I have stayed fairly quiet since leaving school last Friday afternoon when I slipped out quickly after a staff meeting that outlined steps for the next week. I didn’t want to be caught–it would have been too much. Mixed feelings.

I’ve shared memes and puppy updates and learning opportunity ideas online, checked email, scheduled appointments for Thanksgiving Break, listened to multiple books and podcasts, and avoided the news as much as possible. I’ve done laundry, cleaned the bathroom and kitchen (my GOD how does it get so dirty when there’s only one of me and I’m not here much??), and gone for lots of walks with the dog, hoping she’ll figure out that cars aren’t evil and the park is good. I’ve spoken to my elderly mom by phone, agreeing that me not going to visit is best. I’ve napped, chatted online with friends, and made a few trips out to get things I didn’t realize were needed until there wasn’t any left.

All the while, I’ve watched post after post on social media from parents and teachers, both excited to get to try online learning or homeschooling and frustrated because it’s difficult to do with littles, multiples, and while you’re also supposed to be working at home or still have to go to work because your job doesn’t do “work from home.”

Some teachers are all about using the online platform to work with kids and planning lots of activities for the kids so that they feel like they’re doing their job, and experimenting with new ways to reach kids–this brings them joy. Teachers everywhere are working hard to prepare engaging lessons that look a lot different than we’re used to, rounding up resources and videos to share with kids and families, facilitating chats and video meets, and sending reminder emails to kids about missing work that kids have a bit of time to finish now.

Some teachers are worried about how to meet the needs of kids who aren’t part of the “haves…” Those who are food insecure, home insecure, care insecure. Those for whom school was the safety net. Those whose parents have to still go to work every day leaving them behind with no internet and smaller siblings to care for and entertain until one or more family member can come home to sleep between jobs. They provided general guidance before all of this started–read a lot, practice your math facts, play games you learned in school, and play outside. They want to do more, share more, provide more…but may not have a way to connect to the kids they miss so much.

Still others are concerned that kids needs aren’t being met due to IEPs and 504s and parents and other caregivers not being able to support those needs. And what to do about the meetings with parents scheduled for end of year? Kids moving to new schools need to have meetings with new school personnel to explain the plans and talk about how things will work next year…if there is a next year.

Parents are being rock stars overall though–keeping it together for the sake of their kids, getting creative with time and childcare and family needs, arranging for food and medications, learning opportunities, time outside, and mediating squabbles like a boss. Those working at home are doing a fantastic balancing act…and those still working at work are too–balancing the worry with the work that must be done. Compartmentalizing skill must come with the parenting book. There’s meme’s a-plenty about wine or whisky in sippy cups, but I wouldn’t judge anyone if that is what they found helpful during this stressful time.

And some of us are stuck in limbo. Our role depends on having people to serve yet we are stuck at home. We longed to work from home on projects that make our hearts happy, and now that we have the time to do so, the projects for which we sought uninterrupted time to work on are also in limbo….can’t very well plan a conference that may not happen at all–no one is willing to commit. Don’t need to prep for state testing as it’s on “pause.” (I’m not mad about this…I’m really not.) Can’t test kids that are at home with test materials that are at school. Can’t meet with people beyond virtually, and the topics of discussion are kind of moot given the situation anyway. Suddenly, the projects I had in my mind as being critical, aren’t, and audiobook mysteries moved up the to do list.

It’s difficult to remain in the quiet of the unknown and uncertainty, even for this introvert who craves quiet and alone-time to recharge. I am fine with being at home with my fuzzy beasts, but struggling with lack of purpose and direction. My head aches with tears that are stuck–seems silly to want to cry over all this but I do. I miss my tribe. I miss my purpose. I read earlier today that it’s ok to take some time to just be…perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to set some new professional and personal goals and work on projects that I have extra time for…presentation ideas and online learning possibilities. And maybe I’ll move the cats off their cushions and vacuum underneath them and teach the dog to put away her toys when she’s done playing with them.

All while remaining quiet.

Concordia College, Moorhead, MN Summer 2019

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