We're stronger together. So why are we tearing each other down on social media?
Well, here we are. Stuck in a spot nobody wants to be in.
And the longer time wears on, the tougher it gets. The silver linings are harder to find. The children we love are on our last nerve. I am almost positive that the next Greek yogurt container or half-empty glass of milk my husband leaves in our bedroom could unleash a rage from me unlike any the world has ever seen.
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Yet here many of us are, spending hours—days, weeks, months—fighting on Facebook. Lobbying thoughtfully and respectfully for your beliefs? I can always get behind that, even if I disagree with them. But what’s happening right now is not that. It’s something different. And it’s tearing us apart in a way I think a lot of people will eventually regret.
The reality is, COVID-19 has infected more than 6 million people and killed more than 190,000 of them in America alone. They are respected doctors and life-saving nurses. Famous actors and favorite teachers. Middle-aged mothers with lessons still to share and new fathers whose kids will never remember them. Children with little smiles and big dreams. It may be a fraction of our population, but one mother is 100 percent of the mother her child has. Isn’t one human life taken too soon one too many?
And COVID’s ripple effects are terrifying. Some of those who contract it suffer lingering effects that may never go away. Domestic violence has skyrocketed. The economy is crumbling. People are losing businesses and jobs and retirement savings and houses. On top of all that, the women’s movement has suffered a major blow, since many women are doing the bulk of the child care and homeschooling while still working full time, forcing them to make no-win decisions daily. (In my favorite statistic of the year, a Morning Consult survey of women showed that 80 percent said they help their kids with the bulk of the homeschooling or distance learning, while 3 percent said their husbands took the lead. In the same survey of men, 45 percent said they were the primary teachers, while only 39 percent said their wives took the lead. Guys, just because you covered 30 minutes of math while your wife was on a conference call doesn’t mean you handled the bulk of the homeschooling. It means you owe your wife flowers and a massage.)
In the middle of it all are our children—these little beings whose brains are at pivotal points, and whose social and emotional development needs are more than many of us can wholeheartedly offer right now. Whose bodies long for the soccer fields and football fields and volleyball courts. Whose minds, we fear, are turning to mush every time we send them to the Xbox while we hop on another Zoom meeting.
Right now, my 10-year-old is in school, in person, a couple days a week. And he’s playing travel soccer games around the city. But it’s not without a bit of hesitation and fear on my part. We’ve been cautious and careful from the beginning—early mask adopters, trip cancelers and the like. But are we taking unnecessary risks, however educated and thoughtful, by sending our son into school and onto the soccer field? I wonder that every day.
Despite what you might glean from social media, I don’t actually think that most parents are staunchly on one side of this issue or the other. Most, I think, are in the same place as my husband and I—standing in the middle of a horrifying mess, just trying to make the best decisions we can every day for our own family and our own situation.
If your kids are learning virtually all year and skipping sports or other extracurriculars, I get it, and I applaud it. If your kids are going to school and spending their weeknights practicing with their teams, I get it, and I applaud that, too.
To the school administrators, teachers, coaches, cooks, transportation specialists and so many more: Thank you. I know you didn’t get into this profession for the embarrassingly small paychecks, or because you wanted to spend your summer devising (and revising) plans that you knew would draw ire no matter where you landed. Thank you for caring enough to stick with our kids through an impossible situation.
To the employers who are getting creative and granting grace to your associates, particularly those who are parents of younger kids: Thank you. As a business owner, I recognize the sacrifice. I also believe that putting humans first is ultimately how we win at business and at life.
Nobody wants to be here, friends. But here we are.
So perhaps instead of judgment, try empathy. Perhaps instead of spending another hour crafting a Facebook post ranting about what the school district is doing wrong, make a second portion of your dinner to take to the single mom next door who could really use a hand. Perhaps instead of hate, choose love.
Because helping each other through this is the only way we make it to the other side. And if the other side isn’t a more understanding, compassionate, just place than it was when this started, the blame will not be on the pandemic. It will be on us.
Kristy Eckert is a Powell mom and founder of Kristy Eckert Communications.