When the coronavirus struck in March and remote learning began, I started a video diary, documenting the ups and downs of guiding my two children, Madeline, a six-year-old kindergartener, and Annabelle, a four-year-old in 3K, through a new way of going to school.
It was hard. There's no other way to put it.
"I am so overwhelmed I’m going to poke my eyes out," I said after one particularly frustrating day.
Their days began by checking in for online school by 9 o'clock. We had to print out pages from our email account and look through which assignments were due for the day.
Each day was a long day, one that often felt like it would never end.
Most days, Madeline did her work with no problem, but she did often admit that being home just wasn't the same as being in the classroom.
"I miss school very much," she told me.
In April, when we started to develop a little bit of a routine, I started to realize that the things that drive me crazy as a mom -- when she won't sit still or or when she doesn’t pay attention -- are the things that I needed to get over when I was trying to be the teacher.
That was been the biggest lesson for me: how to be patient in a way that I never knew that I could.
I wasn't always been successful. I struggled a lot.
My children noticed.
"You’re not even my teacher," Annabelle told me.
Her sister followed up with, "I wish I was at school."
In May, I started to care less about their education and more about their emotional state. I noticed a change in them; they seemed less happy.
I started soliciting help from teachers and from other parents, asking them, "are you guys feeling this? Because we’re feeling this too and it’s heartbreaking."
Working at home in the middle of this added to the stress.
I've always had to work under deadlines; being under a time crunch is just a normal part of my day. But my girls didn't always understand that I had stuff I needed to do, and I was often interrupted.
I had many days where I felt inadequate; with personal and professional responsibilities, there really just wasn't enough of me to go around.
By about the end of May, Madeline started getting fed up.
"I can’t be in school; I can’t see friends and I especially can’t see family. So it’s hard," she said.
I think that part of the subtle depression that we all suffered from, my daughter included, had to do a lot with the fact that a lot of days we really didn’t go beyond our block or see other people.
But when June came, we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel: an end to remote learning!
Last week, we celebrated a stepping up from kindergarten to first grade.
It was amazing. Madeline really needed it, and I think I needed it, too.
We got her an ice cream cake. It was so gratifying to see her feel proud.
I’m less scared about September now that I know what I’ll be in for, and there’s some comfort in that.
If we do have to stay home and homeschool again, will that stink? Yes. Will we survive? Yes.
And I think that’s really the lesson here: this knowledge that we're resilient. She knows that things will work out, and that whatever small victories we earn will be celebrated to the high heavens.
We will deal with whatever comes our way in September.