When the Minnesota Governor announced that schools would close the first thought I had was “Oh, crap. Teaching is not a gift of mine. Also how am I going to manage 3 small humans at home all day, every day?! When am I going to take my daily naps?!” And then I put my big girl pants on and got to work. I devised the best (my opinion) daily schedule. I researched and planned and organized my house. Then I realized that all the planning in the world couldn’t prepare me for how our weeks at home would go.
Week T-1: School closes on Wednesday. Tears. From all.
Week 1: More tears from mom. Dad tries to keep the team together. Daily schedule developed. School work organized. Week 1 packets completed. So many emails to teachers.
Week 2: Apparently Week 1 work was practice work. No need to turn in (dang it, we had done so well with getting it done!). The real fun starts. Daily schedule goes out the window. Learned the littlest loves to cut things. Paper, hair, dolls… just likes to cut. Did I mention she likes to cut her own hair? At 2am. Her long, beautiful hair. Oh, and hair salons are closed because of COVID. She’s currently sporting a half mullet on one side. It’s pretty fantastic.
Week 3: Shared a Facebook post that said “I’m getting really tired of taking care of my mother’s grandkids” after I found my middle throwing legos and pillows out his window and my littlest hanging half out the same window. My 92-year-old grandmother found this to be hilarious. Glad I could share some joy from our chaotic home.
Week 4: Schedule?! What schedule?! The littlest broke her dang foot and has to wear a cast for 3 weeks. Found out school is closed longer. More tears from mom and the oldest. Shared a Facebook post that states “When do we usually find out who the kids will have for teachers next year? I hope it’s not me again….” Decided that teachers are angels sent from Heaven. Oh, and that school should be a year-round thing.
Week 5: How has it been this long?! Emailed all specialists for our middle child (special ed, OT, speech, Kindergarten teacher, social worker) because this mom can’t keep our weekly video chats with each specialist straight. Dad had to run school while Mom was working. His assessment? “This is really, really hard”. Mom feels validated. Youngest’s foot is still broken. SO MUCH TV TIME. Quite a bit of wine (for mom, that is).
Week 6: Dad starts his furlough. Realized that 2 parents with 2 kids that must get school done is so much easier! Realized the love of cutting the littlest has is a benefit. Set her at the table to cut paper while the boys did schoolwork. Realized that this maybe isn’t so bad. Littlest got her cast off. Wore her mask in the clinic like a champ. Put daily schedule back into place.
What Will They Remember?
I have spent many phone calls with my mom talking about the frustrations and fears and inadequacies I have been feeling. She reminded me of when I was six years old. We lived in North Carolina and were in the path of Hurricane Hugo. She asked me what I remembered from that time in our lives. I responded with “How Abbie and I wanted to see what would happen if you put a Kleenex in a candle (it lights on fire and your parents panic a bit) and that you wouldn’t let us walk down the street to watch Full House in Hawaii with the neighbors who had a generator (because we were in the MIDDLE OF A HURRICANE).”
I don’t remember the stocking up on supplies, or that we didn’t have power for over a week. I don’t remember my parents feeling nervous or anxious or uncertain. I remember playing board games and reading books by candlelight.
They’ll Remember the Family Time at Home
During all these conversations my mother, in all her infinite wisdom, she reminds me that my children won’t remember all the crazy, hectic, scary, and unsure moments in our lives right now. They will remember the bike rides, the “environmental education” of planting flowers, the weekly zoom cooking classes with their cousins and Mimi. The staying up late and never sleeping in (does anyone else have a 6:00 am riser even if they stay up late?). All the movie parties with our family. They will remember the trips to Menards where they can’t get out of the car, but that they can stand in the sunroof and have a dance party.
Right now, life is uncertain. Take this time to do what is best for your family. Realize that you may change your approach 243 times over the coming weeks. Allow yourself some grace. And realize we are raising a generation of resilient and flexible world changers. As my 92-year-old grandmother and my 60-something mother like to remind me: “This too shall pass.” Now just hang on for the ride. #alonetogether