Be Kind in These Uncharted Waters


Be Kind in These Uncharted Waters

As we wander as weary travelers into this next phase of our Coronavirus lives as parents, I can’t help but feel upended. On some days, I am a fly by the seat of my pants mom. I love adventures, veering off course on a road trip to try a new restaurant or having a fun unplanned night of movies and popcorn with the kids. I am also a working mom, and whether I like it or not, at other times, a plan is critical for my sanity.

Our school and after school situation is one of those categories where planning is necessary for me to survive. Like many parents, I waited with bated breath to hear what my kids’ school was planning to do for the return to school.

I read the articles with opinions swinging in every direction. Ultimately, our school has a plan to return full-time and we are going to be there with bells on. I am going to explain a few reasons why I was ecstatic about even having this opportunity. One, my kids thrive being surrounded by other kid — with their friends and even with the experiences of being around their not so close friends — they learn from their interactions with others. They gain the life experiences of navigating difficult social situations, people disagreeing with them, hurting feelings and getting feelings hurt.

My kids will tell you that they loved the time we were shut down. Weirdly, we had a magical few months of simple time together. They got along with each other pretty well. We did a lot outside and didn’t go too crazy with the screen time. I got the most uninterrupted time with them since they were born. Regardless, they need to be around kids their age. Even more than that, they need their teachers.

My kids have been so fortunate to have had the most incredible teachers.

Teachers that inspire them and love them and help them grow. When we talk about essential workers, teachers need to be on this list. They are essential. So very, incredibly essential. We are in a fortunate situation that no matter what happens, we will make something work for our kids. There are many, many kids that do not have that luxury, and I hope that in weighing out all options, we realize as a country that for many people, this is not a choice. It isn’t something that some people are going to read blog posts and talk to mom friends and pick the best option for themselves. For many people, there is no option. So as you read my post, I acknowledge that I have the luxury of this having even being something that was a choice.

Another reason I am sending my kids back to school full-time is that I believe that being in a classroom with the same people every day is as safe as the alternative of being home with a nanny or learning with groups of kids, or whatever possible scenario we could come up with to survive them not being in school. There are no perfect options. I cannot quit working and be home with my kids at the drop of a hat. I own a business, have employees and patients that are counting on me, and it just isn’t an option. With that in mind, if my husband and I are back out in the world, I feel like school with the same group of kids taking precautions is better than the alternative.

The options are either stay home and not expose yourself to anyone, or go out and be as responsible as possible, but live your life. If I had an at-risk child or was living with someone who was high risk, I would most likely keep my kids home. When I look at this, anything “half-way” is like drinking half the poison. If my husband and I are going to be at work and around other people, then I feel like my kids should get all the benefits of being in school with their teachers and friends, because they are most likely going to be exposed to it at some point anyway. The likelihood of my kids having horrible complications from Covid-19 is extremely low. There, I said it. Yes, they could be a spreader. They could bring it home and infect their grandparents. I don’t feel like the risks are not there, but for our family the benefits outweigh the risks.

Like everyone else, I have put so much thought into this. There are so many different scenarios that are going to play out on a weekly basis. What I hope and pray for most is that we all show a little kindness and grace towards each other as we navigate these unknown waters. We don’t know everyone’s individual situations, but I can guarantee that we are all trying to do what is best, safest, and healthiest for our kids. That isn’t going to look the same for everyone.

For someone with an at-risk person for complications from Covid living in their home, what is healthiest may be staying at home and away from other people until there is a vaccine. For a home with a stay at home parent, homeschooling may be a less risky and more dependable choice. For a single parent who counts on school for their children while they work, going to school full-time might be the only chance they have at keeping their heads above water. For a dual working parent home, school might be what works for now.

I also realize that this may be our reality for this week, and next week might look totally different. The anxiety this causes is overwhelming. I am not sure what we will do if/when my kids go virtual because of an exposure. If I were keeping my kids home, I know I would have the weight of the world on my shoulders wondering if I could hack it as a homeschool teacher. If my kids were two days on, two days off, I would be scrambling to figure out what in the world to do with my kids to give them some sort of normalcy while still learning. This is not easy for anyone and I have a feeling it is going to continue to be a series of difficult decisions and zigs and zags following a map into some weird uncharted territory.

As we all travel together in this new world, choose to show grace and kindness. Pick your words thoughtfully, think about the memes you post, and the things you say to friends and strangers. This is hard. At this point, we are all very weary travelers. We are trying to do the best for our kids in our own individual situations. What is “the best” right now may change, it may turn out to be the wrong choice or it may turn out to be great, but handle friends and strangers with grace and kindness.

This is hard. Be in it together, because at the end of the day we are all traveling together.