There’s a point at which you simply can’t hold things in anymore. Pandemic fatigue is a real thing, folks, and for many of us in education (and everywhere else), we’re over it.
We’re over the constant not knowing when a quarantine or isolation situation is going to crop up…and who will be impacted.
We’re overwhelmed with worry about our kids and their families when a little says that they don’t feel so good or doesn’t come to school.
We’re done with flexing, pivoting, and being polite when we’re told that this isn’t a big deal and it’s almost run its course or that it’s a hoax.
We’re over stripping down and throwing all our clothes from the day in the washing machine as we walk in the door after work. We’re also tired of choosing what to wear based on what’s easily washed and dried.
We’re over turning around halfway to work when we realized we left our mask sitting next to the coffee mug we walked out without as well.
We’re tired of telling kids they can’t hug each other when one is sad and using pool noodles to illustrate physical 6′ distance when kids just want to be close to one another and hang out or play more than shadow tag.
We’re exhausted from wearing masks, holing up in our classrooms and offices, having Google Meets and Zoom Meetings and turning off our camera so colleagues don’t see us cry or get angry about all. the. things, and muting and unmuting while trying not to talk over others.
And we’re tired of not being able to shake hands, hug, comfort, or just be close to the people we care about…
There’s an exhaustion about all of this, and for our gifted population of kids, parents, colleagues, multiply it by 100, because not only are we feeling our OWN feels, we’re feeling the feels of everyone else around us, listening to the criticism, the layers of problem solving, the sadness over loss and grief over deaths, the fear, and the overall weariness of everyone around us, all while trying to portray strength and leadership for those around us so that there is a familiar feeling…at least for a little while.
And meanwhile, we’re trying to celebrate little things like the early arrival of a friend’s baby, the progress of a friend’s child in reading, an award given by a state level organization for a beautiful painting, throwing parachutes made by kids to protect a coveted snack off the roof, a friend’s dog winning a championship or having a healthy litter of puppies, and finding the last bag of Smarties on the planet before Halloween (wish me luck, I’m stopping on the way home…)
But the feels hit at the most inopportune times. When we’re making dinner, or waiting in the coffee kiosk’s line int he morning. When we’re listening to a book that has nothing at all to do with the present time. When we’re walking the dog in the freezing cold on a snow day. When a friend brings us coffee and even with a mask on, they can tell something isn’t right. And suddenly just looking at one another, the tears flow like a waterfall, and minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months of holding it all in come flooding out with unintelligible words…and the only thing they can do is be there…from six feet away…sending healing energy because holding someone while they cry isn’t allowed.
A friend noted that we may be feeling all this now, but our kids and their kids will continue to experience this for generations to come…
How do we help one another and all of our kids through this?
We listen. We hold space for each other. We can’t solve it. We can’t fix it. But we can let the feelings happen and acknowledge they exist. Brené Brown (who is so very wise) says that that’s the only way to get through this…let the feels happen, acknowledge them…and then let them go because holding on to them isn’t helpful… That’s self-care, too.