Our middle schooler went back to school today for his first day of in-person instruction in 13 months, on this first day of fourth quarter.
We survived distance learning. Many days were good, and it truly was a privilege to coach my kids through the challenges of time management, analytical thinking, and hard algebra problems – in some cases modeling how to find an answer when we don’t know. But I’m exhausted. I did a lot of reminding and redirecting. I tried to maintain screen-time limits. I expected them to do quality work. I even expected them to do their school work before giving in to the pull of online games. I earned the distinction of “meanest mom ever” for such expectations. I was frustrated at their unwillingness or inability to monitor themselves, particularly the older one. Mid-pandemic, I wallowed in mom guilt about not providing my boys with sufficient opportunities for social interaction. I planned and served three meals a day, day after day, week after week, in months that started to all blur together. (The kids did help with the cooking and the clean up, but ultimately, making sure it all got done rested on my shoulders.)
All was not in vain, I realized during a conversation with my older son on the last day of third quarter.
“I’m sorry for making your life difficult,” my teen had said, poking his head in our bedroom, where I’d silently retreated to get away from his brother who was whining about being on kitchen clean-up duty that evening.
Many days he had made life more difficult. But parenting is worth the effort, I was sure at that moment. We had grown in patience and grace during this time, even if some days the evidence looked meager.
We’re ready for this fresh start. May the things we’ve learned serve us well as we face new, unknown challenges ahead.
This picture at the bus stop was from late February, when weekly middle school in-person support started (still all middle school classes were online) and the boys rode the bus together for the first time this year. The photo idea was vetoed this morning.