Covid19 Check in Part 6

Remember this?

Sweet, naive, innocent Katherine, thinking surely the kids would be in school this fall.

Nope.

I spent the first 3 days of school with my phone in hand, alerts going off constantly to remind me when someone else needs to get on their Chromebook for class. We had a 15 minute block here or there to push the kids out the door, make someone walk the dog, go stretch your legs, etc.

they can scratch their armpits with their feet. #goals

Zoom classes and chromebooks mean monitoring to make sure my kids’ cameras are on and they are engaging in class. Not turning the camera off and pulling up a new tab to look at Pinterest or Steph Curry gifs, while the teacher lectures. Monitoring to make sure no one leaves class early and watches 3 episodes of “The Amazing World of Gumball” on YouTube.

(All of this has happened.)

Sigh.

This is not how I thought this school year would go. I envisioned sending my youngest off to kindergarten and having glorious hours to work more, to rest more, to konmari the house, to meet friends for lunch.

I have felt really resentful. Stupid global pandemic, screwing up my plans! Taking away my freedoms!

This weekend my husband gave me two nights away to rest/retreat/do whatever I wanted. (Yes. Two nights. Magical.). I kept circling back around to the word “submit”. I resent this school year, but it is time to submit to it. Submit to monitoring screens and giving our dining room over to school supplies and staying tethered to the house, for now. Coaching one kid on how to be thoughtful and attentive, even in an online classroom. Helping another with the tedious work of going through every class (time and again) to track assignments and when they are due and how to organize the time to knock it all out.

This year, there’s no outsourcing that. I need to submit to the year that is. Submit to all of it; accept it. This is where we are.

modeling submission, to the praying mantis on his face. just go with it.

Covid19 Check In Part 5

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I have been pregnant, given birth and breastfed.  I have changed diapers and potty trained children.  I have cleaned up bodily fluids and stayed up late with scared children.  I have installed multiple carseats, and I have sat in the parked car for an hour while the baby naps in the carseat.  These are all things that moms do.

But nothing- NOTHING- has made me feel more like a mom than standing in the PetSmart check out line holding a plastic bag of live crickets.

Did you know that I drive myself to PetSmart every other week to buy 60 crickets?  I do.  Even during Covid19.  I put on a mask and wear gloves and buy $7 worth of crickets.

I think that when I pictured being a mom, I pictured the pregnancy and diapers and carseats.  I heard stories about being vomited on, or sitting in the driveway so the baby could keep napping.  I heard about fevers and potty training.  I felt prepared for that.

But the crickets- I wasn’t ready for that.  That’s what really reminds me that I am a mother.  Who else would do something so nonsensical, but a parent?  How is this my life?  Buy live crickets…to put in the cricket keeper habitat…so my son can feed his geckos…that he sometimes loses in the house…and don’t forget the cricket food, because they have to eat too… repeat repeat repeat.

Also this week I sniffed a freshwater snail to see if it smelled like rotten eggs (that’s how you know it’s dead!) and that also counts.

Happy Mother’s Day, all.

 

Covid19 Check In Part 4

A few weeks ago we met (online) with a counselor we have utilized for the past few years, off and on.  One of our kids was having a particularly rough time and an outside set of eyes and ears seemed helpful.

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it’s hard to take a picture where he’s not a shapeless blob.  contrast and stillness helps.

She suggested (among other things) an exercise with our kids.  Three buckets- What We Lost, What We Have, What We Gained.  We did that together as a family that weekend.

Here’s a sampling:

What We Lost– trips, time with other people, hugging my friends, school, teachers, feeling okay about everybody’s health, seeing cousins

What We Have- each other, soccer goals, a swing outside, basketball hoop, mom’s phone (for texting friends), ice cream, hospitals, books, food

What We Gained- more time outdoors, chrome books (*), more time with the puppy, google hangouts, more baking, more time with each other

*Last week I told my boys that I would happily put the school-issued chrome books under the tire of my van and run over them.  So it really depends on who you ask, as to whether these are a gain or a loss.  TBD.

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something i lost: cute preschool crafts, that i will probably never do with my kids at home

One thing that has felt really sad lately is that I won’t get to take my youngest to preschool anymore.  That’s Something I Lost.  On school mornings, we would get the boys off to Venable- either walking them there or letting them walk themselves.  Then a little pause before hustling my oldest to Walker, then driving straight on to the church/my work/my youngest’s preschool after that.  (It’s a one-stop shop.)

On my workdays, I would bring her to my office and let her watch a video on my phone or color while I pulled out files and got ready for my day.  She would turn the lights on and the sound machine outside of my door.  She liked to say hi to Jason, who was usually already in his office when we got there.  Once he gave her some rocks, which she still has in a rock collection in her room.  He started her rock collection. Sometimes we would go by Lane’s office to slide a picture under her door.

To get to the preschool we walked through the church sanctuary.  It was usually dark and she liked to sing or say “hecko” loudly when she walked through.

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between two ferns poinsettias

Downstairs there were double doors and we were often the first or second family through there.  Say hello to Miss Keri, say hello to Miss Laurie…  Extra excitement for Lunch Bunch and special time with Miss Laurie after school, so I could work a few more hours.  She was always happy to go to school.  She loved her class, loved her teachers, and loved her buddies.

Three out of the four kids won’t return to their schools next year- they’ll move up to the next school.  No more walks with both boys to Venable.  And no more driving my daughter to Walker.  No more walking my daughter from my office, down to her preschool.

There’s a lot to be said for counting your blessings and being grateful and so on and so forth.  But there’s also something so important about naming what is gone.  Don’t leapfrog that to just land on the silver lining.  Go ahead and name it all.

We did that exercise when the coronavirus was still newish.  We were social distancing, but had not bought face masks yet.  Schools were closed for the year, but I had not considered that they wouldn’t open again in the fall.  Google hangouts were still new and exciting.  Zoom was still cool, how it highlights the person talking.  Do I want the grid view or just the speaker view?

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phase two: when UVA started coming on strong about social distancing

Safe to say the thrill has worn off many of these things now.  I feel the shock of seeing other people at the grocery store in masks, and I feel the shock when I see someone without one.  I hope we can safely see people in person again soon, but know we probably won’t without a cost.

What are your losses, haves, and gains?   I’d love to hear.