February 8, 2021

For the Women Holding So Much during a Pandemic: This is the Promise we Need to Make to Ourselves.

A pinch less than two years ago, I wrote a gentle manifesto about how much women hold.

About how tiring it is to lug so much. About choosing to set down some of our load. I wrote about what I’d decided to put down so I could finally finish the book I’d been burning to write.

You know that old saying about if you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans?

Just after I wrote that, my dad got sick. Really sick.

Then he died.

Then my mom had a medical crisis.

Then we had to settle my dad’s estate.

And I still had kids (who were now grieving) and a marriage and work and a puppy and a home and those books that seer in me, waiting to be let out.


By last February, life had finally settled a bit. My grief had softened a smidge. The stream of paperwork that death brings slowed. For a moment, once again, I’d carved out a tiny bit of space for myself.

It felt sweet. Foreign. Lush.

And then it was gone.


The COVID-19 pandemic hit and our kids were home and we were trying to figure out remote learning and we were scared. That luscious space was gone, and not only had the space evaporated, but our entire lives had been vacuum-packed. Everything was smooshed together—workhomeschool. Borders blurred. All the oxygen had been sucked out. I could barely breathe.

Women, during the pandemic, are holding so very much.

It’s been nearly a year, and no one’s rushing in to save us.

Still, I’m looking ahead. Life will eventually return to some semblance of what it used to be. Kids will go back to school. The boundaries between the different chunks of our lives will begin to regain definition.

But I don’t want to forget how I feel right now. How time-starved I am. How hungry I am to write. How low I’ve had to drop my expectations of myself and others to survive. How I’m not the mom or wife or writer I want to be.

I am saying this now, before the pandemic ends: we need to be very careful about what we choose to pick back up when life begins to resume.

Maybe this means we volunteer less. Maybe it means we stop labeling the pursuit of our dreams as selfish when a man doing it would be labeled ambitious.

Maybe it means we take inventory of all the ways we toss our time away. For instance, I refuse to go back to hitting the grocery store four times a week because I forgot avocados. I refuse to re-clutter my writing time with appointments and housework and errands.

Sometimes we need to set down our old, crusty beliefs. Like I shouldn’t need to outsource childcare or housework. Like I’ll take care of myself later, after everyone else is settled. Beliefs we were gestated in well before we had a choice in what we were willing to swallow and what we might decide to spit back up.

Maybe we’re no longer available for work that sucks the life out of us, or toxic family members, or unequal relationships.

Maybe we decide to maintain the level of self-care that we’ve stumbled upon in our search to stay sane during the pandemic. Whatever we might need to thrive instead of just survive, it’s time to make note of it. To say, I’m setting this sh*t down.

Maybe the most revolutionary thing a woman can do is whatever the f*ck she wants to do.

Maybe the way we get there is by dropping our unnecessary burdens. By becoming buoyant and light.

Say it now, say it with me:

My desires matter.

My dreams matter.

My well-being matters.

My rest matters.

My time is not a renewable resource.

My time is not a renewable resource.

I’m ready to set it down.


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