ars longa, vita brevis
Parenting 7 days a week during mandatory quarantine is an occupation in itself. As a parent of four who’s a full-time student with a full time job this task feels almost unachievable. Considering the many challenges I have encountered in college, I somehow managed to maintain success in my educational career. As these unforeseen circumstances continue to take their toll on our community, I have learned more about the balance of time and effort that it takes to self-teach my children at home while also upholding my own status as an operative student of a university.
At this moment in time, the world is in a strange place. COVID-19, or coronavirus, has officially changed life as we know it. Large groups and face-to-face interaction are no longer permitted. As parents, we recognize that ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our children includes the responsibility of progressing their education. Since most parents put their child’s needs before their own, it is necessary that these circumstances call for a strong sense of self-awareness, self-discipline and self-sacrifice.
My family of six lives in a three bedroom apartment; four kids, my wife, and myself. I have been reduced to working two days a week at my job and my wife has been furloughed until further notice. Time at home has drastically increased and is of the essence. Here, every minute counts. Things that would’ve normally been done in the real world now has to take place in the uncomforting comfort of the home. One word of advice to stay on track would be to stick to a consistent schedule. My morning routine consists of waking up from 4:30 to 5am so I can get a head start on my own studies before anyone else wakes up. This is the only time of day that I feel like I am most effective as a student. Don’t get me wrong…I love my family more than anything in the world, but that is probably why they are my biggest distraction. One thing that I like to do is take my laptop outside and work from my front porch. Studying early in the morning when it’s still dark and working till the sun comes up is kind of a surreal feeling. Considering the solitary presence of a pandemic that is in the air, it feels as if I am the only one in the world that is awake.
Our classroom usually takes place in the living room. By this time, I’ve already found a stopping point in my own studies. Keep in mind, my studies never really end, they are just placed on pause until I am able to pick them up back again. Subject matters in our home range from Pre-K to 6th grade. This means that I could go from watching a read aloud of Pete the Cat to multiplying fractions in an instant. It’s been quite some time since I graduated high school. At that time, I had no concern for my own educational well-being. I struggle with simple Math because I was never really good at it in the first place. In addition to my own struggles with learning, “learning strategies” have changed completely from when I was a grade school student. It’s a constant battle of trying to show my children the way I learned versus the way they are currently learning. But, this is only the beginning of many demanding trials, the greatest challenge of all is trying to keep their attention away from what one another is doing. I attempt to separate them with space (as would be done in a normal classroom setting) but our apartment living room is just not big enough to create the necessary area to mitigate one classroom of four different grades. Self-teaching everyone at once is complicated because it is difficult to perceive our kids as students. I’ve come to the reality that the feeling is mutual; our kids really don’t take us seriously as teachers.
As a parent, I stress the importance and value that education can bring in my children’s lives. When this whole COVID-19 situation is behind us, the biggest takeaway that I would like my kids to have is that their parents cared enough to continue educating them when they needed it the most. Although this unexpected situation has forced us into unorthodox learning measures, we must not lose sight of what we set out to do in the first place. As a student myself, I will always make the effort to set the example for my family to strive for greatness for the sake of our own education. They have seen me struggle with it, and they have seen me succeed because of it, but one thing they will never see me do is giving up on it. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the coronavirus has affected our lives in ways that we never would have imagined, but we shouldn’t let it affect us to the point of hopelessness. Remember, you are not alone. Although everything that has happened to us in the last couple of months was completely out of our hands, we must know at this time that everyone is facing troubling circumstances, but it is how we overcome these unpredicted obstacles that defines our strength and resiliency as parents, teachers, and students.
We want YOUR help for our upcoming blog series: Summer Reading for Writers
Tell us all about your unconventional reading habits and how reading feeds your soul and challenges you to be a better writer. We want this series to be a place where writers can come together and exchange helpful tips that focus on personal growth, recommend great reads, and ultimately encourage one another in their writing journeys. Send us your non-fiction essays, book reviews, and lists (1000-1500 words).
We are inviting you to process your experience through art as we gather voices from all backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses, every sexuality and race, and to allow the freedom to share your voices and your truths. We hope that you enjoy the writings we have collected here. Moreso, we hope you feel moved to send us your own writing about persevering through the current times, or perhaps some of your own insights on the art of writing itself. Here at the Windward, we strive to be an open, affirming community, and as such we desire more than anything to hear from you.
--Natalie Williams and Celine Ramos, Senior Blog Editors