This Is Your Brain on Two Years of Pandemic Parenthood

Any questions?

Keema Waterfield


Image: Famous fried eggs from the 1980s “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” ad campaign

Sleep: Runny, but you’re out of time and you have three seconds to wolf them down and log your kid into online kindergarten or fight them to pull their mask up at the bus stop and no one likes it, but this is the way it is. Eat your damn runny eggs.

Social life: Eggshell omelet with way too much swiss cheese. You don’t like swiss cheese? Tough eggs. You can just stay home until swiss cheese is eradicated.

Kids: Fried. Salt, no pepper. One eats it with a smile, and the other takes a single bite and spews into your shirt. Whatever. You haven’t changed your clothes in a week anyway.

Zoom birthday parties: Egg drop soup poured through a sieve. All broth, no substance. Everyone is still ravenous.

Productivity: Hardboiled and sitting in the refrigerator for you-don’t-remember-how-long and only when you peel them do you realize they’re just salmonella pellets now. Tempting, really. At least you could stay in bed for a day or two.

Online school/ masked in-person school/ unmasked in-person school: Slimy frittata with too many vegetables. A gut-punch with questionable health benefits.

Housework: Burned. Just throw everything away and go to bed hungry.

COVID vaccine: Surprise soft boil. Your coworkers say it didn’t cook long enough and laugh when your thumb breaks through as you try to peel it, spattering yolk on your computer screen and scaring your cat. At least you’re not Zooming in from the hospital like your boss.

Downtime: Over easy with bacon, served as dinner. A treat you’re only allowed for 30 minutes once a week after the kids are asleep and you’ve forced yourself to work through the brain fog for two hours first.

Variants: Somebody egged the house again. I know you just put the pressure washer away last night, but can you drag it back out before your booster shot this afternoon?

Wicked cheap airfare: Sudden egg allergy. You can’t risk a hospital stay with unvaccinated toddlers depending on you to carry them into adulthood, despite your uncertainty about whether the planet can hang on that long.

Teletherapy: A Pinterest-worthy basket of speckled free-range eggs that the Pandemic Kitten has just swiped onto the floor out of curiosity. But only half are broken, and honestly, that’s enough to bake a cake, if you can face the prospect of your children and kitchen and every single dish you own being dipped in flour this morning.

Unvaccinated toddlers: There is a tiny bird in this egg. You crack it open and spend entire minutes sobbing at the stove while your kids cheep, cheep, cheep at the table. Can we have a sleepover yet? My Zoom link for kindergarten math is broken. When’s breakfast?

Sex: Are you kidding me? There’s egg barf in my bra right now. Besides, we’re all out of eggs.

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Keema Waterfield

Author of INSIDE PASSAGE, a nomadic childhood memoir set along the wild coast of Southeast Alaska. Find out more at