This year, between politics and the pandemic, my emotional pendulum has swung in such far extremes that I feel like I no longer know myself. The other day, I glanced at my almost-consistent daily journal entries this year since March, and what it revealed was this: I’ve either had really positive days or really bad ones. The middle—the in-between, the so-so, the uneventful— seems to be entirely missing. It’s not that “the center cannot hold”—it simply doesn’t seem to exist.
My highs and lows show up most consistently in the kind of mother I have become. I have faint memories of being a really chill, loving, “let’s skip naptime and craft instead” kind of mom. Actually, I have no memories of that—faint or otherwise—but I know that person existed, because I have a million pictures on my phone that pop up like clockwork every day reminding me of how much fun I used to have with my kids when they were all in their respective schools and daycare.
Lecturing my seven and five-year-old on the importance of education, and telling them about children in other countries begging and cleaning instead of going to school, has emerged as yet another favorite activity of mine. I just have to dare them to look away from their Google Classroom for a second, you know.
The other day, I found myself telling my three-year-old to please stop touching me. It was 8:00 p.m., and I had had enough of being around three energetic, happy, and eager kids who for some reason haven’t gotten sick of me yet. I would think that 60 seconds of someone leaving me alone would have been plenty to recalibrate my sanity. Alas, there was no chance of that.
I have also started taking immense pleasure in vacuuming. There is something soothing in a loud noise drowning out everything else around me—not to mention the nice clean pattern left behind on the carpet, which lets me know everything will be okay.
Please, don’t let me make you believe that it’s all crummy times around here, because I do have some good news to share with you: I am pregnant. Baby Gujarathi is due in January 2021, making the final count four kids versus two adults. Because not being able to drink alcohol was the last challenge I needed to overcome this year.
Alright. Okay. So did you laugh at least once while reading this? Because really, that would make it all worth it for me! In all sincerity, though, I hope that when the going gets hard—as it does often for me these days—you find a way to channel the chaos into laughs. I’ve never been so good at embracing my shortcomings and waking up every day knowing that I will try my best to give my family, myself, and this world all the kindness, patience, and positivity I can muster.
And while it does feel like we’re holding it all together with a Q-tip and a used piece of tape, let’s just remember that children have fickle memories and that these could be the good ol’ days in the making.
CHIKA GUJARATHI is a Raleigh-based writer and author of the Hello Namaste! children’s books. Her work can be found on her blog The Antibland Chronicles. Comment on this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices is made possible by contributions to the INDY Press Club.