I Speak for All Pandemic Moms When I Say: F**K 2020

I want to be clear: this year has been horrible for everybody and tragic for many people. As an anxious Jew, throughout my life I have taken my pain and trauma and made it into a joke—the only way I know to deal with pain and tragedy and loss is to find some humor in it. As a purely personal psychological coping mechanism, I recommend this. There is certainly nothing funny about what we have lived through. But there are aspects of the smaller things that we have lost and the various indignities we have all faced, and I think there is comedy in communicating how this has been a shared experience.

In the spirit of that, I will share what a good day in 2020 looks like for me.

5:30–6:22 a.m.: My one-year-old baby wakes me up. What a fun time this is! We’re in the 6:22 sweet spot right now—my husband and I just feel like we’re at a Club Med. To clarify, the fact that my baby sleeps until 6:22 is a brag, and I would like it to be printed in Glamour.

6:22-9 a.m.: This hour and a half is where I really get in the mom time and hopefully implant in him good memories of me being present. First I read him all the books he’ll tolerate before throwing his hands in the air and moaning at the ceiling (Raising a reader!!). Then he has breakfast that I prepare in front of him so that he’ll have memories of me cooking—it’s just oatmeal with hot water, but still it’s very exciting for him to be so nurtured and loved! And then after examining various toys and naming what they are with some degree of accuracy, he gets put in his crib for a nap and I abandon him for my workday!

9-9:30 a.m.: All throughout my work on Yearly Departed, the writers’ assistant would send an email saying, “Bess is unavail from 9-9:30” and it made it sound like I had a standing meeting maybe with other executives, but the real answer is that I was rocking and shushing a baby to sleep in his crib. That was always my first meeting of the day, on everybody’s Google calendar: “Bess is unavail.” Between 9-9:30 I read all of the writers’ submissions for the day while rocking my baby. I select jokes, and figure out a game plan for the day with the writers’ assistant, Caroline Anderson, who is as tolerant as she is talented, which is to say: VERY.

10:30 a.m.: I am lucky to be co-quarantined in a pod with my parents, who live about five minutes away. My dad or mom show up at around 10:30 when the baby wakes up and take him for the rest of my workday. All day he’s just on the other side of this door, doing his little Montessori blocks with my dad, who hadn’t raised a baby in 30 years.

11-1:30 p.m.: Writers’ Zoom, with the brilliant all-women writing team of Yearly Departed, Karen Chee, Akilah Green, Franchesca Ramsey and Jocelyn Richard. So we would really dive into each topic, and figure out what is the funniest angle and what makes us laugh. It’s incredibly productive, fun, supportive Zooms that felt like hanging out and processing the year.

1:30 p.m.: Put the baby down for his next nap with lots of kissing and proclamations of love and apologies. This is another “Bess unavail” calendar notification for various Amazon executives to work around. I am very important in that I am reading Goodnight Construction Site to a small, food-covered baby.

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