Blog Post From The Edge.

Updated: Feb 17

"The character of a nation is related to how it treats its most vulnerable citizens." ~M. Gandhi

For months--almost eleven months--I haven't really had time to write. A little, here and there, and I even squeezed in two writing workshops, two hours each, six months apart (both online). I'm writing now. It's a Saturday morning. Children are watching television in pajamas. Today, as I do many Saturdays, I might let them watch t.v. for a while.

Plenty of data is being written about the collective meltdown so many of us (most of us) are feeling right now. Even more prominent in my daily media smorgasbord are the articles and reports about pandemic-working-mom-fatigue--which is so real, and hits so close to home, that a mention of it on NPR is enough to make me yell wildly to myself in the car, one hand on the steering wheel and the other raised high (can anyone see me in the 7 a.m. morning commute winter darkness?)--especially about statistics like 25% of women in the United States have had to leave the workforce in order to care for their children-- children who are mostly between the ages of 8 and 12* .

We have three children: they are 8, 10, and 12. Two of them will have 504 plans by Spring, the first of which we started pursuing last October; the second of which we started pursuing the year before that (concerns fell on deaf ears). Between last March and June, many tears were shed by both the children and myself while trying to survive day after day of prescribed, 2nd- and 4th-grade homework (not to mention 5th-grade math), and figuring out why I couldn't share my whiteboard screen and therefore carefully-planned lessons with my own students. Had these kids been in school five days a week, they each would have received the one-on-one support they needed by professionals who actually know what the hell they're doing.

I am also a full-time, high-school English teacher. Those of us who know teachers intimately do not question our time commitment to the jobs we do outside the classroom, like curriculum writing, one-on-one conferences with students, professional development, professional learning communities, faculty and department meetings; personally, I also advise a club, and sit on district- and faculty-level committees. Our job does not require it, but many teachers make ourselves accessible beyond the normal school day. We respond to parent and student emails while making dinner, respond to a frantic text for help with a last-minute college essay, stay up later than we'd hoped to writing letters of recommendation after putting our kids to bed. And so on.

When the Director of the site where we enrolled our kids for their remote-learning days called me out of work to pick up our youngest child, and before I even knew what the issue was, I felt a foreign kind of rage surge through me. It was December, and it was the second call of its kind: he'd misbehaved, and if it were to happen a third time, he would no longer be able to attend the program.**

Which would mean having to stay home with him three times a week.

Which would also mean going part-time, or taking a leave of absence.

And I'm here to echo what I hear so many other women screaming into the void:

I. CANNOT. DO. THIS. I am on the brink. I am not 100% okay.

Here is a list of all the shit that needs to get done, has needed to get done, or hasn't gotten done lately:

Plan lessons for multiple grades/courses. Read the book you haven't read since 1990/this past summer, which you'll be distributing to students next week. Plan both in-class and at-home activities for texts to account for hybrid learning model. Keep the fine line between empathy and rigor in mind.

Grade work and enter 2nd quarter grades. Contact parents of students who have scored lower than 65% and in Honors cases, lower than 75%. Walk the fine line between compassion and challenge, empathy and rigor. Take care of 1st quarter Incompletes. Follow up with students who still have not completed first and second quarter work.

Get groceries, emphasis on stuff kids can pack themselves for lunch on remote days and stuff I can throw into an Instapot and hope for the best. Maybe look up recipes.

Schedule multiple counseling appointments.

Find a new counselor for kids and possibly a family therapist.

Schedule appointment with Nurse Practitioner (missed the last one due to blinding overwhelm). Call back and beg for a rescheduling.

Put a deposit on a kitchen reno. Just call her back already, she needs to know if we're still interested.

Talk to pediatrician and connect him with new therapist and (hopefully) not-too-pissed-off Nurse Practitioner.

Start and follow up processes to get FMLA in order to stay home with child in need: fill out form, have others fill out form, wait for approval. Have a plan B in case the application is denied. Have discussions with family about the plan B.

Ask music teacher when kid b should start trumpet lessons again, since music teacher's swim coaching schedule can no longer accommodate trumpet lessons for kids whose parents do not work from home.

Plan lessons for multiple grades/courses. Read the book you haven't read since 1990/this past summer, which you'll be distributing to students next week. Plan both in-class and at-home activities for texts to account for hybrid learning model. Keep the fine line between empathy and rigor in mind.

Grade the incoming work. See fine line above.

Inform parents of students who are falling behind, look excessively tired or sad, follow up with students between classes or after school.

Work with students to plan Black History Month activities that were approved on the last days of January.

Make lunches. Order lunches online if they don't include grilled cheese, anything with ham, or anything that says "chicken."

Pick up materials to help child who is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah. Help child organize these materials even though they all look exactly similar. Remind child to practice every day.

Get child to his math tutoring on time (we missed two sessions in a row due to blinding overwhelm). Don't forget to pick him up at the correct time.

Vacuum around the doors where the dog has dragged in sticks and mud. Vacuum everything that can be vacuumed. Resist vacuuming the dog's paws. Remind kids about chores.

Walk said dog so that she doesn't chew through the wall (again). Find Spackle. Find sanding paper; find the paint that matches the hallway.

Contact music teacher to schedule trumpet lessons for kid b, who's fallen off the lesson schedule since music teacher started coaching swimming and whose schedule no longer accommodates kids whose parents cannot work from home. Remind kid who hasn't practiced or thought about the trumpet due to blinding overwhelm about new lesson time.

Break down all boxes and recycle where dog can't eat them.

Make dinner.

Clean up.

Load dishwasher, unload, repeat.

Remind kids to do chores.

Prepare realistic consequences for kids who don't do chores.

Spackle, sand, and paint the walls where the dog chewed through again.

Vacuum upstairs.

Laundry. Remind kids to separate their laundry. Remind kids to put clean laundry away.

Call or check in on family. Watch for text updates for those who've recently had surgeries.

Remind DH to bring home _x_ on his way home from work.

Get on zoom a, b, or c that will invariably intersect with dinnertime or bedtime.

Forfeit zoom because kid a, b, or c needs immediate atte