This morning I woke up early. I wanted to wake up before my kids so I could have some moments of calm and time just to myself before the fantastic noisiness of two young girls fills the house.
I spent the whole first hour organizing. Organizing what is now our “classroom”. My husband and I pulled an old kitchen table out of our shop and put it in the space in our house that was once actually used as a dining area, before previous owners renovated the house.
I cleaned out all of my books and magazines from a tall bookcase to make room for books and learning materials for my kids. They have different materials and learning needs as one is a first grader and the other is in preschool.
It was that thought that prompted me to write this entry. That simple thought. Because I realized, I no longer have a first grader and a preschooler. My kids are now done with school. They won’t get to see their classmates for a long time. They won’t have their same teachers again, both of whom we all adore.
By the time my oldest returns to school, she will be a second grader, and my youngest will be starting kindergarten at the same school. They didn’t get to wrap up the end of the year and have goodbye parties and celebrate summer birthdays and all the things that mark the transition of another school year.
What really hit home was unpacking the paper bag full of school items for my oldest. She received it from a friend who’d dropped it off a couple days ago. Her teacher had packed everything up from their desks and artwork they’d made from around the classroom walls.
As she was going through the items she was so happy to see all her things. She expressed surprise that her teacher had given her the artwork, but was happy to have it. She doesn’t realize the school year, as she knew it, is over for her. I haven’t told her yet. Quite frankly, I’m not sure how. At this point I suppose I’ll wait until a little more time passes and she starts questioning why it’s taking so long to go back. Part of me feels this is the chicken’s way out of a tough conversation. Part of me just wants to protect her from more sadness, fear and uncertainty. Part of me is afraid.
My youngest is no longer a preschooler. By the next time she steps into a classroom she will be in elementary school. At this point there is still some uncertainty as to when that will be. Some reports say the school closures could bleed into the fall. I wouldn’t be surprised. Not much is surprising me these days.
I’m sure some, if not a lot, of you have felt some semblance of all these things. Those with children anyhow. You know what I say? It’s ok. Have a good cry when you can steal away by yourself. I’m trying to remain as calm and collected as possible in front of my kids because all of this is traumatic enough without seeing me break down in tears and then have to explain why.
I’m not afraid to cry in front of my kids. I’ve actually done it many, many times. I’m an emotional person. I have a big heart and I tend to wear it hanging out on my sleeve where everyone can see it, for better or worse. But during this time, I’m trying my best to hide my fear and sadness from them because our kids look up to us and need us to protect them. They shouldn’t feel responsible for protecting us.
Even though we’ve created this “at home classroom”, I’m in no way able to replace their teacher or their school classrooms, and neither are you. And that’s 100% ok, you don’t have to. Stop making yourself feel guilty about not “teaching” them more. Our children learn from us everyday in so many ways. Parenting is teaching. It just looks different than a classroom. Do what you can, when you can. The learning will come.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. I’m sure you hear this a lot but I’m here to say it again. Take care of yourself. You will be able to care for others better if you are cared for too.
Peace, love, health, and hope to all of you.