The clock reads 10:58am and I franticly rush to gather my phone and computer, along with some semblance of sanity and retreat into the farthest corner of my house for my 11am Zoom meeting. With three very enthusiastic and emotional boys, quiet is not a familiar sound in our home. I throw on a work-appropriate shirt to match my leggings and slippers, add some life-giving mascara to my tired eyes, and voila, I’m ready for work. The fact that I am un-showered and carry the sweet smell of the sweaty boys I’m parenting through a pandemic and sunscreen will (hopefully) go unnoticed through the blue light of the computer screen.
I open my computer, take a sip of already cold coffee, and a deep breath. As I type, I notice the paint-spattered on my hands and am reminded of the butterfly crafts my boys and I did earlier this morning. Juggling “mom life” and “work-life” has always been a challenge, but adding teacher, coach, and therapist to the mix? Doing all of this simultaneously . . . sigh.
I can’t be all these people and do all these things. This is just too many hats for one mom to wear.
While we teach addition and subtraction to our kindergarteners, we are also teaching them how to type, click, and drag with their fingers. And while they record themselves responding to the same online lesson about non-fiction books for the tenth time, we are teaching them to let go of their mistakes. We are bribing and begging for our littles ones to sit still and write their reflections . . . and all they see is a mom who doesn’t seem to understand that Summer Break started last month. We are balancing the work of a team on our own, and it’s just too many hats for us to wear.
My computer has twelve tabs open right now, and I’m pretty sure in my brain there are ninety-seven. For entertainment and enrichment, we have YouTube screens up with art tutorials and virtual field trips. Schoolwork is on multiple websites each containing assigned work for two students. On top of that, add my own work, of course. There are pending Amazon and grocery orders. Online workouts, that should have been completed a lifetime ago. I’m on information overload and falling so far behind.
Thoughts about how to complete that ever-growing to-do list run through my mind. Thoughts about what to add to the Instacart order set to deliver in four days due to high demand; What dinner will be tonight, and how I’m going to manage to cook that dinner in the twenty minutes I have between ending my Zoom day and the hangry witching hour of my children. Worries about how many times I touched my face after I picked up the mail; Anxiety about how long the social distancing will go on for. And thoughts on how to raise and educate kind and compassionate kids / generally parenting through a pandemic. You know, the usual.
This “new normal” that we are all finding ourselves in feels nothing like normal.
If you’ve survived the first few months after having a newborn, this feeling of self-isolation should feel quite familiar. There is a general lack of knowledge of dates and times and very little contact with the outside world. And just like that snapshot of time ends, so too will this period of social distancing.
So let’s all give ourselves some grace and recognize – we aren’t supposed to be good at all of this. We aren’t supposed to be great at parenting through a pandemic.
If we can’t laugh at the chaos of the day, we might not make it out alive. Try as we may, try as we might, we just can’t do all the things right. Most days will have far more screen time than deemed appropriate, just like most days will see heaps of unfinished work. So let’s roll with the times of teaching, zooming and parenting through this pandemic. Because we are really only made to wear one hat at a time.