Well, I’m officially entertaining myself with rolls of toilet paper over here. Thank God we’d just gone to Costco before The Great TP Hoarding of 2020 began. My family eats lots of veggies though, and our guts are very healthy, so we’re working through our supply pretty quickly, if you know what I mean! When the hubs and I stopped by the store earlier this week, I mentioned that we’re halfway through our stash and that maybe we should go ahead and grab a new pack. He was like, nope. We’re not going to be those people that stockpile stuff. I love him for that. But I do also have a spare roll hidden in my purse, just in case.
Y’all this is such a strange season in life. On the one hand, I love spending more quality time with my daughter. I love being able to slow down and be creative with her. On the other hand, yoga with an eight year-old giggling as the instructor tells us to tighten our “bathroom muscles,” while a schnoodle helpfully licks our faces, has got my Type A personality spinning.
I have a million random thoughts running through my head daily. This post is an example of how my brain is ping ponging from one idea to the next in all of this new space we have to think. I thought about not publishing it at all, but then decided why not? It’s a testament to the structured chaos of life presently.
There’s beauty in the practice of letting go of what used to be comforting as we adapt to these new norms, but I’m also exhausted in ways that I wasn’t before. I’m mentally depleted more quickly. While our pace is slower, being a working mom + mom + schooling at home mom all at the same time is not easy. And I’m so fortunate that for my family it’s only that – strange, uncomfortable, and minorly stressful. While the struggle to juggle my own work and learning at home for my daughter is real, my frustrations are put into perspective when I realize that we could literally sit in front of the T.V. eating Oreos all day, and my daughter would still be happy, fed, and safe. That’s privilege that many parents and students don’t have.
Right now for example, students in our community are working 60 plus hours a week in grocery stores. Some are working night shifts stocking shelves. Others are now the childcare providers for their siblings and cousins, so their parents can continue working. In some cases, they’re the ones caring for their sick parents. I worry for the students that I know have an alcoholic relative at home. I worry for the students that wear the same clothes for months on end. How are they getting by right now? I worry for the students that are separated from their parents by borders. Have they gone back home? How are they faring if they’ve stayed? What does life look like right now for all of these kids and their families?
I don’t want to become complacent in the comfort I find in my own home and family, or to equate the ebb and flow of my days with true hardship. I can’t ignore the fact that as I’m sheltering within the safety of my own home, many students have been thrust into adult roles. Now more than ever it’s evident that our nation’s public schools are often not academic environments first and foremost. They’re a national safety net. A system that provides emotional, mental, and economic support services. A community that provides structure, love, protection, and childcare. A safe space from violence or abuse. Education can only happen after basic needs are met, and if a home can’t provide those environments for whatever reason, then public schools step in.
I’m thankful for the heroes in our community who are working to ensure that online mental health resources and food services are still being made available for our students. I’m thankful for technology and that school districts are working to make learning opportunities available for families that do have the capability for their child to engage with online education. Many do not though. Basically, I hope and pray that at the end of the day when we come out on the other side of this pandemic, I haven’t been so caught up in myself that I fail to acknowledge and do my part to address the inequitable effects of COVID-19 on the mental, economic, and academic health of our community. I don’t really know what that means or looks like, but I hope that recognizing it and talking about it in between taking silly pictures and diving head first through the revolving door of my pantry is a small start.