Ok, coronavirus, first of all, what are you and why are you so mean? Truth be told, prior to this pandemic, I had never even heard the term coronavirus. I have lived long enough in this life to have been aware of news stories about SARS and MERSA, but neither of those health crisis’ hit close enough to home for me to pay too much attention. Well, guess, what? I’m paying attention now. Not by choice, but by circumstance.
Here are my personal stats. I am a working professional. I am a mom. And now, thanks to COVID-19, I am a mom working from home. I have two kids, a 9-year-old son, and a 6-year-old daughter. Their 4th Grade and Kindergarten school years were indefinitely interrupted on March 13, when Governor Pritzker issued the mandate that all Illinois schools temporarily close. My kids and I have been home together 24/7 ever since. My husband, considered an essential worker, continues to leave the house every Monday through Friday to go to work (normal hours, normal routine). Honestly not much has changed for him. I, too, am considered an essential worker; however, unlike my husband, EVERYTHING has changed for me and how I do my job.
The struggle is too real
Truth be told, I was asked to write this blog about being a working mom (working from home during this pandemic), a few weeks ago. However, I have been struggling to find something positive to say about the situation. And as result, I have spent a considerable amount of time staring at an open Word document on my computer; angrily typing (and then deleting) in the moment snippets about how hard this is, how unfair this is, how stressed out I am, how I can’t cope, can’t do it, and how I secretly wish I wasn’t working so I could stop feeling strangled by the weight of needing to be an effective and productive employee, but also a present and engaged mom to my kids.
They say there is a rainbow at the end of every storm…
Well, here I am, really writing now, and I am still struggling to find the positive……struggling to see the rainbow after the rainstorm. I guess it’s because the rainstorm is still pounding down with no anticipated end.
Here’s the thing. I did not ask for this. My kids did not ask for this. It’s not fair to them that the much-needed consistency of their lives as they knew it has been mandatorily suspended. It’s not fair to me (or any other working mom) that the individual space we had created for our work life, our home life, and our mom life has now been forcibly shoved into one (very crowded) space.
But then again, our Country did not ask for this; the whole world did not ask for this. Those who have become infected with COVID-19 did not ask for this. Those that have died as a result did not ask for this. Those who have inexplicably lost their jobs or their businesses did not ask for this.
So for me, I think that is where I am trying to find the rainbow. Even though it’s hard, I am grateful to have a job. Even though my kids are struggling to process social distancing and sheltering in place concepts, they are healthy and safe. We are all finding ways to make personal connections in new ways. I never thought I would be organizing a “virtual scavenger hunt” for the kids and their friends over a Zoom call. I never thought I would order my groceries online. I never thought my parents could figure out how to Facetime.
And frankly, I never thought I could personally be such a master multi-tasker; managing Kindergarten and 4thGrade e-learning assignments while simultaneously doing my own work, while checking emails, while making breakfast, while pouring coffee, while doing laundry, while keeping the whole house sanitized, and while doing…….well, everything else. But somehow, it’s all getting done. Somehow, my kids are finding a way to be patient and respectful of my work time. Somehow, they are finding ways to work better together. Somehow, we are making sure we spend time outside and time being creative together each day. In our normal, busy life we did not always make time to do that because school and work and social commitments were always taking us away from each other more often than I would like to admit.
I guess I am saying this as much for myself like all the other working moms out there (working from home with kids right now)….this is NOT an easy time for us or our kids. I am angry because I have been thrown, forcefully, into this unexpected situation. But my logical self knows that this IS temporary. It WILL end. We will eventually all get back to our former routines, where we will undoubtedly (once again) be pulled in different directions from each other. When that happens, we will think back on this time of forced togetherness…..and will we miss it? Since we have no choice, maybe try to take this time to find your rainbow……I will keep trying, too.
Written by Crystal Pavloski
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