My son is entering kindergarten this year and after great discussion and debate, my husband and I decided to take advantage of our county’s offer of e-learning for the semester. This means I’ll be stepping down from my job of 12 years and teaching my son.
The last day at my current job was August 13th. My first day as a stay at home mom/teacher is tomorrow, August 17th. We are fortunate that we can entertain and make this choice.
Either way, I feel like I’m making the wrong choice. Will my son look back on this time with disdain? Will he understand the stress of making a choice with lasting consequences? Will this have lasting effects on our mental health and wellbeing?
I know that others don’t have much of a choice. Counties that are opening schools to only e-learning leave families in tough situations. There are families that cannot live on a single income or only have a single income with limited childcare options. Some families don’t make a living wage and barely scrape by with government assistance. These families rely on schools and the community for education and other services.
The truth is, as a society, we are not prepared or willing to consider that not everyone needs to or has to work. As robots are created to do more and more mundane labor, groups of laborers are without jobs and are forced to find new employment. At some point, jobs will not be there and people will still be standing, wanting for the basic necessities.
But I digress. At the moment, I am glad that an option is offered for my son’s school system but worry about the kids and families that will walk into school on August 17th. Kids need the socialization and education that schools supply but they should also be safe from the pandemic. We are faced with limited and conflicting data on how this virus affects children. People are prone to confirmation bias. I know that I’ve done it. And I will make the mistake again. Some may think that I am being overly protective and I’m okay with that. I just ask for support in my decisions as I support others in theirs.
The summer, my son has been in camp at the daycare he’s attended since he was a year old. He has lost 2 of his 3 masks. How many masks will be lost this school year as we try to prevent the spread of a virus with a growing list of complications? It will take years to sort out the long-term effects of COVID-19. People take for granted the fast-acting world of science. People forget that science changes as new evidence presents itself. And not in a “hey, look what I have for you today Science.” In a “look what I have been studying for the last few months. It changes what we know about X. Can someone recreate this process to see if it’s correct?” kind of science.
I take my temperature before I take medicine for a headache, just in case. I randomly take my son’s temperature because he runs a little hot and I run a little cold so I’m not always sure if he’s running a fever or not. My husband bought a touch-less thermometer to check to see if they were accurate and a finger oxygen sensor for adults. We have an oxygen sensor for our son from when he was a baby. That’s a different, long story unto itself. We could use that one, but my husband bought the adult one anyway. Rather, he bought it and then told me about it.
That is just the tip of his “hunker down mode” as he calls it. He is trying to gather all the supplies we need while I am out of a job with income. Lots of organizational items. I asked him to pick up a ream of paper printer paper. He bought a box.
Everything is changing here. I am scared that I will do a poor job and let my family down, let myself down. I worry that I will not have an escape plan from my marriage if it comes to that. My husband and I have a solid relationship, but it is still a worry. And that worry is just baggage of being raised by a single parent and knowing how hard it can be. I also know that it was one of the best decisions my mom made for herself and her children. It is still scary to think about. The what-ifs in life that creep into the back of my mind while I am trying to live and grow and change can consume me if I let it. Each step is filled with trepidation and questions.
For all the parents out there struggling with this, know you are not alone. We are all here trying to make the right decisions, the best decisions for our families. I see you and I hope you see me. And maybe, just maybe in a year we can look back and laugh. But know that these struggles contribute to who we are and we will get through all the worries and tears somehow.