Life looks different in 2020 due to the pandemic, and now that school has started, many parents (by choice or by force) are navigating the world of distance learning with their kids. For some moms, this set of events has pushed the rewind button. We are now finding ourselves once again to be fully accessible to our children while working remotely.
“You think you can handle this,” my husband asked hesitantly.
“It’s not even a question. I’ll do what I have to do,” I replied.
After watching the positive COVID numbers tick higher in our state, we agreed that distance learning was the best decision for our family. Of the 57 million K-12 students in the U.S., many of them would also be learning remotely.
Since I’ve frequently considered homeschooling, distance learning was a welcomed idea. But I knew it would flow differently because we’d be attached to our school district’s schedule and standards. But it shouldn’t be that bad, right?
What I thought would be a comprehensive learning environment with which I would have had minimal interference turned out to be me continually running back and forth between two second-graders’ computers. After settling one’s issue, the other would ‘MOM’ me, and the cycle would continue. I didn’t realize the pile of confusion I was walking into. With little planning from our district regarding virtual learning, the school board wasn’t prepared for the system crash from the digital capacity overload. Students were repeatedly getting kicked out of the system, and teachers tried to maintain composure as kids randomly announced they’d missed part of the class. Reaching out to administration was like getting directions from the Wizard behind the curtain. The communication was vague and patronizingly optimistic.
By the end of the first week, I was sitting on my bed fighting back tears and explaining to a mom friend how frustrating it had been. For both of us, trying to work remotely while stepping into an unexpected teaching role was unconscionably obligating. The word stressful doesn’t adequately sum up our days.
But despite the difficulty, we are wired to roll with it.
As military spouses, we are expected to pivot quickly and make adjustments to meet the needs of the time. But spending years bending your life to accommodate others gets old and starts to feel a little unfair. Many mothers (including myself) are now set back to being at our child’s every whine and request for help, and virtual school has inconveniently collided with pressing work-related demands.
Here are a few moms that aren’t mincing words about these taxing circumstances.
“For almost 15 years, we’ve worked through drill weekends, annual training, unscheduled trainings, and deployments,” says Amanda Olvera, project manager and Army National Guard spouse. “But nothing has been more frustrating and exhausting as e-learning with my fourth grader.”
Olvera, who is also working on a master’s degree, is once again holding down the fort at home while her husband is assigned to COVID relief in New York.
Navy spouse and mom of three, Sybil Jones, runs a home-based business.
“The challenge for me when juggling working from home and starting this year’s distance learning is setting and keeping boundaries when it comes to work.”
Jones’ children attend middle and high school and don’t need her help with their technology. But she recognizes that they require her support emotionally during this time and struggles with taking time to be in the moment with them.
Many moms toy with the idea of homeschooling. But preparing for a transition that is in your control and being pushed into one that is riddled with educational expectations are two different scenarios.
Develda Eddington is a Navy veteran, military spouse, and mom of two.
“Adding the title ‘teacher’ to my myriad of titles was definitely not on my 2020 vision board, yet here we are thriving through the chaos!” said Eddington.
Eddington runs a full-service content creation company from her home outside of Dallas. While she appreciates the opportunity to be involved with her son’s education, she admits that it’s been challenging.
The school year has just begun, and although the learning days have improved by a smidgen, I still cringe when 8:30 hits and it’s time for my children to login. No matter how much I’ve prepped for my day or set them up for success, the inevitable cry of “mom” echoes through my house and I sigh as I swing my legs from under my desk to once again come to the rescue.