movies and generally stayed in. I think we made it to Christmas mass, but other than that, no outings.

Then we started back to school on January 3rd. Within four days, my 10-year-old had Covid and it felt like the whole school, town and state were going through the same thing. We quarantined and laid low again. This was our first time actually having Covid in the house, but not our first quarantine. Maybe our 6th or 7th. Most of the time, it’s been one kid at a time (I have four), so it seems that someone has been sent home at one point or another. Daycare had to close for two weeks (three times now), the 5th grade went remote for a week, etc.). But this time, it was all six of us at home all week. With both parents trying to work from home, 3 of the 4 kids doing online work and 2 confused dogs all on top of each other.

All the while, I am literally hopping around on one foot (the surgery was to reconstruct my ankle) and I am thinking, man, what more? When does this get better? Don’t get me wrong, we are not in crisis. I am healing from my accident, the version of Covid we got was barely a two-day sniffle for just one of my kids. Overall, we are healthy, happy, safe and warm. But the baseline of life is just always chaos. “Normal” always seems hard.

It always feels like we are walking a narrow path on the edge of a high cliff.

In December, a huge wind storm with 100 mph winds blew down the foothills where we live—trees, fences, power poles all fell victim to its force. Normally, when these kinds of freak storms occur, if we are impacted, we feel like we’ve been literally and figuratively blown down. But when our “normal” life is always so close to the edge of the cliff, these kinds of storms that cause the power to go out a couple days or the dogs to run away because the fence blew down are the final breeze that blows us off the cliff instead of just to our knees.

How do we reset “normal?” How do we back the crazy of life away from the edge of the cliff? Last week while I was trying to conduct business meetings while helping with homework, while jumping and screaming and crashing ensued around me, when I couldn’t even mute myself and jump up and put a stop to it because someone ran off with my crutches when I wasn’t looking, I just wanted to quit. Quit my job, quit my parenting, quit adulting all together. No amount of, “Oh, this too shall pass, it’ll get better, sunnier days ahead” kind of encouragement could have convinced me otherwise.

I need a pause button. I need to regroup and renege on everything I have ever committed to doing besides the bare minimum. When will this get less hard? When will we stop being expected to “roll with the punches” and “not skip a beat?”

I don’t know.

And to be honest, I am not sure anyone does. I guess for the time being I will just have to “keep on keeping on,” removing obligations and commitments from my plate until “normal life” feels a little less extreme sport and a little more Little House on the Prairie.

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Rachel is a native Coloradoan, though originally from the Western Slope. She followed her husband Chris to his hometown of Colorado Springs after having met in engineering school at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Together they have four beautiful children, Tommy (2011), Tazzy (2014), Zach (2015) and Zinny (2018). Having a young and active family keeps Rachel on her toes trying to find ways to keep the ship sailing while still meeting all the demands of motherhood. Though Rachel loves her most important role as Mommy most, she also works full time outside the home as a Water Resources Engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. This role helps keep her life centered, bouncing from detailed and complex discussions relating to Colorado Water Law with her husband ( a mechanical engineer) to daycare and preschool drop off and pick up schedules, while being constantly interrupted by the equally complex musings of her 4 year.