Spread Too Thin: Motherhood in a Pandemic


bread and butterIn The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo Baggins describes himself as feeling spread too thin – “Like butter scraped over too much bread.”

In 2020, I am the butter, and the bread is everything that I need to keep covered in life. Right now, there is not enough of me to spread everywhere. I’m not reaching all of the edges. There just isn’t enough of me to go around.

I’m a single mom of 3 kids ages 10-15, a graduate student, and I work full-time. This was stressful before the pandemic – but now, I have my 10 year old at home with me three days a week, during which I have to help him with his schooling.

I want to take a moment here to say that teachers are superheroes. I see how hard my son’s teacher works to meet everybody’s needs when they’re distance learning, and I can’t imagine how much she’s juggling right now. She probably feels like butter scraped over too much bread, too.

Today I was in my Ethics class via Zoom, and my son was on the tablet trying to do his math work. He was struggling with it, and with every wrong answer he got, the more frustrated he got. He wanted my help, but I also needed to be present in my class. I couldn’t do either things well when I was trying to do both at once.

So I reached out my hand. I held my son’s hand with my left, while taking notes with my right. I gave him a motherly touch, which wasn’t a miraculous healing touch, but it communicated what it needed to: I’m here. When I would hear a huff of frustration out of him, I’d gently rub his hand with mine. I can’t fix it, I can’t make it easier, but I can hold his hand through it.

We all seem to be doing this juggling act right now – and there’s no way to give 100% effort in every area of our lives. (Don’t even ask me what my laundry pile looks like right now). Right now I’m not worrying about efficiency or time management. I’m worrying about what can wait. 

Fellow spread-too-thin moms: I reach my hand out to you, as well. I can’t make everything easier. But I’m here with you.


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