My day unofficially starts at 5:30 when, half-asleep, I hobble down the stairs carrying one dog in one hand, while the other is nipping at my bare feet to take them outside. I then go upstairs and try to get some sleep for another hour or so until my youngest child rises at 7.
“Do we have school today?” she asks, leaping to get dressed.
“Yep,” I say. “But let me get some coffee first.”
I make the coffee, log into my work email, log into my personal email to see if the kids have mandatory Zoom meetings, and then…BEGIN.
Over the course of the next five hours, I have an anxious stomach, combined with a feeling of harried frenzy and drowning.
“How do you spell Memorial Day?” my daughter inquires. I’m in the middle of typing out a case statement for my job.
“Huh?” I say, still focused and typing on my laptop.
“How do you spell–”
“I don’t know, honey,” I snap. “Ask Siri.”
Then the guilt seeps in.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “Can you just hold on for a few minutes while I finish this?”
She agrees and stares at me while I finish typing. But I’m nowhere near done with work. I have to pause to help her with her assignments, as she can’t do them herself at age 7, but I’m half-present. One half of my brain is concerned that I have to finish work for my job, and the other half is trying to be a good mother and teacher with patience.
This conversation repeats itself about five more times until 1:00 p.m.
In the interim, my son is on my other laptop (since I was never given that promised Chromebook we were supposed to get) wailing about how “stupid” this all is and yelling, “It’s too much! I need help.” I go to him to help him understand a passage, which, truthfully, I have to reread about two times myself, because I don’t even understand it.
My body is now a raw nerve, an axon without myelin sheath. I am the definition of stress.
By 1:30, I realize no one has really eaten much, including myself. Well, there was the Oreo ice cream she fed herself, and some cereal, but he denied any food until now. So now I have to make meals. Sh*t, I haven’t gone to the grocery store other than to get a few items here and there, and I think we have, like, nothing.
It’s now 2 p.m., and I continue to do work for my job, all the while wondering how I can entertain the children. They can’t be on their devices all afternoon, because that would be bad parenting. And, they can’t really play with any friends in the neighborhood, because of the pandemic.
So, I am stuck.
I let them play on their ipads for a bit and then tell them they have to play outside in the back, or that I will pay my son to entertain my daughter until I finish work.
This is how every day goes until 5. I just try to get through it, and then it happens again the next day.
I write this today, because conversations are swirling back and forth on text between me and some mothers as to the plans for school next year. There are ideas of: (1) going back half the week, an “A” group and a “B” group, and, (2) continuing to homeschool.
How about (3)–something else, because neither one of those works for me, or for any full-time, single parent.
I realize this is unprecedented, and no one knows what to do at this point in time, and the school administration is trying to factor in everyone’s needs and wants. I just hope mothers and fathers in my situation are considered. It is not possible to continue in this way. Something has to give, and right now, it’s just me.