Parenting During a Pandemic
Remember back when I was saying I'd found my Nirvana doing part-time work? I'm half laughing, half crying at the memory ...
It was soon after that post that a Friday the 13th in March came along and threw the biggest monkey wrench we've ever seen into our lives -- halting our happy little routines for our kids' schooling, how we worked, and cancelling every plan we had scribbled onto our calendars.
I scroll through my phone's pictures and am still in shock at how quickly things changed. Just the Wednesday night before everything turned upside down, I had visited my daughter's school for a showcase event in which I got a chance to tour her classroom. The room was jam packed with her classmates as well as other parents, siblings, and a few grandparents. I got a chance to snap a few pictures of of my kiddo being hugged by her two kindergarten teachers and walk around, touching just about every surface there was without any thoughts regarding what germs might be hanging out there. And then we stood (less than six inches!) away from one another, waiting in a long line to get shave ice from a food truck.
Living our normal life and then ... BAM!
Deserted streets and rules for how to walk around the lake.
What transpired over the next few weeks seems like a bad dream. Though I was just a temp, my employer was amazing and granted permission for me to continue on in my role from my home. And my boss and co-workers were extremely understanding that my daughter's new distance learning situation took priority. Like what so many moms out there have experienced, it made for some interesting working hours and a few days where my child had to occupy herself for a few hours at a time while Mommy met a specific deadline or had several virtual meetings to attend. (Let's just say any screen time limits I'd been hoping to put in place before COVID-19 became laughable while the mom guilt skyrocketed.)
We hit a wall HARD at Week 5 ... and apparently, we weren't the only family feeling this. With my husband out of state for essential work (construction), I was left to do it all on my own and feeling like I was drowning every day. The beautiful, very colorful and organized schedule I'd laminated and proudly posted on Facebook was used for MAYBE half a day at best. And our new contactless world soon meant that we were getting less active while eating more poorly (sorry, sushi and Thai spots -- love ya, but those orders are still showing on my lower half).
It was like Groundhog Day on spin cycle, with days blurring together. And Summer wasn't much better.
Our family had the added excitement of a move to contend with, but all other events we normally would've been doing had been scratched off the calendar (I actually got so bummed out seeing it, I took the whole thing off the wall and tossed it in the recycling bin). Most upsetting was not being able to travel back East for our annual summer visit with family and friends.
Let me take a step back and say that moving during a pandemic just feels weird!
She was more excited at the prospect of seeing Daddy more often and a few stays in hotels along our drive north than actually moving away from everyone.
Since we lived in a 3rd floor apartment, we couldn't even have friends do a drive-by or anything to officially say our farewells. On one hand, it felt like we were sneaking away without any goodbyes. On the other hand, I felt like it may have been the "perfect" time to move -- already being in isolation for so long made the transition easier and our new norm of Zoom meetings as play dates and parties could still continue from a few states away.
And the pseudo Happy Hour that we went to with a handful of my co-workers during one of our final days nearly gave me a panic attack -- being in any sort of social situation out in public during those early days (after stay-at-home orders had been relaxed), taking off masks to have a beer and eat some pizza felt like the equivalent of having unsafe sex with someone who may or may not give you something really bad (or at least, that's where my brain was back then -- I've gotten a little less dramatic over the last few months, though still very cautious and risk averse).
I know it's been a minute since our last crafty post. Upon arriving in Oregon, however, I got a surge of motivation/inspiration and whipped up my first ever handmade curtains for our bathrooms, improving a bit more with each set (the downstairs set almost didn't fit on the curtain rod because I didn't allow enough space in the sleeve at the top; I got the overall measurements right, but goofed on the actual sewing part of our master bath curtains, which is why they're so short; and I got cocky with the 3rd set -- the rainbow ones -- if you look closely at the stitching, the double lines aren't exactly perfectly straight/parallel).
More to come in that department in the next few days. I promise.
But, hey! We made it through summer and are doing the remote thing for school once again. This time, it's clear what a difference it makes when instructors have sufficient time to prepare (I always considered how stressful and frantic it must've been for them last Spring when they were launched head-first into the deep end of this distance learning pool with less than a weekend to prep).
My daughter's school day is a lot longer than it was last year in kindergarten -- she's expected to sign on for class several times throughout the day, has more work to do and submit when on her own, and will eventually be responsible for connecting with her peers for group work. But it's feeling a lot more routine now. I may "just have one" (a loaded statement for any loss mom, I know), but when I look at friends who have two or three kids with very different schedules stretching the bandwidth of their home modems, I feel fortunate for that.
Not that I ever did, but I feel like I don't "mom so hard" these days. Things for both me and my kiddo are emotionally rocky. I have to remind myself daily that she had her teachers, routine, friends, local play places, and family stripped away from her in an instant. She is now the new kid once again, has only just recently been able to use a playground (with lots of rules and restrictions put in place by the city), and hasn't had many opportunities to interact with other children. Yet she and I have connected on a whole other level since this all began -- and it's really good!
I think of moms I know who have either had their first baby or have brought a new little one into the world to add to their families during all of this. (Bless you if you are one of those moms! I can't even imagine giving birth during all of this.) Those wee things have only ever known the faces of their parents and siblings for so many months, and maybe saw a grandparent from across the driveway or separated by a glass front door. I often wonder what the stranger danger and attachment issues may be like when those precious littles go to daycare or preschool for the first time "when this is all over" (as my daughter likes to say), but also know that we've had epidemics in the past and Anita Sampson is proof that those families did just fine.
Things are easing up as each town or city enters a new phase/stage, and we've adapted to life with face coverings and better hygiene measures. With all that 2020 is serving up (it's a lot, y'all!), families are making really tough choices about their kids returning to school, grappling with work-from-home stress or the loss of a job, and trying to keep their heads above water through it all.
We won't ever discuss here the hot button issues stirring things up elsewhere (we want this to be a safe place where you can turn to for a distraction from all of that). But please know that we see you. We know this is an insane year to be living through. We recognize the struggle and applaud you for all that you're able to do -- even if it's just getting out of bed each morning. Hang in there! It may seem a bit of a worn-out statement these days, but it's true that we are all in this together (even if we can't physically be with our tribes).