. Even though parenting little ones seemed difficult at the time, I have come to realize that was the easiest parenting stage for me. I was totally in my element when my kids were young. Sure, it seemed like my kids gave me a run for my money, but looking back, I feel fairly confident I made some pretty good decisions back then.
Now that my boys are older, every single parenting decision is hard. I was feeling this before I had ever heard about CoVID-19, but throw in a pandemic and I question literally everything that I let my kids do.
They start having opinions
When you have toddlers, you don’t really put too much thought into whether or not you should listen to their opinions (my youngest once went through a phase that lasted entirely too long where he strongly desired me to crash into other cars when I was driving). However, now their opinions are actually well thought out. Don’t get me wrong, they are often pretty misinformed or influenced by peer pressure, but they have to be considered.
In our school district, parents could choose between fully in-person or fully online school. After conversations weighing the pros and cons with both of my boys and all affected parties, we decided they would go to school in-person. It seemed like the right choice for our family, and the district had good mitigation strategies in place.
However, what the district can not predict, is what the students will do outside of school that will have an impact on the school’s attendance numbers and the ability to carry on in-person school.
For example, my high-school son went out for football again this year. His team didn’t always wear masks on the field and could not socially distance. This didn’t seem too bad until parents started allowing their teenagers to go to parties again. We all, myself included, became a little too complacent living in this pandemic. It didn’t seem to affect me or my family. Until it did.
When CoVID hits a little too close to home
I got a message that the big Friday night playoff game was canceled and the season was over. I called my son and he confirmed that he had been in close contact with some of the students who were out ill at school that day, and most likely had CoVID. My kids then both went to their dad’s for his parenting time.
Over the weekend, my son started having symptoms related to CoVID, so he had to be tested.
Long story short, my boys were negative, but their dad was positive.
After my oldest tested negative, but before we knew their dad was positive, my son wanted to go to a game night with friends. My gut told me no. Science said no. He should still be in quarantine from the football exposure, but my heart really wanted my son to have some social time. I also felt the pressure of not wanting to let my teenager down and be the “lame mom.”
After arguing back and forth with my teen, and generally feeling like an over-protective CoVID-psycho, I put my foot down. I told him he would have to join his friends virtually. I know, total lame-mom move. But when we found out that his dad tested positive the very next day, I sighed a huge sigh of relief knowing that I did, in fact, make the right decision.
I know this isolation is tough on everyone, and the studies are showing that teens are struggling perhaps more than the rest of us. Which makes making parenting decisions even harder than ever before.
Differences in opinions
Quarantining is so tough. I feel like it’s even more difficult now because we’ve been doing it for close to a year. It’s also difficult because people have different opinions about what is safe and how bad the virus is.
I want to make sure my preteen and teenager’s mental health is being attended to, but I also want to keep others safe. It feels like a real mind game, trying to figure out the “right” thing to do as a parent. I won’t go into details, but for parents who have to co-parent or parallel-parent, this adds a whole other layer of difficulty.
For now, I am going to make the choice to keep our circle small. We attend events virtually and make sure we wear masks and socially distance when we are out. (I do NOT want to get put back in quarantine again!) These decisions cannot be made out of guilt. Instead, I need to go with my gut and put my desire to be the “cool mom” aside. And I have to be okay with that.