“This will be fine,” I thought to myself when schools closed. “My sons will hop online a little each week, I’ll shepherd them through the lessons, and we’ll breeze on through to summer.” And why wouldn’t it be fine? I was a classroom teacher. I developed paper-based and digital curricula for two decades. I oversee education for Sylvan, for goodness sake! This will be easy, peasy, lemon squeezie. Looking back to that naïve day in March, my optimism is almost quaint.
As a mom, this is hard. Really hard. My 2nd and 3rd grade boys want no part of online education. It was a novelty, at first, to see their teacher and their friends’ faces via Google Hangout, but as soon as they were required to do actual work, the wheels fell off the school bus fast. There was stomping. Grumbling. Words muttered under their breath that could lose them TV privileges. My boys weren’t the kind of students who would run with glee into the school building every day, but I never had complaining and push back like this. Sign-in time every day is grueling for all of us.
Another hurdle I didn’t anticipate was how hard it was to work from home full time while trying to make sure my sons were doing their online work. I’d set them up in Google Hangouts, run to my Zoom meeting, then peek in 10 minutes later to check on them … only to discover that Son #1 had put his iPad down next to him while he played Mario Kart on the Switch. Son #2 had turned off the computer camera and put his device down to go make a snack. I could hear both of their teachers trying their hardest to provide meaningful lessons, and my boys were totally checked out. In that moment I felt what most moms are probably feeling right now: overwhelmed, frustrated, and pulled in too many directions at once.
There are two life rafts keeping me afloat right now. The first is Sylvan. My boys are still attending online tutoring for math. Because they aren’t sharing a Hangout with 25 other kids, they get the full benefit of the instructional hour – and they can’t hide behind Nintendo or a snack. I’m eternally grateful, because I know it keeps their math skills moving forward in a way that I couldn’t accomplish by myself. The second life raft is my village of other moms. We text each other with school questions, to vent, and to sympathize. We take socially distant walks together and talk about our kids. We boost each other up when we’re having a bad day. These mothers make me feel less isolated and adrift, and I always feel better after connecting.
The stay-at-home nature of our world right now guarantees that this Mother’s Day will look and feel very different from Mother’s Days in the past. We may not have brunch this year, but we still have each other. Here’s to you, fellow moms! May we learn together, teach together, and lean on each other. We can do this! Happy Mother’s Day.