• Carmen Graham

REAL MOMS: Lauren turns over a new leaf

Every month, we like introducing you to women we love. And on Mothering and Wellness Week, you'll meet a mom who's killing it...whatever their method. Last month, you met our columnist Cristina Bustamante and we all fantasized about that solo hotel life. This month, Lauren Berry, our Seattle columnist, shares feelings about the last 6 months that you 1000% can relate to. Don't take our word for it. Read on and send to a friend who needs to hear this.

Fall is my favorite season. Even in the Northwest where May - August is our only hope for sunshine, the Fall is still my favorite. It brings a sense of nostalgia, crisp air, warm candles, and the start of something new. There’s so much hype in the New Year planning, but I prefer setting new intentions and creating new routines at the start of the school year. Typically those routines center on how we can achieve more, be better than we were yesterday, streamline our days so we can manage that extra soccer practice, piano class, or volunteer commitment. This year though? I’m not optimizing for more or better, I’m optimizing for joy.

There’s been an ebb and flow of this quarantine. The first few weeks during the Spring there was a buzz, almost a quiet excitement you feel on a snow day. Inconvenienced, yes, but secretly relishing the gift of a day away from work or school. It felt like that awkward smile you wear when you’re telling someone bad news. We all downloaded the Houseparty app and drank wine into the evenings dancing to DJ Nice’s live sets.

And then two weeks turned into one month, and then two months went by. We realized our kids weren’t going back to school, but we’re still too naive to realize they wouldn’t be back in the Fall either.


Fast forward nearly 6 months later. We’re barely seeing our friends and families, kids aren’t playing team sports, we’re not going to concerts, we’re not leaving the dang house. I sit here today having been forced completely inside almost a week now due to the historic wildfire smoke on the west coast. All of our previous methods of how we filled our tank have been taken from us. We've reached a new level in 2020, and I’m not gonna sugar coat it. Most of my dear friends I speak to these days are openly discussing their declining mental health. We’re not okay. On top of the pandemic, the uprising of black Americans and the backlash with it, the upcoming election, and the ish-show that is distance learning, we all still have our own set of unique battles that come along with life. It's becoming too much. I’m hearing and seeing that many women are openly discussing their use or need of antidepressants. There is so much to bear, and so much that we feel.

And while the definition of “turning over a new leaf,” means to begin a more refreshed and responsible way, I’m switching it up. My responsibility is to find and keep joy in my household, and it's not always easily found. Instead of clamping down on screen time limits - the most common Summer to Fall rule switch - I’m allowing an extra game or two of Fortnite for my 5th grader. It’s the only time he really socially interacts with his friends. The only time I hear him cackling, joking, and playing in a way that only kids can do with other kids. I don’t care to turn it off because I'm “supposed to.”

Wednesdays at our house have organically become “Chick-fil-A Wednesdays.” I have no idea how or why but it makes my children incredibly happy and they look forward to it all week. We all sit down and eat together, and the bonus is that I’m not cooking or doing much kitchen clean up. So yes, we will keep our newfound tradition of weekly chicken nuggets.

My husband and I just discovered the total delight of an afternoon hooky date to grab a mid-day cocktail and go shopping. Chalk it under my new motto of, “I’ll allow it.”

We’re living in unprecedented times. There are a lot of stressors in our environments. The normal scripts are not applicable. It’s critical we take care of ourselves and help our family to do the same. Right now, it's less important to me that my child read a grade level ahead than it is that he is connected with other children. It’s less important that we have perfectly balanced meals every night than it is that we eat together and have something to look forward to. It's less important that I am well on my way to a promotion or squeeze in an extra workout, than it is that I find moments of fun in my relationship with my spouse.

Going back to work this summer, I ended up taking around a 15% pay cut in order to land in a position where I wouldn’t be managing a large team or pushing myself from 7am - 6pm. I need the balance this season. It's a choice and a sacrifice, and honestly a bummer at times, but I’m choosing the unconventional because this season is unconventional. I’m choosing my family and I’m choosing the opportunity to find and cling to moments of joy this season. More than anything else. We have to.



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