The Initial News
As the mother of a high school senior preparing to graduate, the mother of a sixth grader with a detailed IEP (Individualized Educational Plan), and a full-time student myself, I was unprepared for the recent events surrounding Covid-19. When I first heard the news that Maryland would shut down, and public schools would be closed until the end of March, I was shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened in my lifetime, even after Sept. 11.
Different emotions filled my mind, each cresting and crashing down like the surf entering the shoreline. Except it felt more as if I was standing on a deserted beach, watching a tsunami looming towards me, and I was powerless to stop it.
Honestly, the first two weeks of the lockdown were rather easy. The children had no assignments, and it was business as usual for my own workload, which was now 100% at home and online. It felt rather nice not to be running to activity after activity, and even gave us the opportunity to relax a bit and breathe, which doesn’t happen very often. After the honeymoon period of lockdown, reality reared its ugly head in the form of a now lengthened lockdown. This came with a new demand, homeschooling.
To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool…Ugh, That is Indeed the Question
Upon the start of week three, my head started to ache considerably. There was the juggling act of concentrating on my schoolwork while helping my sixth grader with her enormous list of coronavirus questions, school assignments, and bouts of anxiety. I was also trying to navigate my high school senior’s endless emotional roller coaster of “what-if” questions that I had no answer to. All this was a little more than daunting.
I had the incredible urge to drive every one of their teachers’ homes and hug them, which of course isn’t allowed now. It must be said that teachers should be put on a pedestal, praised, and admired for what they do every day!
I really admire that they show up for work each day and don’t run out of their schools to their cars screaming! Those who know me are aware that homeschooling is not in my DNA. I adamantly applaud any parent who can stomach the art of homeschooling their children. After a week or so of pleading, begging, encouraging, and praising, we finally found our groove in this new forced adventure.
The Ups and Downs
Around week four, our schedules were running more smoothly, the bickering wasn’t as frequent, we were embracing this new normal, and life at home was becoming tranquil. Almost too tranquil. It began one morning with a simple eyeroll from my daughter, and then those two dreaded words were uttered. “I’m bored!”
Though I didn’t say anything right away, my initial thought was, “Seriously, you’re bored? I grew up in the 1980s. Boredom was part of life. We called it ‘outside.’” Then it occurred to me, my youngest thrives on social interaction.
However, since the lockdown, she hasn’t had any social time apart from our small family of four. None of her friends have cellphones. Most aren’t using social media, or any social platforms yet. Nevertheless, before I reacted, I asked her one question. “I know you can’t hang out with friends right now; however, what would make you feel like your time is being well spent?” My daughter’s reply was simple. She just wanted something to do that didn’t involve schoolwork or chores. I gave her some clay I had brought home from the studio, and she went to work!
Here we are at week 7 of the lockdown, with no update regarding public schools reopening after May 15; however I’m grateful. After many tough moments adjusting to being on lockdown, homeschooling, and all the emotions it entails, we are thriving as a family.
We have found time for projects, extra family time that normally would be taken over by activities, and we have shared many deep conversations about the future. All this in addition to realizing how much we can all learn from each other.
Sure, we aren’t yet able to venture out in society to our favorite restaurants, shops, or friends’ homes; moreover, we have learned that the most important thing at the end of each day is not what we can and can’t do. It’s the love and care we share as a family. We have learned to laugh at life again, regardless of money, circumstance, or situation. Watching my children laugh, learn, and live each day fully makes me truly grateful.