Pandemic Schooling: Thank you Teachers

This is not quite homeschooling, because homeschooling, while challenging, does have a million perks. I loved creating a mesh of weekly plans, shopping for curriculums, and adding my own touch of field trips for practical application of our studies. I loved the fluidity of it, the ability to change it in response to the needs of my children.

This ain’t it.

It’s also not really public schooling, because normally there’s friends and field trips, concerts and school dances, there’s sports! But this…is either online or mostly online.

It’s frustrating to everyone. Teachers. Parents. Students.

Our school has had two zoom hacks since it started. They’ve started an investigation, of course. We’re definitely not the only ones, either.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/wgntv.com/news/children-parents-spammed-with-porn-during-kindergarten-orientation-on-zoom/amp/

The online world can be a dangerous one and parents should be aware of the dangers and discuss them their children. This is an entirely different set up for kids and their parents. Especially those who need to work out of the home AND work remotely. This divided attention means more work for parents (and, statistically, mothers).

It also means more work for teachers. For teachers that are also parents, the extra work (paid and unseen) is unreal. Teachers have to adapt to a new style of teaching, have to be IT support, have to deal with frustrated students and parents, have to adapt curriculum, grade it all, organize it all, and still balance their own home lives, and, and, and.

I have to thank our country’s teachers, because they’re doing this while some of the public is angry they have it “easy” working remotely. They’re doing this while funding continues to decrease. They’re doing this being caught in political fire.

I don’t think any of us were prepared for a school year of this when we were told to take two weeks “off.” But I’m so grateful for all the dedicated teachers that are showing up for our children, even while being criticized.

No Kid Hungry: Why You Should Jump on this Chance to Help

Children are out future.

I think that’s the meaning of life: pushing for better so that our children have better. They are what continues our existence. They hold our memory. They carry on our culture, our beliefs, our traditions.

Everything that we do, that we create, that we advocate for, should have the thought of children in its fabric. After all, it very literally

That is why No Kid Hungry is pushing Congress to increase SNAP benefits by 15%. Even though it may not seem much to some, to those who need it, it’s a lifeline.

Covid-19 has impacted more than just the health of the nation. It has also worsened the financial situation of many families across the nation. That means that many more are now food-insecure.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity means that an individual or household has inadequate access to food due to limited money or resources. Unfortunately, children have no say in what household they are born in. Of course, there’s a bigger issue there, as poverty is not some strange choice people decide upon. But, regardless, children are born into a set of circumstances and that can be the decider on whether they go to bed hungry or not.

Like it or not, even with a developed country like the United States, too many children find themselves transient homeless or food-insecure. It’s not some obscure reality, either. 1 out of every 30 children is homeless. More than ELEVEN MILLION children live in food insecure households. And the current pandemic is ensuring that that number only grows.

Children should not be homeless or hungry in a country that boasts about freedom and opportunity. It is up to us, the adults, to ensure that this is not the reality of so many.

As a child that did grow up transient homeless, as a child that used to go to sleep so that she could skip over the hunger pangs of missed meals, this could not hit closer to home.

My children don’t deserve any more or less food than any other children in the United States. My children don’t go to bed hungry. Yes, I worked hard to break free of the cycle of poverty, and so I know intimately how hard it is to do. I know that in many ways, the system is designed to keep one down. I know that the system needs a lot of reform.

But…

In the meantime…

Our children shouldn’t starve.

No kids should go hungry. Make your voice heard. Write your representatives. It’s worth the fight. For our children. For your children. For theirs.

Zoom Meetings, Not Enough Coffee, and Sexism

It’s about twenty minutes to 8 o’clock. I’ve slept about 6 hours last night, not necessarily in a row, and I’m already craving a second cup of strong coffee. I’m not sure it’ll make a dent in the fatigue I’m carrying, but it’s worth a shot.

Right now I’m working remotely. Right now my children are learning remotely. Help.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

The toddlers have been shuttled off to daycare by their father. (Breakfast, diapers, potty, teeth, clothes, where are her shoes??, wait is this yours, don’t forget the check for our sitter, bye, kiss, kiss, hug, bye.) My oldest two, the teen and almost teen have been forced into the shower (just barely) and are now scrunched up behind their personal school tablets, working some Google docs (I hope) until their first Zoom meeting of the morning. My own work day starts at 9 am and I’m pretty sure my own Zoom meetings cross over school Zoom meetings. Which means I’ll have to disable video and microphone periodically to run out and fix technical glitches on the kids’ computers. I’m sure my job is thrilled. But they probably don’t mind too much as I make up for lost work by starting my day earlier than ever and ending later than ever.

Article after article after article explains how difficult this juggling is and how it impacts the careers of working moms. The literature seems to go on forever about it. Ultimately, it boils down to the sexism that exists within both parenting, relationships, and the workforce.

Complain about having to juggle everything and you’re told that it is what it is. You chose to have children and now you have to deal with having children. It’s a little infuriating.

Also, even if the response of, “Well, you wanted to have children…now you have to parent…” wasn’t soaked in sexism and judgement, I don’t know anyone who imagined this scenario. Raise of hands to show who dreamed of orchestrating a bastardized version of “homeschool” via public school during a mismanaged pandemic, while also handling everything else. Yeah, me neither.

“You’re not the only one struggling.”

“Some people are worse off.”

Also just as insulting a response. Clearly we’re all struggling. Obviously everyone’s situation is different. But other people’s struggles do not diminish the very real physical, mental, and emotional impact the current state of affairs has on parents, and especially mothers. There is no Personal Problems Olympics where people compete and the winner gets to take home the prize of Guilt-free Venting.

Throughout my years as a mother who has mostly worked out of the home, I’ve been told (especially by other mothers), “I don’t know how you do it! You make it seem so easy! You’re always so calm and collected.”

It kind of feels like being complimented on how strong of a swimmer I am while barely treading water or borderline drowning.

The truth is, and I try to explain this every time, that I’m as overwhelmed as any other mother. I don’t do anything more or less than other people in my same situation. And I also don’t know where the requirement of being the perfect picture of calm and control came from. Why is that part of the Mom’s Code of Conduct? Can leadership get together and strike through that part?

Maybe we should also stop judging ourselves so harshly. Most of the time when we see a mom who seems to have it all together, we covet her grace and multi-tasking abilities. At least, that’s what it seems like to me when people compliment my mothering. And, frankly, that’s what it is like when I see women I wish I could model myself after.

And after all that, when I pay them the same compliments, they tend to respond the way I do sometimes. “Girl, I am a mess. But thank you. I’m trying.”

And that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? We’re all trying. We all need help. And there’s some weird unspoken rule that we’re supposed to look like we got it.

Mothering is labeled “team lift” but someone taped over it.

Before and After

Once upon a time and long, long ago, I was alone.

That is, I was not a mother. A daughter, a sister, yes.

Motherhood is the most crushing and awesome events of life. I mean that very literally. Well, almost. No, I haven’t been literally crushed under the weight of responsibility of raising little people. But it has felt so heavy that at times I cannot breathe.

I do find it awesome. I know we’ve all seen it, that little cherub face, looking out at a display of fireworks, a coveted gift, or even just bubbles, with simple awe, completely enraptured by the moment.

Before I was a mother, I yearned to be a mother. I’m not sure what the driver is behind that emotion or desire. Sometimes I blame the environment in which I grew up: full of children, big families, and tradition. It made sense to continue this. Sometimes I blame the other facets of the environment in which I grew up: latchkey child, forced to grow up too quickly, wanting someone to love and love her back.

Regardless of the reason, I became a mother, sooner than I am advising my own children.

Married, yes, but also still a teenager. My 30-something-year-old heart drops into my stomach when I think of one of my sons coming home to tell me that they are about to become a father only a few years from now. Universe help me if that ever happens.

Motherhood has been everything I thought it would be, nothing that I could have anticipated, and so much more than I ever imagined. I know it sounds romantic, but I also mean that in the negative.

I could drown in the chorus of “Mom” that is sung every day.

I could cry when I swipe through my Instagram feed, images of my beautiful four rolling through.

I want to run away to a remote island when little tiny hands have touched me several hundred times too many.

What is silence? Don’t we all teeter between the idea of a little extra sleep and a few hours of “me” time (whatever the hell that means).

And so, I feel fulfilled and stressed and anxious and loved and like enough but not enough. They say it takes a village, but I cannot find my village. It’s so segmented and full of advice columns, stuffy opinions, and questions.

And so, this site was born.