After working a full day (from home), including helping my new kindergartener with distance “learning,” I went to the grocery store with my child, both wearing our masks of course and taking all of the social distancing protocols seriously, etc. I brought my own bags because the Governor’s Executive Order re-instated the bag tax, and I really hate the new (very thick) plastic bags because they can’t be recycled in my blue garbage bin. In the check-out line the cashier told me they cannot touch my personal bags, but asked if I wanted to pay 10 cents to have them bag my groceries in their bags. I declined. So I loaded some of my groceries in the bags, but frankly I couldn’t go fast enough between trying to pay for them and also corralling my stir-crazy kid who is, for the most part, on house arrest. So I just shoved the rest of the groceries in my cart, took them outside to 105+ degree heat (yay, historic heat wave!), and packed the rest in the car—inconveniencing myself instead of others.
Now, I completely understand the position of the grocery store and in no way fault the cashier, but it’s exhausting. And at this point, we know COVID-19 isn’t transmitted via surface contact (so my bags are safe, and cleaner than ever now that I obsessively launder them, but not during 3-10pm because now I’m also responsible for the statewide energy grid, which could go dark any minute…).
On days like this, everywhere I turn, I feel like every structure in place is actively working against me.
I’m a full-time employee. Now I’m also a full-time teacher. I cook more than ever because we can’t dine out. I shoulder all of the cleaning burdens because I can’t hire anyone outside the home to help. I have no babysitters or childcare available to take a break. We can’t hug or visit Grandma. There are no open playgrounds, or even a neighborhood pool (we’re in a private HOA) to unwind. And now, no one will even help a tired working mom put groceries back in a cart.
It feels personal.
I’ve done nothing wrong and I feel like I’m being punished on a daily basis.
I was barely holding it together pre-pandemic, but I was making the balancing act work and starting to move past the mom guilt that comes with the career-mom territory. Now I’m on the brink of collapse. I try to act resigned to all of this, but I’m truly, madly, deeply… ANGRY.
You know that part in the Avengers movie where Captain America says, “Doctor Banner, now might be a good time for you to get angry,” and Bruce (the Hulk) answers, “That’s my secret Captain. I’m always angry”? Well, I’m now Bruce Banner. I’m always angry. My natural state of being is just this deep-set simmering rage. I’ll become the Hulk at the ballot box, but I hope that’s where my rage stays directed. Because I’m worried that the collective banalities of this pandemic-life will completely consume me with a rage that will never shut off again. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to forgive, let alone forget, how alone, helpless, and attacked I feel once we crawl out of this hell hole.
Submitted by L.K., Sacramento County – Elk Grove.