The Task of Finding Myself Again

Summer is waning, the masks are off, and Target is filling up with pencils and crayons and backpacks. As I think about my kids getting on a school bus at long last in a few weeks, I start to feel equal parts excitement and dread.

I wasn’t expecting the dread.

It sat in the pit of my stomach for most of the summer. As I interrogated what I was afraid of, I kept coming up empty. I wasn’t dreading my kids being back in a classroom, or my husband going back to the office, or the quiet house during the day.

I was dreading the task of finding myself again.

For the last 460-ish days, I have been Quarantine Mom. Social-Distancing Mom. Masks-on Mom. Get-Your-Vaccine-So-My-Kids-Can-Go-Back-to-School Mom.

We have been virtual schooling this whole time. My oldest son has not set foot in his school since March 13, 2020. He left a first grader and will return a third grader. And my youngest was a preschooler — we delayed kindergarten for a year because he has disabilities and virtual wasn’t a good fit. It’s been a long and exhausting journey. But now it’s time.

As a stay-at-home mom, pre-pandemic, I fought hard to maintain an identity as a human being outside of “just a mom.” I taught fitness classes. I had a side business. I went out with friends and volunteered and attended church.

The pandemic took all that away from me. I let it happen. I was tired. I was in survival mode teaching second grade and keeping everyone healthy and making meals and doing dishes and laundry, dishes and laundry, dishes and laundry. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t socialize. I hunkered down, flinging myself over my family like a shield from a flurry of arrows.

The kids are fine. I am left, however, plucking out the damage and putting myself back together.

So as I count the days until I watch the big yellow bus roll away, I can’t help but feel a little afraid to have my time back, afraid to start finding myself.

I want to exercise again. I want to feel healthy.

woman donating blood
There’s a national blood shortage right now. If you’re able, go donate!

I want to re-engage with my community and volunteer.

I want to memorize the names of every starting quarterback in the NFL because I can.

I want to use my brain. I want to read a book.

I want to remember what it’s like to miss my kids by 2 p.m. and wonder about what they’re doing.

I want to go more than an hour without being touched or used as a tissue.

I’ve lost myself. I’m going to find her again. I think she’s pretty cool, but she still feels far away.
So I’m going to be thrilled and a little nervous to see that big yellow bus roll away come August. My kids will be fine, and I’m coming back.
Brie Hilton lives in the Northland is a stay-at-home mom with multiple side hustles in the Northland. Her oldest son, Charlie, is 7 and has his own pet-sitting business and outsmarts his parents at least three times a week. Her youngest, Patrick, is 5 and has cerebral palsy and autism, so she considers herself an expert on navigating the special needs life on way too little sleep. In her spare time (ha), Brie teaches group fitness classes, has a boutique in her basement, naps too much, and actively ignores the piles of laundry on the floor.

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