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As of today, my kids are back to online/at-home school for two full weeks. Maybe longer, depending how Omicron and its effects play out.
I found distance learning hard last year when Nate was in preschool all morning and I just had Evan doing first grade. He hated sitting still in front of a screen and not getting to interact much with other kids (not the teacher’s fault, just Zoom meetings by nature).
And getting him to do the actual work was downright painful. Writing assignments were the worst. I had to coax him every step of the way and was exhausted by the time we got through a single journal entry.
Now, in addition to a second grader whose dislike of online learning has only become more entrenched, I also have a kindergartner doing virtual school.
And a baby. A baby who decided THIS was the week to start crawling – okay, more like butt scooting, but it gets him from point A to point B — and is into EVerything.
Today when he charged down the hall toward the bathroom, I leapt over him to close the door.
He immediately lowered his head to the floor and began to sob at the pleasure I’d just denied him. Both super funny and super exhausting as I think of all the battles to come over plungers and stray scissors and crusty food discovered in the recesses of the dining room.
I, like so many others, feel utterly depleted at this point.
Today, the thought I have nothing left to give echoed through my head as we attempted our first day of online school.
I tried to be chipper, and there were some bright spots. I took particular pride in my impromptu “menu du jour,” watching the boys’ faces light up as they got to check boxes indicating whether they’d prefer leftover spaghetti or PB&J, corn or carrots.
But there were also meltdowns and arguments and moments where I just snapped.
My kids are sick of pandemic disruptions and being cooped up at home, and are acting accordingly. I get it, yet when I search for patience and encouragement to offer them, I scrape the bottom of my own empty well.
One of the hardest parts of the pandemic is not knowing when it will really, truly be over.
I remember those heady days of May/June 2021 when the science-believers among us were all freshly vaccinated. New cases were close to zero. I was giddy – we’d made it through!
Oh, if only we’d known. Probably better that we didn’t.
But returning to the present problem, having nothing left to give isn’t a viable option. There are still little people to snuggle and feed, read to and log onto Google Meet, bathe and tuck into bed.
The only way I know how to replenish my reserves when mine are all tapped out is, in the wise words of John Donohue, to be exceedingly gentle with myself.
I’m going to go to bed early, take long showers, use paper plates, order as much takeout as needed.
I’m going to pick and choose from the virtual assignments and give the kids additional screen time.
I’m going to tune out the news and try to be as present and as patient as I can with my loved ones.
All of which means I unfortunately have to hit pause on this blog until things get back to normal (whatever “normal” even means two years into a global pandemic).
When I have time and energy, writing fills me up. But when I’m struggling to just get through the days and meet everyone’s basic needs, including my own, it feels like one more thing I’m failing at.
Off to deal with a late, messed-up Instacart order, because of course getting groceries also had to be complicated today, then to practice some excessive gentleness.
All the best and look forward to writing to you again in a few weeks.