For the past few weeks, I have written about teachers being heroes in this pandemic along with other front-line workers. In one of my tributes, I enumerated the many tasks a teacher performs in any given hour, and how this new reality of COVID-19 has challenged them to pivot, adapt, and innovate. By the responses of our parents and around the world, I know most whole-heartedly agree.
There is another group of heroes, however rarely mentioned, who also multi-task and make endless quick decisions in any given hour, serving as short-order cooks, gourmet chefs, tutors, teachers, teachers’ aides, coaches, negotiators, mediators, problem-solvers, entertainers, therapists…and the list goes on.
Yes, I am writing about you, our parents. The amount of stress that you are experiencing cannot be understated as you negotiate the needs and demands of children, spouses, partners, single parenthood, work, household responsibilities, and balancing financial concerns especially if you find yourselves unemployed or with reduced compensation. It is a lot to handle even if you have been spared the more significant crisis that others may be facing during this pandemic.
I am in awe of the countless parents at SSDS and across the country who courageously persevere to keep our families whole and our children emotionally secure.
There is a tradition that Pesah and Shavuot are uniquely connected holidays and unless you celebrate Shavuot, you really haven’t fulfilled the celebration of Pesah. With that in mind, I am going to borrow the Pesah theme of Dayenu, It Would’ve Been Enough.
If parents make sure their children stay home and safe but do not play with them – Dayenu.
If parents play with their children but do not read to them – Dayenu.
If parents read to their children but do not have a regular bedtime routine – Dayenu.
If parents have a bedtime routine but only make mac and cheese for dinner – Dayenu.
If parents make mac and cheese (and more) for dinner but do not ensure they attend live Zoom class – Dayenu.
If parents ensure their children go to Zoom class but do not stay on top of them to do all of their work – Dayenu.
If parents make sure the children do all their work but do not insist on baths, Dayenu.
And on and on and on.
Parents are doing so much, and more, during this time that it must be said over and over again, as our School Psychologist Dr. Ilana Kustanowitz tells us, it is preferable to be a “good-enough” parent during this pandemic, and essentially always. There is no such thing as perfection and we should never expect it of ourselves as parents. In fact, it is healthier for parents and children to be real about our imperfections and limitations. It does not diminish our love, devotion, concern or deep joy we feel for our children – and we know that! If anything, it makes the relationship more authentic and meaningful.
I hope each of us stop for a moment to reflect and appreciate all that we are balancing at this time. You, parents, are truly heroes! And, you are human. Please be sure to take care of yourselves too.
Look for blessings in the midst of this pandemic. It is a blessing to be able to have meals together; read books together, take walks together, play games together, and share some quiet time together. Holding the family together and loving your children may fundamentally change how we allocate our time when this passes. I hope each of us, and society, hold on to the beauty and abundance of time we spend together as families.
Thank you for all you continue to do for your families and children, and on top of that, for the time and effort you make to partner with our school, and to appreciate our teachers and our Kehillah.