Good Riddance, 2020: The Motherhood Edition - Mutha Magazine


Published on December 30th, 2020 | by Lisa Lim


Good Riddance, 2020: The Motherhood Edition

I used to dream of trading in cubicle life for WFH. Now, I was living the dream, but it felt like a nightmare. Because who wants to WFH on top of homeschooling, cooking, washing dishes, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming, doing loads of laundry, while listening to your son caterwaul, “I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry . . . ” for the hundredth time. Not this Momma.

Like many working Moms, I struggled. I was lucky that my partner was a stay-at-home Dad and handled more of the remote learning. Thank God. But during my five-year-old’s free time, he would run into my office (his bedroom) and race around me with a bow and arrow screaming “Poopy head” during my live meetings. He was so much a part of my everyday workday, he was belovedly known as the unpaid “intern.”

It felt like COVID had sucker punched us. And dropped us into this surreal world where days bled into nights. Nights bled into days. And life began to blend dangerously together. Much like Atlantic City, but without the sweet hypnotic sounds of slot machines and free drink coupons. If you ask Miles what day it is, he’s answer, “July.” It was that kind of year.

Suddenly all boundaries were erased. Workloads quadrupled. Calendars looked like a crazy Tetris game with people scheduling meetings on top of meetings. Commutes that afforded you the luxury to unwind and daydream were gone. Colleagues to shoot the shit with and talk about life in general: nowhere to be found. We were on call 24/7. Because where were we going?

In the middle of my meetings, Miles would sing at the top of his lungs, “My poop is on fire.” It was his creative rendition of Alicia Key’s song, “Girl on Fire.” Then he’d undoubtedly scream out, “Mommy can you wipe my butt?”

Let’s just say the mute button became my best friend. The video off button a close second.

To keep Miles from Zoom bombing my meetings, I plastered the bedroom door with “Keep out” signs, and barricaded it with a large armchair. In retaliation, he took down my signs and replaced them with his own saying “Go in.”

Every day I promised myself I was going to be the Zen Master Mom. But my child mastered the homework resistance pose, unraveling my chi. It took two hours to get two sentences down for a writing assignment called, “How to make blueberry pancakes?” We finally changed the assignment to “How to drive Mommy crazy.” At least, that motivated him to finish it.

It was strange teaching Miles to be fearful of human touch. It seemed counterintuitive. Because we play through touch. We show love through touch.

These days, we’d go to the empty parks and the only life forms wanting to connect were hungry pigeons.

Our bubble was pretty small. Mostly it was the three of us, with some special family guests here and there. So I had what we called “bubble envy.” Especially watching larger bubbles of human connections forming and blooming on Facebook.

Like most kids, his only social interaction was through Zoom class time. I was so grateful he had the best teachers—they were engaged and running homerooms like morning talk shows.

These days, it was easy to feel defeated. Like you were running on empty all the time. Like you were failing. At home. At work. At love. As a partner. As a mother. As a friend. As a colleague. Sometimes I just had to take a breath. And remember I’m doing the best I can. I said this phrase so often to Miles, we made a song about it. It went a little something like this, “I’m doing the best I can. Cooking ramen and setting off fire alarms. Doing the best I can. Teaching Miles math and having breakdowns. I’m doing the best I can. Trying to stay awake while watching the Mandalorian.” It made us laugh. 

Sometimes we got out our anger and sadness at the world by screaming into the forest. It was cathartic. Afterwards, we would sing “Lost in the Woods” from Frozen. One day, we actually got lost in the woods while singing “Lost in the woods.” That was poetic. 

And sometimes we just disappeared into our screens. His screen time was my me time. And that’s ok.

As we count down the long and winding last days of 2020 with bated breath. I have only this to say.

2020, you’re the worst. You shoved about a decade worth of regretful history into one year. You were unrelenting in your onslaught of drama and tragedies. Good riddance. And as my son likes to say, “You were a total poopy head.”

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About the Author

Lisa Lim is a comic storyteller born and raised in Queens, New York. Her work has been featured in Guernica, PANK, The Rumpus, PEN America, and Mutha Magazine. Her short illustrated story, “The Hunger” was featured in an anthology edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers. Find more of her storytelling here.

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