That kid-free trip to Target is not going to bring you back to life

Photo: Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

But lately, all over Instagram accounts and the Facebook mom groups I belong to, I’m seeing something that troubles me — a subtle message that can be misleading and even downright damaging.

The message? That fulfilling our basic human needs counts as self-care.

I’ve seen moms write that their time in the bathroom without any kids climbing on them is like “a mini-vacation.” Or that they got seven hours of sleep for the first time in months and now they’re…

And complain sometimes, too.

I said to my sister on the phone the other day, “Sometimes I feel like I’m suffocating by my life”.

Now, before any of you start to worry that I am falling off the deep end, I’m not. But, some days, suffocation by my reality as a stay at home mom feels, well….real.

It’s so hard to imagine something before you begin it.

Kind of like how you can tell someone all day long that having a child is both the hardest and most beautiful thing they will ever experience.

How the newborn phase can make you feel like you are going to die from sleep deprivation (you won’t). But…

If I’m being honest — I’m not a silver linings kind of girl. And this year was kind of the worst.

But, when I reflect on this year, I can think of a lot of things that I hope stay the same.

I hope people will still stay home when they’re sick.

I’m going to be honest, this change in our society is not a bad thing. Neither is being considerate of others by not spreading your germs to the entire world. Oh — and keep washing those hands.

I hope we don’t stop worrying about social justice issues.


As panic around the Coronavirus began to rise back in March, I texted my brother one day to check in, because he seems to be the one in my inner circle that was the most calm about all of it. But, he actually responded that he was surprised I was so calm.

And, he was right. I wasn’t freaking out. I was calmer than ever.

I’m a mom to three kids, and have a husband that works in the largest hospital in the state of Utah. Yet, I wasn’t panicking. …

Just typing those words leaves me feeling empty and scared.

I know I will be judged for them by the childless, the sanctimommies, and the empty nesters that say with a hand over their heart, “But it goes so fast!”

As I sit on my couch trying to think my own thoughts, three tired children who went to bed way too late last night creep next to me to peer over my shoulder at whatever it is I’m trying to work on, and muster the tiresome words I’m sick of hearing, “I’m bored.”

I groan inside feeling guilt that I…

I’m happy that the yoga worked for you.

I’m happy that the essential oils did something.

I’m happy that you just practiced more self care.

I’m happy for you that meditation does the trick.

I’m happy for you that getting off the standard American diet worked for you and “IS THE ONLY WAY TO LIVE!”

I know you want me to trust you. You say — ”Just try it.”

“Just do a little more deep breathing, and open your mind a little to your feelings and FEEL them.”

I know that you think it’s just the stage of life I’m in.

I’m glad that counting your blessings really helped you get through your…

The one that I imagined and the one I actually am.

Sometimes I make perfect meals full of veggies and my kids eat them.

Sometimes I’m scrambling and we end up eating a mix of randoms from the fridge like string cheese and ketchup for dinner.

Sometimes I have cookies baked when they come home from school.

Sometimes I am cranky and tired and make them do chores and yell a whole bunch until somebody is crying.

Sometimes I am calm in the mornings before school and help them make their lunches.

Sometimes I’m grumpily barking orders and breathe a…

Because kids will make you lose it in ways you never imagined.

One night, we were putting the kids to bed, and had all the windows open. I was giving my kids a semi-loud lecture on listening when I heard the doorbell ring.

My first thought was, “Oh crap. What did they just hear?”

The cute older couple had smiles on their faces as I blurted out without thinking, “Did you hear me lecturing my kids?”

They smiled like older couples who are done raising their kids do, and said, “No. Did they need lecturing?” I laughed it off while…

I’m stronger because of it.

I prepped myself for a few weeks. I knew what I had to do as I made the appointment with my doctor. I had been in therapy for almost a year. It was helping, but it wasn’t. I knew I needed that pill.

I felt numb as I went through the motions to get it.

It felt like an out of body experience to mutter those words anxiety and depression to my doctor. I half-way listened as the pharmacist talked to me about side effects and how to take it and when. I knew the drill. I had been here before. …

Because everything else feels impossible.

I’m no stranger to mental illness. I come by it honestly in my DNA, and I’ve also been privy to debilitating depression and anxiety that are situational.

My official diagnosis includes Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, with a touch of Depression to keep me honest, I suppose.

A few years ago, I was in the throes of a depression like I had never experienced before. Anxiety I knew how to manage, and my OCD was under control most days, but depression? It was mysterious to me. …

Meredith Ethington

Meredith Ethington, Author - Mom Life: Perfection Pending, Blogger at and Editor in Chief of

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