Balancing Being Mom in the Age of Coronavirus
We never dreamed we'd have to manage even more. Here's to all the ways we're making it work
So this is what a tightrope walker feels like: teetering one minute, garnering courage to stride forward the next, only to lose your balance, then pull yourself upright to attempt the next step with renewed tenacity.
Much of this new (for now) normal is about equilibrium, finding the harmony of remaining calm while arming yourself with as much information as you can.
Yes, of course I want to stay safe and best protect my family. I also want to recognize that there is joy out there amidst the sorrow.
Social media exemplifies the full range of emotion. You have people who are eager to share their faith…their furor…their fear. Those who blame (the Chinese, the President, an angry God)…those who cry foul (shaming the selfish neighbor who stockpiled Lysol wipes), but you also have those who in the midst of it all remind us that this too shall pass. They cannot tell us when or provide the cure, but in their own way they give us hope.
Not wanting to dismiss the daily suffering around us, it is valuable to appreciate some elements of humor that this current situation brings. Just when you think you’ve read the last, another toilet paper joke appears in your inbox. Perhaps you, too, have grown weary of bingeing tales and big belly memes. On a personal note, I can report that my refrigerator successfully lost 5 lbs last week alone.
One thing that we can all agree on is that through this ordeal, keeping in touch with friends and family has never been more meaningful. How fortunate we are to chat, text or FaceTime whenever we like. Hearing my sons’ and daughter’s voices brings me comfort and joy. Spending time with my husband is a gift.
Last Sunday, we spoke with my husband Rick’s daughter Anna, who is a teacher in Italy. Like her compatriots, she and her family have been housebound since last month, forbidden to leave their homes for more than a few minutes each day. For the past several weeks, she has been instructing her students via video conference. Class ‘meets’ on a Zoom-like platform from where she and the kids can interact from squares all around her screen. Think opening credits of The Brady Bunch with 20 Italian Marcias, Jans and Gregs.
When grading tests recently, Anna discovered that oddly, many of her less than average pupils were turning in A+ work instead of their usual C’s and D’s. She shared this discovery with a colleague who noticed the up-trend as well. They both agreed that something seemed amiss. As state-wide exams approached, the other teacher decided to test her suspicions by switching from written assignments to ‘one on one’ oral quizzes. No group settings, just the teacher and her student, faccia a faccia.
One day, the professoressa was quizzing (let’s call him) ‘Gianni,’ a notorious trouble-making, mediocre student. As she was waiting for the boy to respond, the teacher noticed some movement — a blur of sorts creeping along the lower right hand corner of her laptop.
At last the teacher understood and yelled, ‘Eh! Signora Rossi! Stop right there. You do know that I can see you, right?’
There was Gianni’s mamma, caught coaching and crouching beneath the dining room table. Instead of hovering and helicoptering, this mother stalked from below, waiting to intercept while attempting to stay under the radar.
She was, in fact, a classic ‘Submarine Mom.’
Most of my pals chuckled when they heard this story, probably because our kids were all launched. One friend who did not find the tale amusing is currently sheltering in place with her husband and their three teenage boys. She never dreamed of having to manage her family’s business while being in charge of daily cooking, nonstop housekeeping and overseeing distance learning in her home.
Imagining myself in her shoes made me shudder. If ever I had to homeschool my children, I’d be graded an ‘F’ and invited to take early retirement.
Read more of Mimi’s writing on her blog Just So Mimi.