The virus crisis dredges up a single mother’s old regrets and fears.

Andrea Luttrell writes about the ways the pandemic has exacerbated her worries as a single mother, which came into sharper focus recently as she tried to juggle helping her 9-year-old son connect virtually to school and coping with the demands of her bosses and colleagues.

She acknowledges that she had the privilege of working from home — at least while her son’s school remained online — as she desperately attempted to navigate their two schedules. But the experience, as she writes, summoned haunting thoughts about the direction of her life:

Lying in bed that night, I thought of my divorce, of my meager savings and wondered how long it would carry us if I got laid off. Even before the pandemic, I had been clinging to the middle class by my fingernails. I also worried that my son’s current unhappiness wasn’t solely attributable to the pandemic. Was it, really, my own damn fault?

I counted my regrets. I should have gone to law school or pursued hedge-fund management rather than get an MFA in fiction. Surely if I had more money, I could insulate my child from the pandemic. If I were still married, we could tag in and out, managing our own work and remote learning. Maybe if I were prettier or skinnier or smarter or braver or less outspoken, I might have remarried by now and had help. In short, if I had made better choices, I could keep us both safe and happy.

These what-ifs had haunted me for years. Before the pandemic, they were easier to ignore. Covid-19 had made all my fears and resentments into a topographical chart of regret. I could suddenly touch and see every mistake I’d ever made in vivid relief. Each night, staring at the ancient water stain on the ceiling, I tried not to fall into self-loathing and self-pity. “You’re being selfish,” I would think, disgusted, knowing that at least we were healthy and unharmed. But I couldn’t help it — the pandemic, the impossibility of balancing everything, of attending to everything, had exhausted me.

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