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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

Why this email from my son’s teacher was just what I needed

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The pandemic arrived in Ohio when its first cases were confirmed on March 9, 2020. Four days later, on March 13, is when our schools closed their doors at Governor Mike DeWine’s behest.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent closing of schools began a months-long struggle in my family’s day-to-day lives for stability and consistency.

Simply put – those first few months sucked.

I’ve been a stay-at-home parent for a few years now, but my husband worked and (thankfully) never stopped working, since he was deemed “essential.” My son and daughter were in second grade and kindergarten at the time, and my littlest was just 2 years old.

Having all three kids home around the clock was never the problem – they drive me crazy, but my kids are friggin’ cool and spending extra time with them was one of the few blessings of 2020. It was always the uncertainty of the world around us that kept my anxiety high.

I was constantly glued to my phone and TV, keeping up with the growing number of daily confirmed cases. Listening to special reports where the governor would announce new public restrictions, seemingly every day. Obsessively checking e-mails and awaiting school district guidance on whether my kids would get to finish school for the year…

Not to mention – this virus was new, and lack of knowledge is scary. For a while there, I was convinced we would soon be living a real-life version of Outbreak, praying for Dustin Hoffman to high-jack a helicopter and bring us all a cure.

It’s definitely safe to say, I let us all get in a rut for a little while there. Daily baths and pants-wearing didn’t seem quite as important as news watching and Uno playing. I was just a mom, constantly trying to keep her shit together in front of her kids.

Anyway…That was then and this is now. Thankfully, we have since dug ourselves out of the rut, vaccines are happening, and our school district did come out with a plan.

But – even though my original fears and worries have subsided, the craziness of our school schedules for the 2020-21 year has given me brand new angst for months!

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You see, our schools started out this year as all remote – we were following whatever the county’s current health reccomendations were. Then it was hybrid (per more reccomendations). Then it went back to all remote (per more). Then hybrid again (ugh!). And now…one full year since schools were first closed…we are finally gearing up for 5 days back, in-person instruction.

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So…Do I even need to explain? I mean, you guys get it, right? School has been all over the place, and while our teachers and administrators have been rock stars, it has been anything but consistent for my family. And, even though I tell myself it’s ridiculous, I’m constantly beating myself up over if I have my kids on the right track, academically and otherwise.

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Not that there was ever a perfect way to parent before all this BS – Now, it just feels as though I’m never sure if I’m doing things quite right.

Am I paying enough attention? Too much attention? How much help with their at-home assignments is too much help?

Well, yesterday, I received an e-mail that gave me somewhat of a grounding effect that I totally needed as a parent. It was from my son’s art teacher, after having him in class on a hybrid day. And while it was short and simple, it was AMAZING to read.

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Hallelujah! Hot damn! I’m not screwing up my kids after all!

OK, before you ask – YES! I ABSOLUTELY get support from my husband and the rest of my village. But, come on, you know as well as I do that support outside of your circle feels freaking fantastic! When you’re feeling so uncertain about so much, and then you send your kid “out there,” it’s just nice to know they’re doing fine.

Hey, Teach – Thanks for the pick-me-up! It means more than you know! And, trust me, we think you are GREAT too!

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