Why Today Was One Of The Hardest Days Of My Life

 I had been looking forward to my children going back to school since March 13th, which is the day we were informed school's would be closed due to the pandemic. I had been craving that silence, that routine, that moment where the kids would come home and tell me all about the awesome things they did at school (or in Ethan's case, how long the day is and how he would rather stay home playing video games). Every single day after March 13th, I would stare at my home waiting for the email from the Superintendent telling us that school was reopening, and that we could go back to normal. 

The email never came, and normal wasn't "normal" anymore. Both kids would sit in front of computers and see their friends and teachers. While Lily would love it (albeit not really pay much attention), Ethan struggled. He is shy, and doesn't care to show his face on the screen. Adjusting to virtual learning took a lot of time, but we were blessed with a teacher who was so incredibly dedicated to making sure Ethan got the extra support and time he needed in order to thrive. 

The months passed, and as new challenges affected our household, I kept on praying and hoping school would open, or that the pandemic would ease up and our children would be able to socialize again. I kept going to bed wishing I could have just a minute of silence, of certainty, even just the ability to go to the supermarket on my own. 

The day never came. The children didn't go back to school. We had to say good bye to teachers and friends through a screen, cancel camp plans, and I was forced to face the reality that the kids and I would be spending our summer inside, figuring out a new normal. I am glad to say that we survived, and aside from some changes in our home dynamics, we were able to adjust to new routines, new activities, and even some new friends. Ethan got to play baseball and Lily got to go to camp at her Nursery School. The kids learned to wear their masks like champs, Lily dropped the diapers, and Ethan started sleeping in his own bed at night even lost two teeth in one weekend! and me? like every other parent, I survived.

As the school year drew near, we had to go to a bunch of zoom meetings to explain the health and safety procedures that the school would implement to prevent the spread of the virus. We had to start getting used to the idea that our children would have to sit in desks surrounded by plexiglass and wear masks all day, and most importantly, we had to get used to the idea that our children may not be able to stay in school for the entire school year, since the uncertainty of the virus still exists.

Then, today happened. Last night, as I was putting Ethan to bed, he mentioned how scared he was about not knowing anyone in his class... he wasn't nervous about masks, or temperature checks, or germs, but whether or not he would make friends. I assured him that he would make friends in no time, and that it would be a great year. I started thinking then about all of the children going to bed tonight, blissfully unaware of how different the year would be and of all the dangers that still loomed over our heads. 

As I dropped Ethan off at school, I felt the tears creep up. They weren't just tears of joy and pride about my baby growing up and thriving through one heck of a summer; they were tears from fear. While I trust the school, I can't help but feel like I am sending my child into a completely uncertain world that I cannot protect him from, while knowing that the alternative of him staying home was not something that would work for us, especially for him. 

I am so beyond grateful of all of the teachers and staff who are putting themselves at risk and who have spent countless hours making sure that the our children only worry about whether or not they will make friends and not about the virus. Their dedication to their work as educators is humbling. They are heroes who are now taking their place on the front lines not only to make sure that our children thrive, but that they have a chance to experience the "normal" world that was ripped away from them on March 13th.

From the very bottom of my heart, thank you to all of the teachers, administrators, health, safety, and custodial staff who have worked tirelessly to open our school doors and giving our children their worlds back. You are heroes.

And to all the parents like me who are currently sitting at home counting the minutes until their child comes home, we've got this. We survived the storm so far, let's keep going.


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