Parenting During a Pandemic:
Don’t Let Perfection Be the Enemy of Good
I have never been happier to be an empty nester than in the last five months! I’m not one of those people who spend a lot of time grieving for their adult children’s childhoods. I loved being a mother, but I also firmly believe that there is a season for everything in life, and my motherhood season is well into autumn. My children are not only grown, but they have children of their own, planting me firmly into the grandmother season of life where I am blooming quite happily, thank you.
The main reason I’m extraordinarily happy to not be in the active-duty parenting stage is the pandemic, and all that it entails. As if parenting isn’t hard enough, COVID-19 brings an entire new barrage of problems and worries. There are more questions than there are answers, uncertainty is the only certainty, and there are judgments, decisions, changes, and worries bombarding parents from all angles. You can’t even call your mom and ask for advice because grandmothers don’t know the answers, we have never dealt with this before!
Summer was difficult for parents and kids. Most pools were closed, many vacations were canceled, and more time was spent at home than usual. Working parents scrambled to find childcare when camps and activities were limited. Even though Tulsa had a mild summer, there was a heaviness hanging in the air, spoiling the carefree summer vibe.
And now school has begun, kind of, sort of, maybe? After sleepless nights, endless conversations, questions with no answers, and decisions, families are attempting to adapt to the reality of school/ childcare. It seems just as you make a plan, a change is right around the corner. In an ever-evolving reality, attempting to make a plan and stick with it is like nailing Jello to a tree. It isn’t going to happen.
Homeschooling is challenging, especially if you have a child who has special needs. If you’re also trying to work from home, it can be “off the charts” stressful. During the Spring semester, my niece was teaching her third-grade class virtually from her home, while also supervising her own two kindergartners who were attempting to attend class virtually! I don’t understand how she even began to manage those two roles at the same time! Virtual learning can be a good solution and works well if you have older, self -motivated students. Going to school in person is a choice for some districts, but it comes with health concerns. Socialization, learning, and concerns about COVID-19 have to be weighed carefully. There is no one right solution for every child or every family.
The world hasn’t experienced a pandemic since 1918, so it’s uncharted territory for us. Be gentle with yourself and others. This is the time to be flexible and not be judgmental about other parents’ decisions or our own. Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re trying to do what’s best for their family. It’s also perfectly understandable if you change your mind a few times and change direction, although some districts won’t allow changes until the beginning of a new semester. Maybe you tried to homeschool solo but found it wasn’t working. Perhaps a learning pod with another family might be a better fit? Maybe it’s time to ask a grandparent or hire a tutor so you can work and pay the bills. Maybe your child doesn’t get all the lessons done during the week, and you have to institute Saturday school. It’s ok to lower the bar. Unusual circumstances call for unconventional solutions.
The point of this blog is to tell you, I see you mamas and daddies out there struggling to do what’s right for your families, and I applaud you. These are tough times, and I don’t envy any of you for all the complicated, heart-wrenching decisions you’re required to make every hour of every day. You’re going to get through to the other side. Hang tough, be kind to yourself, and stay safe. This grandmother is cheering you on from her empty nest!