I hit my proverbial wall last week. Not surprisingly, my downfall came following an epic quarantine birthday celebration for my now 9-year-old, complete with a surprise street party, her dream menu and a new bike. Why do highs always have to be followed by lows?
It was probably the easiest kid’s birthday party that I have ever orchestrated, yet I was exhausted by the end of the day. When I finally plopped down on the couch to relax after cleaning up (because even when you don’t have a bunch of kids over for a party, birthdays are still messy), I realized that I still had to put together my kids’ weekly schedule. The following day was Monday, the start of homeschool week 7.
After logging into the elementary school’s communication portal to learn what was on deck for the week – new schedule, enrichment passwords, 8am PE?!, and virtual spirit days – I checked the preschool’s Shutterfly site, and was surprised to learn that my 3-year-old’s schedule would be changing significantly.
The teachers, like parents, are learning as they go, and are now implementing more opportunities for 1-on-1 Zoom meetings as well as introducing small groups. A couple of the teachers are also adding in afternoon storytimes and yoga instruction. This is all positive as the school is trying to meet the needs of the kids and their families, but as you might know from my previous writing, being adaptable is not my fortay. That said, in putting together Juno’s new schedule for the week, I decided to delete the things that she had not been enjoying or “attending” at all.
And after deleting Juno items, I started deleting Zara and Wynton items too. Heck, I love that the elementary school’s enrichment teachers are facilitating art and science multiple times throughout the week, but we just weren’t getting there, and even seeing them on our daily schedule was stressing me out. Delete. Delete. Delete.
Yet, despite the paring down of our quarantine activities, my kindergartener is still not grooving in the new system. I never know if he will attend a class meeting with his teacher. I never know if he will embrace storytime but reject math or spend a peaceful hour reading independently or break down because he didn’t write on the line. I know that we don’t need to hit on every subject his teacher presents, yet knowing what to even attempt on a daily basis has frayed my nerves.
Being the emotional caretaker of these three little beings is a huge responsibility, and certainly a draining one – this is not news. In the past, I had developed ways to replenish myself – my mood, patience, nerves. I don’t think I am doing that enough right now, or even that I know what it would look like. Because no one really has breaks these days. A run around the neighborhood or a phone call with a friend are nourishing, yet they don’t wipe the slate clean, so that the parenting, teaching and working can continue.
One week after hitting my proverbial wall, I feel like I have a concussion. My brain is fuzzy, my body is starting to protest with pain running along my stress-storing neck, the apathy is settling in. If I knew that this was the final lap, then I might find my stamina reserves and keep going. We all know it’s not. While I am hopeful that June will bring a measured and appropriate easing of restrictions, I know that “summer” vacation will look a lot like these past two months, just without the structure of homeschool.
That said, I certainly don’t want to return to “normal.” I believe that we – as a family, community, country, and world – can create something better after this crisis. I want to reconsider and redesign and rebuild. I just also want to take the kids to the playground, the zoo and the public pool.