Too Many Hats, Not Enough Fucks

Virtual school. Two words that have become the most hated in my vernacular. Virtual. School. The words themselves roll off the tongue with a simplicity that smacks you in the face with an irony born out of just how damned difficult the experience can be. It's hard for the kids and it's hard for the me. I should say that it's hard for the teachers, but I'm not feeling much benevolence towards them at the moment. 

Conducting school at home has been one of the most challenging hurdles I've faced as a parent. Navigating this nightmare of an educational swamp is made all the more difficult by my empathetic nature. Simply put, I hate seeing my kids experience discomfort of any kind. These days they've transcended discomfort and entered entered the realm of misery, which they occupy for 7 hours each weekday. My once-carefree children are now burdened by the weight of a school experience that carries responsibility without the benefits of socialization, accomplishment, or community. School used to be a place where they belonged and were showered with positive reinforcement. Now, school is a fog that hangs low in our home, clinging to the boys before their days start and long after they log off in the afternoon. 

Like in any fog, we constantly feel disoriented. Despite our best efforts, we are unable to establish a clear path forward and so we remain mired and lost. As a person in general, I find the lack of a routine and daily milestones frustrating. As a parent, I find it to be nothing short of maddening. There is no morning rush, no drop-off at school, no commute to work. There is no longer a clear lunch break, nor end of the day. Try as I might to create demarcations in our schedule, the pandemic that rages ever on obscures them into ambiguity. 

Our regimen isn't the only aspect of life that seems to blur with each passing day, either. I struggle with the roles I am now forced to play in my children's lives. I am their mother, yes...but now I must wear the hat of teacher and task master. These authoritarian roles do not come naturally to me and seem to be in direct conflict with having to also fill the void left by not seeing their friends. One one hand I am to be their boss and yet on the other engage with them socially, like a companion. I am supposed to teach these children to be independent and yet coddle them through a situation that is mind-fucking all of humanity. Parenthood is, in general, being in a constant state of not ever really being sure what you're doing, but we are on some next-level bullshit right now. I never know when to be heavy handed and reinforce the need to be responsible versus when to back off and give them mental health breaks. I have so many hats to wear but not a shred of sense of when the appropriate time is to wear each one.

More and more I feel like tossing away the hats that don't suit me, haha. I just want to throw them aside and wear only those that are easy or make me feel the least bit uncomfortable. I would keep the fun ones and gleefully burn the business attire. I loathe, with every shred of my being, having to force these kids to log in each day, and keeping track of their assignments, and monitoring their grades, and reading the endless stream of emails from teachers that seem completely out of touch with what parents are dealing with. I get no less than 7 or 8 emails every day from teachers and while some part of me sees what they are trying to accomplish, each email chips away at my capacity to give a shit about what the emails actually say. One of my biggest and longest standing personal flaws is indignantly shedding fucks the more I'm reminded that I need to give them. 

Starting a new year with no fucks is an alarming novelty, lol. For me, January usually brings with it a surge of optimism and a fresh reservoir of new fucks to give. So far the inaugural month of 2021 is truly feeling like the 13th month of 2020. There has been no real change in our regularly scheduled pandemic programming and I think that is probably the hardest pill to swallow. What was supposed to be a new beginning is certainly seeming more like "same shit, different year." I'm realizing as I purge these thoughts that I am so very tired. I think that we all are. A fatigue has blanketed our very souls and the longer we are forced into these boxes of pandemic-induced roles, the more exhausted we will all become. 

Wearing these masks, literal and figurative, is hopefully something that we can stop in the months to come. I'm not supposed to be a teacher, I'm simply masquerading as one for as long as I need to. I will make mistakes, but to be human is to be fallible. Perhaps that the best lesson I can teach my children while I have them so close: that you don't have to be perfect nor even strive to be. If I can normalize imperfection for them, I can maybe be more content with my own. So maybe instead of burning those business hats, I'll try to hang them on that. 


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