My Response to Anyone Outside of New York, Or Without Kids, Who Asks How I’m “Holding Up”
Many of you have been wondering how I, as a working mom to two school-aged children living in the epicenter of a pandemic am doing. I know that New York City is an especially horrifying place for a person to live right now — what with all the death, ambulance sirens, and mile-long Trader Joe’s lines. I respect your fear — and your decision to flee to your weekend and beach houses. I also respect my couch, and some of the other fine furniture we’ve acquired over the years. And to keep those things from being torn to shreds from the Lord of the Flies-like, sometimes feral, behavior that my boys begin to exhibit when kept indoors for too long, I take my children out into our Apocalyptic city streets about once a day. For sport, and to exercise my lung strength each time I scream, “Stay six feet away! Move!” when my kids veer too close to people on the sidewalk. Which is every three seconds.
Some of you have also complained to me about the virtual learning situation — and how you wish we could just do away with the whole darn thing, and teach our children “in our own special way.” Well. Happy. Mom. Of. The. Year. To. You. But here’s MY truth: When it comes to at-home learning, I don’t have a “special way.” I tried to do “Mom School” during Week 1 of Quarantine, and it just ended with tears (mine). And while it has been entertaining and mildly spite-inducing to watch your kids “learning from nature” via your Instagram feeds, I can’t say I relate. There are no endless beaches, or woodland areas, or lush backyards, from which to collect leaves so we can create a magical scrapbook of our time together — connecting, and “being still.” I would happily glue my children to a computer for 8 hours a day if it could save me from having to create an alphabet chart by hand (or anything by hand for that matter). Ditto for things that require scissors, “things from around the house,” or my supervision. I’ll pay the teachers extra.
Which is why I am just so happy I have kids who like iPads. I know some of you have kids who “just can’t stay engaged with screens, what a shame,” but let me tell you. I HAVE TRAINED MINE WELL. And it has taken years of hard work to do so, so let me relish in my accomplishment for just a few moments. If you are wondering how I’m getting any work done, there is no magical reason; no intricately laid out rainbow-colored chart. It’s the couple of hours my kids spend yelling at their friends (don’t worry, not your kids) while playing ROBLOX and Minecraft, or dress-up a cat or a rock or a turd apps that allow me to do anything that needs doing. Like drinking this martini I’m drinking right here, as I write.
“But aren’t you worried about all that screen time?” LOLOLOLOLOL. Guys. This is survival (see: Apocalypse, above.) For all I know, when this is over, there won’t be any fancy universities for me to have to worry about my kids competing their asses off to get into. But they WILL be experts on all things virtual (my oldest has even earned himself the role of “tech support” to his classroom, and I could not be more proud). And if I had to place bets, that’s probably where we’re headed in the future anyway, sad as that sounds.
Let’s talk for a moment about “Zoom Playdates.” Because a lot of you have been requesting, we do them, and I’m running out of excuses. I was hoping that a daily Zoom call with a classmate (or all of them at the same time) could buy me some alone time. That I could place my kid with an iPad (do you see a theme), and some of his favorite toys, and leave him be to his chatty self. But no! Since the kindergartener is apparently a complete ASSHOLE on virtual calls, my presence is required to referee. Usually, about four minutes in, he’ll ask the other kid on the “playdate,” “Hey, do you know when this is over?” As if the call was one of his scheduled ones, like with school. When I tell him it’s a playdate, he’ll ask, “So can it be over NOW?” The whole thing is disgustingly performative. The other mom is always there, listening, so anything I or my son say is being judged. And now, the whole world has a window into my private life — so if my husband is walking around in a towel because he didn’t know we were on a Zoom — oops! Other Mom just saw. I have to fucking PUT MAKEUP ON because I am “on television” during these things. I would like everyone to just picture me as they remember me best: Showered, without the horrible dye job I just attempted at home last Thursday, and wearing pants.
“So, are you and your husband doing OK?” Aw, thanks for asking. Well, yes. If by doing “O.K.,” you mean getting shitfaced every night on martinis and passing out during a Netflix show. We are doing GREAT. Hell no. We barely see each other during the day, even though we live in a loft-like apartment with one bathroom, and no doors. One of us is always feeling slighted for time NOT with our kids, so it feels like “time” is a mother we are constantly fighting to get attention from. “I had her first! NO! ME!” Picture us as crew members of a sinking ship. Every hour we are emptying water to stop the ship from going under. This is the Titanic, not The Love Boat.
Do you want to know if I’m keeping up with my fitness routine? This is something I get asked only by people without children. My sister keeps inviting me to online classes that we can do together at 6 pm — prime bedtime hour. Let’s just say; I hope that simply wearing yoga pants every day counts. The other day I hauled a dusty yoga mat out from a cabinet that required using a stepladder. I unrolled it and did one downward dog, and then my actual dog came to lay down on it. I call that progress.
And so, there you go. But let me not forget to tell you: I AM SO BLESSED. GRATEFUL BEYOND BELIEF. I know that after this turmoil, will be some great reward. Through stillness, we will find revelation. Through pain, will come some bounty. Did I tell you I have forsaken Judaism and become a Christian? JK! It’s all shit right now! Holding up just great. And by the way, was just thinking about you! Miss you! Love you SO MUCH!