“I’m Just Saying” is a column by Suburbs 101 Contributor, Alexis Gold. A funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in New York City/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom. Nine months into the Covid-19 pandemic, Alexis reflects on how the pandemic is taking a toll on her family life.
U Suck. I see it clearly carved into my driver’s side mirror disguised by the backdrop of morning frost, as I drive home from morning drop off. Unless my husband wrote it (possible), it was likely authored in fleece by one of my gloved children. My first thought is to remember to tell them, “we don’t speak like this” — except, “we” do after two decades on a trading floor and living through 2020. My second thought is, “Well, at least they’re honest”. Because, lately, I do. Suck, I mean.
Covid is making me mean. Cranky. And luckily, I don’t have it. And haven’t. I do realize how fortunate I am. The numbers are rising and as careful as we all are, I realize the extreme risk. But, on a physiological, psychological, live-in-my-house-and-barely-leave-ogical, Covid is making my mind, illogical. I am tired, irritable and short. And, this is coming from someone who is only 5’4”.
This is typically my favorite time of year. I love the magic of the holidays, buying presents, spreading real, live cheer. But, this year, I feel like Scrooch McGrinch. I did stay up ‘til all hours of the night trying to acquire an elusive PS5 for my son, but I refused to pay the $1,500 eBay secondary-market mark-up to make it happen. Maybe this just makes me rational. Actually, logical. But, it’s more than that. Normally, I would do this with a smile, knowing I was seeking out the sought after to make my son the happiest kid on Christmas morning. This year, I feel like I checked the box, did my duty, and he can be happy with a pair of Under Armour pants I found on sale online on Black Friday. Bah Humbug.
My kids are around. All. The. Time. They were the most wanted children in the world, after all sorts of medical intervention. And, yet, I find myself wondering if I could send them to one of those suburban legend dog farms. Just for a week or so. In a former life I might have found their murderous bickering to be the sweet sound of a lively home. But, the constant screech of, “get away from me”, and “don’t touch me”, and “Mom! He [choose choice of bodily harm]-ed me!” I feel like the sound came from a too-sharp, cheese slicer in my kitchen. Grating and bloody. Ok, my kitchen tools don’t really look like this. And I really wouldn’t send my kids to the proverbial farm…
I find myself going to bed, feeling terrible. For yelling about, well, everything – not being able to listen to one more request for Vbucks (No), or inquiry about where a mask/gator/face covering may be (Wherever you left it), or yelling to find a gymnastics leotard (Did you check the laundry room). For my overreaction to shoes being strewn about the house, everyone going to bed too late, not putting away devices, or them being the most ungrateful kids on earth. And, I am the parent. Are these infractions just a function of me being a bad teacher? I think we learned the answer to that during remote school last year.
Just watching the Apple Usage update each week, which some even meaner person created to laugh at families from afar, confirms I’ve spent more time on my phone than being an actual parent. It is a haunting reminder of how absent my eyes have been from those around me –despite my being in my house. Being the Zoom planner for four other people living through this dumpster fire requires a LOT of texting. Finally, I just turn the lights out, stop the self-flagellation and go to bed.
I used to be fun, way back in 2019. I swear. Somehow the last nine months have worn me down, and ruined my hair like a two-term presidency. I used to plan scavenger hunts to find tickets for Taylor Swift concerts. Hell, we used to go to concerts. And, I love a surprise vacation to anywhere and last-minute trips to the diner for eggs for breakfast OR dinner. But, this is not an environment in which we can do any of those things. And, while I get that I am supposed to retrain my brain for what we can do, not what we can’t, I am tired of puzzles, unimpressive baking and freezing outdoor gatherings, if any at all.
My mom told me yesterday she’s not coming for Christmas. Well, she didn’t TELL me. With my mom you need to read between the lines, because she never actually comes out and says anything that might create conflict. She is the opposite of my newfound loud setting. Which is why I need her to come, to be the yin to my yang. But, what I take away from, “I have something on December 20th” is that she’s waiting for a vaccine. Dr. Fauci would be proud (and obviously I am, too). My brother swears it’s the right thing, but with loved ones facing incredible adversity in various ways over the last year, I’m forced to wonder. Pandemic or not, how long we are meant to put off ‘til tomorrow what we can do today? Don’t worry, I’m not really going to go anywhere or see anyone. I just want to. And, I appreciate the difficulty of the dynamic and this new way of thinking about things. But, we are putting off life for the certainty of a future that has no guarantees and never did. Carpe diem, be gone. Or, maybe I just miss my mom.
I’m wondering how I’ve become a yeller. And thinking it’s because not only are we together all the time, but because we aren’t around anyone else. Playdates, Friday cocktails with friends, dinner parties, sporting events, concerts not on Zoom, Thanksgiving, holidays with family…they ensure you on your best behavior. Remind us how to treat one another when we haven’t completely let our guard down. My guard has been in the basement eight months. I know we should treat the people we care about the most the best, but maybe the ourselves we are meant to be need to be reminded once in a while.
I guess it’s the culmination of these things that has led to my thin (the only small part of me) patience. And, here is my blanket apology, to all that have dealt with me in 2020 – anyone reading my writing, anyone texting me, anyone living with me, anyone who still, shockingly loves and cares about me. I am sorry. But, kids are kind of amazing. They tell me I’m nice, and they think I am fun. And they even like being around me. Which is kind of insane. Because, the sign in my driver side mirror, is correct. For the moment. I asked my son if he drew something on my minivan’s mirror. He said, “huh?” When prompted he said…”oh, yeah…did you like it?” I gave him a hug and said yes. I’m kitchen sinking 2020, leaving that sign behind-ish. Because, then I said, “We don’t talk that way”. Here’s to 2021. Happy Holidays.
*Regarding the picture above, I found it is VERY hard to take a picture in a mirror without just getting yourself or your phone in the picture. Who knew? Aside from all the Gen Z selfie mirror picture takers. If you look though, I promise it’s there.
About Alexis Gold
Alexis Gold holds a BS from Cornell University. She spent more than two decades on Wall Street, where she was a top ranked analyst by Institutional Investor. While on the buy side her creative writing was used to analyze companies, primarily in the retail space. Following the recent closing of her last fund, she decided to stay at home with her three small children. Her writing has been featured in Read650 and offers a funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in NYC/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom.
About Suburbs 101
Suburbs 101 is an online lifestyle guide for the New York Suburbs of Westchester County, Long Island, Fairfield County and Northern New Jersey. Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live in the New York suburbs through our interviews with local suburbanites and features on Food, Fashion, Home, Travel, and Local Events. Be sure to Follow Us on Instagram, Like Us on Facebook and subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter.