Close-range parenting

As I write this, I am sitting at the picnic table on our deck. This is my office until about mid-morning when the July heat will make it hotter than hell’s front porch. Then I move to the bedroom.

My husband is working in the corner of the bonus storage room above our carport. It’s the only non-bedroom room with a door. A previous owner added it in order to move the washer and dryer out of the kitchen, but it is the size of a small bedroom – just with a concrete floor and no insulation. So, in between conference calls – his and mine – I run in to move the clothes from one machine to the other.

My office mate likes to sleep on the job.

We set up my son’s desk in the dining room. In August, this will again be “school” for him, though right now it is the scene of too many Roblox marathons. My daughter, at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, is still asleep. But when she wakes up, she will spend the better part of the day on her laptop or phone.

I have had friends–also working from home with kids in a pandemic–ask me ‘what I do about screen time.’ My answer: I make them wear headphones or keep the volume low.

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The way forward is to not look back

The quote above came across my Facebook feed two days ago. A few days after we learned that Georgia set a daily record for new cases of COVID-19. Also the day the kids learned that they won’t be going back to school in August but will continue “online learning” at home, instead.

My son turns 10 at the end of July. My daughter will be 13 the first week of August. They know that there will be only our immediate family and friends from next door over to celebrate. Not the Tennessee grandparents. No school friends.

They have taken the news really well. Better than I have. When I allow myself to compare our lives six months ago with our lives today, it definitely steals any joy.

Mostly I regret all the things I took for granted. I remember how much I hated how early my son had to catch the bus for school. I remember confidently making summer travel plans six months in advance.

Now I worry about keeping my family alive. I wonder how long my husband’s job will hold out if the pandemic continues unabated. I wonder if I will be able to find more work if it doesn’t.

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