Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was tired.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she had expectations about herself and who she was and how productive she ought to be, and isn’t that a funny thing?

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived before a pandemic, and she was in a river, metaphorically speaking, rushing along, pulled by the current of parenting and productivity and progress. The Before Times, she calls it now that she lives in the After Times. The Before Times with a social schedule and appointments and meetings and seeing whole faces at the grocery store. The Before Times, that rushing river, sweeping her through her days from alarm bells in the morning, running running running to What’s Next, usually late, blaming herself that Functional People seemed to be stronger swimmers, heads above water, accomplishing more than her, even while navigating the rapids. 

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived before a pandemic, and she saw the warning signs along the bank that Danger may be Ahead. A worldwide sickness. A deadly force making its way steadily forward. But it was the Before Times, and she’d seen warning signs before that didn’t come to fruition—earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, fires—so she didn’t worry much. Even if the pandemic came, it would be for a season, she thought, like Spring. Perhaps through Summer? Maybe even a year. But she didn’t expect—not really—that she’d be ten months in and anticipating ten months more. At least. Initially, she thought in terms of weeks. Two weeks? Three? Four is a whole month. Then she thought in terms of months. Then a year. A year and a half. Now, she realizes it may approach two. Two years. Next Spring? 2022? If we’re lucky. If enough people are vaccinated. If the vaccines protect against the new variants. If we learn what percentage of the population is required to achieve herd immunity. If if if if if if if.

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was both glad to leave the river of the Before Times—adios, packed schedule!—and disoriented in the spill and swell of the After Times. Her introvert self didn’t mind all the Not Talking and Not Socializing. It was nice not to say no or need a reason to lay low and be quiet. But it was also stressful to swirl in the eddies of the unknown, caught in conflicting currents, dragged ‘round and ‘round. How do we do this safely? How do we protect mental health? When is an eddy a whirlpool? When is it a maelstrom? 

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she noticed changes in her body. An invisible weight on her shoulders. Aching in her joints. Tension in her jaw. Increased, generalized pain. More dips into the ibuprofen bottle. Depression? She wondered. Time for a medication adjustment? Or just, you know, living during a pandemic and political upheaval and civil unrest and racial injustice and economic crisis? Hitting the pandemic wall. Smack. Straight to the face. Or both. Maybe both. Probably both. All of the above. 

Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was tired. Viscerally. And realizing this could have been a much shorter blog post, because that really captured the whole essence, anyway. But she wasn’t the only one who was tired and turning turning turning ‘round and around, and sometimes it’s enough to know you’re not alone. 

So, you know, I just thought I’d throw this out there to let you know. In case you’re that person, too. 

With love and waving in the dark,





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20 responses to “Once upon a time there was a woman who lived during a pandemic, and she was tired.”

  1. Thank you Beth. I was getting really down last Easter and decided I needed to do something with myself so started volunteering with the food bank here in Las Vegas. We give out food in school parking lots, as the cars drive through we load it in their trunks and off they go. It meant being outside, moving, and interacting with others safely. It was hot in the summer and is cold in the winter but has helped. I am sad to realize there will be another Easter like the last. What I have realized is I miss meaningful conversation. Look forward to sitting down with someone and sharing. You do such a beautiful job. Thank you again.

  2. Waving back in the dark (from bed, very behind on deadlines, and feeling like everyone else has their shit so, so much more together). Thank you for your honesty, and your irreverence (and your warmth and humanness, and for the driving kindness that shines through it all). How lucky is your family to have a mama (and a human), that is you. Xx

  3. In all the pandemic stuff, my family had the added stress of my sister having a high risk pregnancy of twins, and all the associated dr.s appointments, reliving the stress of her past pregnancy of twins that ended traumatically at 22 weeks. This week we are done with pregnancy and have two sweet little ones to snuggle both weighing 7 pounds! And they only needed two days in NICU.
    So tired, so ready for rest, so going to snuggle and ignore the world around me.

  4. Waving in the dark. And so tired, too, emotionally, physically, mentally, and all other ways. Such a good reminder that we’re all in this together and not as “alone” as we might sometimes feel.

  5. You are such a beautiful writer. I want to lift some of these words off the page and steal them for myself. Just reading this post makes me feel like I’ve stolen them already–but as you have shared your words openly, I guess I’m not much of a thief. The part about “…disoriented in the spill and swell of the After Times…” Wow. You should turn this post into a poem!

  6. I am SO tired. Tired of trying to keep everyone’s spirits up. Tired of having to be mom aaaaallll the time. Wondering where “me” has gone to hide. If I stop and think about our circumstances I think I would just lose it so I just go day by day, one moment to the next, and hope one of these days I can breathe again.

  7. I hear you and offer another perspective. Think about us seniors who have had a year or more stolen from what remains of our lives. Our inability to travel and visit grandkids combined with declining health means the chance of meaningful lives away from home is dimming. We each are affected in our own unique way but this version of cabin fever is really galling to the oldest part of the population.

  8. Oh, Beth. I love your posts for a lot of reasons, but never before have you hit the nail on the head so precisely – and that’s saying something. I tried to journal this morning. You know, gratitude and all. And I actually wrote something to the effect of ‘so, why am I not happy?’ And then, I proceeded to write about how that was a ridiculous question and an absurd expectation. And yet… round and round it goes. Good lord.

  9. Thank you <3 I am also so. tired. Tired even though I'm getting enough sleep (miraculously) and eating decently and even getting some exercise. I hit some kind of wall last week, after the insanity of January, and for the first time started to wonder if I'll recover from this round of deep, overtaking exhaustion. Whew. Waving to you!

  10. I am glad to see a post from you, as always.

    Not gonna lie: I have not seen much upside in the After Times. I’m an extrovert who misses seeing friends and just PEOPLE outside the three people who live with me in my home. I miss the life I had in the Before Times. I am no less busy now than before, and I am doing everything under more difficult circumstances.

    I have lost track of where I was going with this. I too am extremely tired.

  11. Beth, does it sound weird to say I am so very glad to see your post— not of course to read how deeply exhausted you are (my heart goes out to you) but because I have missed hearing from you… feels like a long time since you posted!… your insights are a blessing and encouragement… please take care of yourself.

  12. Thank you for this. I have been beating myself up, stressing that I should be more (much more) productive with this gift of time. So much time. No energy, doing only what is absolutely necessary. Feeding our pets. Feeding myself and husband. Period. That is all I can do right now. I hear you.

  13. I feel this deep in my soul. I’m a fourth grade teacher doing in person and virtual teaching simultaneously, I have a very extroverted toddler and husband, and I’m pregnant. I’m deeply, viscerally exhausted. I keep reminding my coworkers, as we hit walls and keep plowing along, that chronic stress = trauma and this is still pandemic life. It’s so incredibly hard to keep paddling as the waters and the stakes rise and rise, and there’s just no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Whew. That was darker than I planned. There is light; there is always light. I just can’t see it yet.

  14. Yeah, same. Honestly the pandemic hasn’t affected me much, since I’m a WFH hermit anyway. Feels like I’ve trained for this.

    But starting to get concerned about school for next year…will they extend virtual options? If they do, will my teen will have it in him to do another year? He’s not like me, so it’s tougher on him. Still, I think he prefers it to the alternative of losing a parent.

    We really weren’t thinking about distance learning for years, but it’s starting to sink in that we might be doing that and…ugh.

  15. I thought about you the other night when I was awake in the middle of the night and I said “waving to you in the dark!”
    I feel like you wrote my story in this post!!
    Every day I think, wow, I’ve reached a new level of tires. Then the next day comes, and again, I’m surprised!
    Waving to you in the dark and light!

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