In the midst of a pandemic, what do we know? Absolutely nothing. This is uncharted territory and we are left without a learning curve. What token of wisdom can I offer? Maybe a simple story.
In a nutshell — working parents are not OK.
My family has been quarantined now for a little over a month. We were enjoying a staycation prior to the Center for Disease Control’s guidance being released. That staycation quickly morphed into a state of disarray, like a house guest who has overstayed their welcome.
My husband and I both have full-time jobs and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to work from home. But with three children, a school-age, preschooler and an infant, comes another slew of responsibility. We have gone to working remotely, homeschooling and 24/7 short-order cooks. Our entire world has quickly collapsed.
Not to say we don’t have good moments, because we do, and they are simply beautiful. From watching our 7-year-old daughter teach her 4-year-old brother new skills to seeing our 8-month-old clap his hands to the beat of a song — there is definitely some beauty amidst all the chaos.
After the kids fall asleep for the fourth time at night, my husband and I make a plan for the next day that consists of the never-ending question: “What time are your calls?” — because, you know, everyone’s on Zoom now. At the end of it all we have to squeeze our children and their needs into the day. That’s awful (I hated typing that). I feel like an awful parent in a world that was already hard on us.
About two weeks ago, I was playing with my children and I told them I had 10 minutes until my next call. That was it; that was all it took to make my children break down. My daughter threw a huge tantrum and my son started screaming, “I hate calls!” Deep down I was throwing a tantrum, too. My husband stepped in as I ducked into a quieter room. I had three minutes left before my call began so I used two of them to cry … I wiped my tears and logged into the video. Maybe after all this is said and done, I can add “actress” to my resume since each day takes some performing to get through.
After that moment I talked to my husband and said we can’t be the only ones. Then out of the blue a friend reaches out about her hard day. That’s when I took a step to create a group on Facebook,’Dear Employer.’ The group isn’t about employers, so please don’t think it’s a forum for that, but it’s a place to be open and honest about our failures throughout the day. A place for working parents to come together. Because I was right, we are far from alone in this.
Social media has proven to be very resourceful during this time. I stumbled across a group full of activities that are both enjoyable and educational for my children. I found it about three weeks ago and only just realized that the group is French. How could I have missed that? Literally everything was in a foreign language — I mean I would love to give my two years of college French the credit — but it all came together for me at that moment. This pandemic has caused so much anxiety and fear but it’s also caused us to become a single community, to come together as one.
I end with this — as I rock my baby to sleep and write this article while typing with my thumb on my cell phone — a quote by one of my new favorites, “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” – Winnie the Pooh. If you find yourself at a loss, you are not alone. There is a community of us and we’re all old friends now.
Koshia Silver is a marketing and communications professional in OKC and mom of three.