When you’re always in control, the uncertainty of our “new normal” can feel unsettling. One local mother shares her experience.
“I am totally flexible … as long as everything is exactly the way I want it.”
Does that sound like you? It sums me up perfectly. I epitomize the Type A personality: I thrive on to-do lists, organization, perfectionism and being control.
Control, however, is something the coronavirus pandemic has taken away from us. Uncertainty, fear and chaos have become the reality.
Coping with coronavirus as a Type A personality hasn’t been easy. I’m way outside of my comfort zone and am surrounded by a cloud of generalized of anxiety.
Since I do not have control over events on the macro level, I am finding ways to have control over things in my life on a micro-level. Here are some examples:
The first room I tackled was the playroom. Just looking at it made me feel unsettled. Then I went through every single item in my daughter’s room and sorted her things into three categories: keep, donate and throw away. Next I moved onto the kitchen pantry. Out came my clear plastic bins and label maker. Now we can easily find what we are looking for and identify what needs to be replaced.
My dining room has turned into the puzzle room. I am not someone who typically sits down to work on a 500 piece puzzle, but there is something so cathartic about puzzles. First, it turns off your brain and allows you to focus on just the task at hand. Second, there is clearly a right and a wrong way of putting the pieces together. Third, once the puzzle is completed, you get a rush and feel such a sense of accomplishment.
I enjoy reading very much but find it hard to do it. I can’t read at night because I am always so tired I fall asleep after reading just a few pages. Having more unstructured time during the day allows me to get comfortable on the couch and delve into my pile of unread books.
Writing is very cathartic for me. Putting my thoughts on paper allows them to escape my brain, thereby reducing my anxiety, and sometimes I am better able to express them in writing rather than talking. I have no expectation of how often I write but always feel better afterward.
I enjoy a brisk walk outside. I need to sweat, get an endorphin rush, listen to my podcasts and enjoy the fresh air. (Let’s be honest: I also enjoy the time to myself!)
Despite the fact that I am most comfortable living an organized, structured and predictable life, I must confess that I have been enjoying having a break from my old ways. Once I accepted the fact that I’d have to give up control, I decided to take advantage of not having to live such a rigid lifestyle.
It is very freeing to not have to run from appointment to appointment or drive the kids to and from school and activities or take care of daily errands. It wasn’t until I was forced to give all of that up that I realized how exhausting and stressful my “old life” was.
My focus now is on sustaining my family’s health and happiness. My daughters, husband and I have spent more quality time together in the last few weeks than we had in last few months. Obviously there are still household expectations about responsibilities and behaviors, but I want the four of us to look back on our quarantined time with happy memories.
I think about what my life will look like once the pandemic ends. There are so many unknowns. Will things go back to the way they were or will there be permanent changes in how things are done? As a Type A personality, I look forward to having a fixed schedule and to-do lists again, but I must admit that I will also be sad to give up the freedom from it all that I am enjoying now.
—BY MERIDITH JACOBS
Meridith Jacobs of Potomac is the mother of two girls. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, she was a lawyer and career advisor. Meridith likes to craft, read, spend time with family and friends and travel during her free time.
If you’re a mom or dad in the area with a story to share about parenting, we’d love to hear from you. Please send your personal essay (700 words or less) with a short bio and a photo to our editor, Jessica Gregg, at firstname.lastname@example.org