Friday, April 17, 2020

End of the Week Straight Talk

Okay, straight talk: this week is f*cking hard. I miss our village. I miss our routine. I miss hugs, being within 6 feet of people other than my own four people, and being able to go out. The only reason I miss it is because these days are exhausting. Teaching three kids, three different grade levels at the same time is mind bending. My brain actually hurts yet won't shut off.

I was doing great up until this week. We've been in quarantine and social distancing for over a month now. Actually social distancing too. Where we haven't seen friends or family unless it's been from 6+ feet away and in open air. For the record, I'm not so much doing it for us, but for those around us or those we happen to be in contact with. My husband still works outside of the home as an essential employee and is in contact with many people throughout his work day. So, while mine and the minis footprints are small, our probability of contracting it, or worse passing it to others unknowingly, is high. I digress, usually after a day or week as I have had, I seek out my coping methods: shopping (usually just for groceries, nothing exciting) and roaming the aisles of Target, a late night stop at Starbucks to write or read, drinks with friends. I can do exactly none of those right now.

This week was eight hours a day of nonstop learning, helping, and continually regrouping all three minis. Again, who were doing three different things at the same time. Our teachers, staff, schools, the district has all been amazing. What they are attempting to do and the support they have given has been more than I could ever dream of. Yet I feel like I'm failing. I'm failing the mini's teachers, who have worked hard on videos, calls, emails, lessons and I just can't. I know my strengths and this isn't it. I've had nine years of "teaching" or doing stimulating activities with a wide age range. My strength is finding the lessons and learning for a large group of children of various ages. I've got this down. Give me a group of 15 kids ranging from 1 - 12 and we'll learn states or countries, science, sports, games, art, reading. I can direct the older kids to help the younger kids, I can get a one year old to play a game with the older kids, yet I can't teach my own three kids three different things. The beginning of the week was a huge struggle and because I struggled, the minis did too. There's been more fights, tears, and goofing off this week than in the last four weeks put together!

It's frustrating. Adding in the little things like mild food rationing at the grocery stores (only 1 dozen eggs when we could definitely use 2 for the week, only 2 cans of black beans when I need 4, only 1 loaf of bread, etc.) makes things very difficult for a family for five with a daycare to run (albiet with a very small number right now). Limit your number of trips to the stores, but also limit the food you can can't be both for those of us with larger families. Not finding the supplies online I need for homeschooling or daycare and the stores being sold out too adds to that frustration. It sucks. I don't want to hear about how we can do things differently and I really don't want to hear suggestions. I just want to bitch about it, get it out so my brain will shut off. I just want to bitch about how the conveniences I'm used to in my life are no longer available.

I get it, I'm priviledged.

I shouldn't be bitching at all. We're lucky. My husband has a job, is considered an essential employee, we have savings and can financially afford for me to have a few slow months of daycare and not have it affect us. On top of that, all of my families have been amazing and surprised me with bonuses, meals, gift cards, weekly pay, etc. I'm lucky to be able to afford groceries and our life. I'm lucky to be able to have the choice to work with my children every day on their school work. Some parents aren't able to do even that. Some parents are away working overtime and their children are struggling. Some families can't afford to eat. I have no business bitching, but I am. Just for a minute. Because everyone is struggling with something right now.

And you know what? It's okay to struggle. It's okay to have bad days or feel like you're failing. When life is turned upside down; and life is more than upside down right now, it's in the freaking twilight zone, we should expect bad days and days when we think "wtf do I do??!!?" 

Now I sit and think it's finally Friday. What was once a set off the fireworks at the end of the business day, Friday's don't really mean as much these days. We'll still find the fun. We'll still keep extraordinarily busy. We'll still be happy. But it won't be what we're used to. I know I'm one of the few parents who have loved this time: having my children home, having precious time that I would't usually get with them, doing projects with them, even the homeschooling. It doesn't mean that I'm not having an extra extra glass of wine at night because that's a thing now. It does mean that I'm ready for normal, or even a new normal. I'm ready for new faces, places to go, and more people. I'm ready to stop watching daily press conferences and seeing 'breaking news' flast across the TV screen. I'm ready to not have the CDC and Iowa Department of Health websites up on my phone screen. 

As I sit and hash through my feelings with writing, texts from friends, and other parents, I fully realize I write this as a point to remember the hard times because when I actually look back on this time, I'll likely remember a lot of laughter, smiles, so many walks and hikes, the kids happily learning things they want to learn, me using my new phrase "just give me a minute" as I vigorously look up information about the Aztecs or re-learning longitude and latitude. All of this has been a period of learning for everyone: learning how to navigate life during a pandemic, learning new skills to keep themselves busy at home, learning 6th grade social studies all over again, learning the important relationships in life. The good far outweighs the bad, but it doesn't take away that this is simply a hard time for everyone.