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Challenge: Back to School 2020

Booze. Hurricane Kit. Anxiety.

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Why sending my kids back to school amid a global pandemic during hurricane season comes with all three.

About a month ago in a group text, my friends and I pondered whether we should start buying school supplies or just more booze. Days away from starting the new school year, my answer remains the same – both!

The kids are going back to school! Whether it be online or on campus – they are going back to school. Praise Jesus. Hallelujah. Can I get an AMEN?!

But here I sit, on my 41st birthday, having just narrowly escaped a CAT4 hurricane, without school supplies, new clothes, shoes, or backpacks. But I have booze. A helluva hurricane kit. And anxiety.

Parents have spent the last five-ish months with our children, two of those months locked up inside, which partially explains the booze. I understand why all of this is necessary, and don’t get me wrong, I love my girls so much. But it is not normal to spend this much time with your children. Mine say mom 752 times a day. My youngest has resorted to calling me Jamie because I’ve stopped responding to mom. But then they do this thing where they know they are bothering me and come in strong with a Mama or a Mommy, and I give up. “Yes, sweetheart?”

Let me quickly tee up my parenting style. I’m a pretty chill mom. Pick my battles. Talk to me about anything. Not much of a spanker. Roll with the punches. Until I don’t. I have lost my shit more times than I can count during this extended Spring Break. On video conference calls, I mute my feed, put my hand over my mouth, and start yelling at my kids and my dogs without moving. It’s an art. Truly. Until someone says – “Jamie, you’re on mute.” I KNOW! Now all my colleagues are going to watch for my hand over mouth move. (ed. This is absolutely true.)

It took my girls roughly 45ish days post-Spring Break to realize I actually work for a living. They pop into my office all day long. Sometimes they make me laugh. Sometimes they get a different reaction. And if I have to hear one more thing about That YouTube Family – I’m going to pull my hair out. Anyone else know what I’m talking about? This family has made millions acting out scripted skits to the tune of 3.5 million subscribers, while I mute myself on video calls all day long. I’m in the wrong business.

I’m going to miss them. Their silliness, the distractions they provide me throughout the day, and just hanging out with out with them. I’m really going to miss them when they go back to school. The truth is that I’m anxious about school. I don’t know what’s right or wrong here. Maybe there is no right or wrong here. Should our kids be going to back to school in person? Is online viable? But the kids need school. They need their friends, their teachers, routine, and structure. Our district gave us two simple options. All in, or all online. No takebacks. I chose all in. But I think what gives me anxiety most is I’m making these decisions on my own. My husband died last year. What would he have chosen? I think I know, but I don’t know. I also worry that all of these “distractions” we’ve had since his deathiversary in March have impeded our grieving process. We’ve been grieving for sure, but perhaps more for the circumstances we are all facing and maybe less on our personal loss. I hope getting back to something normal-ish will make us feel our real feelings again.

I’ve seen the toll the pandemic and isolation have taken on my kids. Their circumstance are a little different than others, but I’m sure there are lots of kids out there who have shut down, shown signs of depression, act out because they just want things back to the way they were. We all do. Hopefully, school will provide some solace.

Whether they actually go in person or find themselves back at their home desks all day, I hope and pray they will be okay. They will be okay. And oh, how I can’t wait to roll by them on a scooter - in a mask AND wig - while they are in “meetings.”

Off to the mall now. And Specs.

Originally posted on The Experiment.

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