Diary of a Parent: Teresa Pearl

Diary ofa Parent: Teresa Pearl
Photos provided

Welcome to a day in the life of a mom of three, wife, special education teacher, cook, maid, shopper, friend and counselor. Have I lost you yet?

Let’s get this day started

Wake Up: Our family’s morning routine went out the window when the quarantine began. We switched from up at 6:30/7 a.m. and out of the house by 8 a.m. for work and school to lounging in bed until around 8 a.m. Even the baby has gotten the memo and will happily play in his crib until we get him around 8:30 a.m.

Most mornings, I jet out the door for a quick run before the day really gets started. Fun fact: I actually HATE running and I didn’t run before this started but now I need it. I need to move, I need to accomplish something without an interruption, and I need to sweat and be alone with my own thoughts. Once I return and shower, the day really gets going.

A typically meal at Café La Pearl consist of frozen waffles topped with peanut butter, OJ and gummy vitamins, and today is no exception.

I peel the big kids off the couch where they have been zoned out in front of the TV for an hour or so, and I bribe them to get dressed with the promise of sugar-filled breakfast treats (or threats depending on the day). I simultaneously yell upstairs to keep the big kids moving, relieve my husband of baby duty and prepare breakfast. A typically meal at Café La Pearl consist of frozen waffles topped with peanut butter, OJ and gummy vitamins, and today is no exception.

Diary of a Parent: Teresa Pearl

I ply the baby with food until he screams to get out of his chair while I sign my kindergartener onto his live online session with his teacher and check my work email. My kindergartener has accidently closed out of his online class and I have to stop writing an email to get him logged back in.

The baby is no longer tolerating the confinement of his highchair and yells “ALL DONE!!” at the top of his lungs until I stop making my coffee and go over to him. His hands are covered in peanut butter and now so is my clean shirt. I make a mental note to wipe it.

Clocked in

My third grader needs help with her math assignment so I walk away from my computer to assist her. The lesson is on elapsed time and she doesn’t have a clock to help her so I send her up to the office (where my husband is working from home) to grab supplies to make one quickly. Once I make the clock and show her how to do the problem, I turn around to see my too-quiet baby chewing on my laptop charger. I pick the baby up as my kindergartener’s class is wrapping up. The baby copies his big brother and waves and yells “Byeeeee!”

I send my 5-year-old to the backyard for a break. Just as a take a sip of cold coffee, I smell that the baby has pooped. It’s Dad’s turn to deal with it, so I send him to the office with his special package. I heat up my coffee and attempt to check my email AGAIN. I get in a solid 15 minutes of work and half of my coffee consumed before my daughter is crying over her next assignment. We work on it together as the baby brings me fake food from his kitchen which makes us both smile.

We are interrupted by my kindergartener asking for food (again). Before I repeat my daily mantra “It’s OK to feel a little hungry we are going to wait for lunch,” I glance up at the clock on the stove. Crap, it’s 11:30 already. I have several telehealth parent calls with my students starting at noon.

Diary of a Parent: Teresa Pearl

I throw together a lunch for the kids consisting of peanut butter sandwiches, oranges and goldfish. My kindergartener’s excited expression turns to a frown as he discovers that the sandwich is peanut butter not Nutella. I mutter “get over it, kid” as I return to my laptop and log in for what seems like the 100th time today.

Working it out

I check my afternoon schedule, send text reminders and links to virtual meets to families, read my emails and read my notes from last week’s telehealth sessions. It’s almost noon and I look at my disaster of a kitchen, start yelling at the kids and cleaning like crazy. I get everything semi-wiped down and put away, but only as the clock strikes noon. I rush upstairs to hand the baby off to my husband so he can prep him for his nap and put in my ear buds.  These are a signal to my big kids to LEAVE ME ALONE.

My student’s family isn’t quite ready for our session, so I take this time to take a deep breath and reheat my coffee. In this brief moment of quiet, I hear my husband singing a song that my late father-in-law taught my baby and my heart bursts a little. This sweet moment is interrupted by the big kids fighting over the remote. Part of me considers taking the TV away, but I need them to zone out so I can get through my appointments.

I want to be back in my classroom. I want hold my students. I want to hug their parents when they need support.

My student’s family text that they’re ready to start. As I finish with my virtual session, I am feeling somewhere between extremely grateful and heartbroken. Grateful for my employment and for virtually being able to connect with my families, but heartbroken for their circumstances. I want to be back in my classroom. I want hold my students. I want to hug their parents when they need support. I want to help provide the routine and consistency we are all craving, but FaceTime and GoogleMeet will have to do for now.

Diary of a Parent: Teresa Pearl

I continue to ignore my big kids as I take a few more calls and complete the corresponding paperwork. My baby cries out from his crib and I glance up at the clock. How isit almost 3 o’clock and what the heck are we going to have for dinner? I call the big kids away from their screens back to the kitchen to address all of the incomplete things on their daily list. They complain and slam things as I look through the fridge and sigh in relief. I have forgotten about the chicken I set aside to marinade—BOOM, dinner!

High chairs and high fives

I grab the baby and change his diaper as I whisper his favorite song in an attempt not to interrupt the conference call I can hear my husband on in the other room. I use the highchair containment method of childcare for the baby again as I prep dinner, help my big kids finish their assignments and take a quick work call from a service coordinator.

Once I wrap up my call, I send all of the kids outside to the backyard and survey the situation. Everything feels half done. I have more work things to do, my big kids have not submitted all their assignments, dinner isn’t ready, I have unanswered texts from friends and family on my phone and I AM EXHAUSTED.

I cannot do more than I’m already doing, it’s impossible.

Instead of cleaning up my disaster of a house, I zone out on social media. The memes and videos make me smile. The constant suggestions of things I can do with my kids makes me want to punch someone. I cannot do more than I’m already doing, it’s impossible.

Diary of a Parent: Teresa Pearl

The rest of the day is spent breaking up sibling fights, trying to convince my kids to eat the dinner we’ve prepared, wresting the kids into the bath tub, and going through the motions of each of their bedtime routines.

My husband and I high-five in the hallway as we pass. We are so close to the finish line. We end most nights on the couching watching TV with a glass of wine (or two). I try to keep my eyes open until 10 p.m. when I crawl into bed.

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About Teresa Pearl

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