I was hitting a breaking point. My beloved boss was leaving, and I was taking over many of her duties. My husband and I hadn’t had a date, or moment of rest, really, in almost a year. The stress of parenting in a pandemic was taking a toll on my body—I had come down with a painful streak of rashes on my abdomen, which turned out to be shingles. Then, my son’s teacher sent out instructions for yet another learning program, and the log-in wasn’t working.
“We’re giving up,” I said to my son in one of my not-finest parenting moments. And so I did. I simply stopped checking his iPad for assignments.
I’m not alone. Here at Working Mother, we’ve heard from plenty of working parents who have stopped keeping tabs on their kids’ virtual learning, overwhelmed by the sheer volume of apps and logins and passwords and all the strange new lingo. (I’d be very happy never to hear “asynchronous learning” again.)
Soon enough, I received an email from my son’s teacher, a reminder to sign up for the program I’d abandoned. It was time for some real talk.
“I have to be honest,” I replied. “I’m having a hard time keeping up with the sheer number of programs/apps. I know this isn’t within your control. Just wanted to say thank you so much for being patient with us!”
Her reply was straightforward, but it brought me to tears. “In order to better support you, I have created a document with all the websites we are using along with your child’s username and password. It will hopefully alleviate some stress. The document is attached to this email. Have a wonderful weekend and be safe.”
Armed with the information I needed in one spot, I was able to outsource the task to my husband, who is admittedly better at tech troubleshooting. Within 20 minutes, he had my son set up on every app and happily doing his schoolwork.
All because his teacher—a working mom herself—took time out of her day to make my life a little easier. It was a simple solution, but the symbolism spoke volumes.
This, I should note, was after she gave us permission to log on to virtual class 15 minutes late in the mornings, because the time conflicted with my daughter’s daycare drop-off. After she lovingly created individual desks and nearby cubbies for each kiddo in her classroom. After she painstakingly crafted cute dry-erase learning packets to keep at home.
She did all of this, of course, at great personal risk—reporting to her job in the midst of a pandemic.
And I know she’s not alone. There are millions of teachers across the country right now who are coming up with innovative ways to teach virtually. Who are hosting social studies and science classes outside, where it’s safer and they can take advantage of the natural world. Who have burned through their own money to make their classrooms more welcoming in the midst of a scary world for kids. Who are sacrificing time with their own families to help their students (and their overloaded parents) navigate confusing computer programs.
And, best of all, they are giving us grace. They are allowing us to sign on late and miss a few projects, because they know this year has been enormously hard on working families. Because they love their students, and want the best for them—and they know the best thing for their students are healthy, happy families.
To the millions of teachers who are doing a damn good job during these terrible times, who are holding our hands and helping working moms survive this year with our sanity intact: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We can’t say it enough. Thank you.