May 8, 2020

Never go back to normal: a tale of 12 moms

Ashley Walters

Chief Development Officer, Partner

Disclaimer - this blog post is not about advertising, other than the fact that I work for an advertising agency. You will not learn any tips or tricks on how to grow your business or rebound after COVID-19. It’s not that kind of article. It’s simply a reflection of the blessings, joys, and incredible bonding that has resulted from staying at home with our kids for nine straight weeks and living to tell the tale. Still interested? Well, then come on in...

I’ve struggled, like so many moms. My girls are four and one and depend on us for everything. Three – scratch that – twenty meals a day, potty breaks and diaper changes, entertainment (which is mostly Disney+), education (when there’s time), popsicles when I need silence, kisses for boo-boos, rocking when tired, and everything in-between. My husband works in the medical industry and he spends his days getting PPE into the hands of front-line workers. Meanwhile, I spend my days generating votes for America's favorite golden retriever or writing a brief for a new client pitch. He wins. 

The transition from full-time working mom to full-time working and full-time mom/housekeeper/cook/dishwasher/teacher, was fierce, swift and came with so many emotions I didn’t know one person could feel. My days are defined by my kids as: work and no work. My hours are designated as: call or no call. And every minute feels like a precious jewel that I have to use wisely. 

Like many of you reading this, I’ve had my fair share of challenges and embarrassments. I changed a poopy diaper while on a video conference call with our executive leadership team. I’ve hit mute as fast as my fingers can manage to cover up screams for a variety of reasons, usually around which Frozen movie to watch. My oldest daughter ran into my lap during a new business video pitch and told the prospect about the cavities she had when she was three. It wasn’t an oral care prospect. 

But through all of this (the sweatpants, messy hair, no makeup and all), there are so many things I will cherish forever. I talked with a dozen mothers in advertising across the country who, like me, are experiencing the highs and lows of staying at home. And I asked them one simple question, “What is the one thing you are going to miss about all of this when we go back to normal?” Here’s what they said:

What Moms Will Miss Most
  • Morning showers and frantic find-the-keys moments have been replaced with warm snuggles, tiny giggles, and welcomed conversations about dreams, plans for the day, and favorite Disney princesses. 
  • Starbucks coffee breaks are now 10-minute tea (for her) coffee (for me) parties.
  • Text chains/google hangouts with other moms sharing our stories and advice. I’ve never felt a stronger bond with other moms. 
  • Putting my baby down for a nap every day (and sitting with her on the window seat for an hour singing songs and reading books before she'll agree to wander over to her crib).
  • 10 am dance parties in our PJs because we are all still in our PJs. 
  • Cooking together in the kitchen. Heck, just eating every meal together.
  • Trading my morning commute for extra sleep and extra snuggles
  • Involving my kids in a workout with me every morning.
  • Watching the bond between siblings form in ways that could never happen before.
  • Having my baby sitting on my lap and giving his shy waves to the people on the screen. I'm going to miss him seeing me type and wanting to have a turn on the keyboard.
  • A random hug or kiss and the constant smiles and belly laughter when you least expect it, or need it most.
  • Quick walks to stop a meltdown or a long walk to slow down and talk about life, likes, dislikes. I’ve learned so much about my little one just by walking and talking.

You see what moms really want is simple. A minute here. A minute there. It’s a sound or a touch that they will miss most. 

One mother so eloquently told me, “In a way, quarantining is a lot like those early days of motherhood where you are the center of your children’s universe. In the first few months after they are born, you are their lifeline, source of food and comfort, guide, and teacher.” 

This is a lot like that. Cue my postpartum tears. Our kids grow up fast. They develop unique personalities, interests, and activities. And our bond remains strong but somehow different. Our role is different. We are back to being their everything. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience that feeling again. 

Honestly, I’m afraid to go back to “normal.” I hate that phrase because I’m not sure what we were doing before was normal. As we embark on the one day where we celebrate mothers (Happy Mother’s Day to all of you fierce mommas), my advice is to redefine your normal. When we are all finally back in the office, sitting face-to-face (albeit six feet apart), find a way, once in a while, to remember the joy that came from this moment. Take that extra vacation day to stay home together. Take more walks, cook more meals together, and definitely find time to PJ dance. Show grace to a mom if she asks to work from home because she simply wants to be the one who puts her little one down for an afternoon nap. Take the good from this chaos, find your one thing, and make it your new normal.

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