Zoom. My life is revolving around Zoom. 7 simultaneous classes.
I’m both the IT guy and principal, while I try to keep an eye on my Waldorf preschool contingency. My husband’s work schedule is still running, so it’s me and the crew during work hours.
And when the Zooms are finally done for the day and the tablets are put to bed in their chargers, I have nightmares about Zoom. About meeting numbers and passwords. About cameras and mics being on when you think they’re off and that moments that don’t belong publicized are being recorded and broadcasted.
“The password is not working, I need you to come!!” calls a desperate voice from upstairs.
“Mommy, I need cotton balls for a craft NOW!” shouts another voice from somewhere else in the house.
“Snack time! What can I have?” yells a smiling second grader, bounding into the kitchen.
“It’s lunchtime!” announces my kindergartener.
My head is spinning. I’m still trying to clean up breakfast and keep the preschoolers busy.
I take a deep breath. I long for the days when I wasn’t principal, the BCE days (Before Corona Era). When my house didn’t double as the school building and my kitchen wasn’t the lunchroom.
It’s ironic; my two oldest were schooled in Shluchim Online School – a full blown virtual classroom. Only in the past few years were we blessed to have a Cheder open to suit our needs, in this corner of Northern California. My oldest already graduated and is (was) away in Yeshiva, (BCE) in 10th grade, and my daughter is graduating her Online School this year. I have been eagerly looking forward to closing up shop on schools on devices and retiring from being principal and IT and everything else that comes with it.
And here I am, back at square one, only more so. I know it’s temporary – that’s what I keep telling myself, and that’s what I must believe – but still so overwhelming! I agree with all the great words of wisdom from anonymous strangers on the internet about how great it is for our kids to have so much time with their parents and how much our BCE life compromised that. But that’s only half the picture. I also agree that kids leaving the house is extremely healthy for everyone. Not because I love my kids any more or less than anyone else; but because how can you miss them if they don’t ever leave?! And missing them is healthy! I’ve read that too!
When all the lunches are done and it seems everyone is back in class, I sneak into the backyard for a moment of quiet. I need some space! For me. Just to breath, nothing fancy. As I slip out the door, I bump into one of my headphone-wearing-tablet-carrying students/children. I choose to assume he was coming back from a class field trip and decide against asking him why he wasn’t in his classroom. Because technically he was holding his classroom, even if he wasn’t in his designated chair and desk. Whatever. I’m too tired to be principal. I just continue outside.
My phone has new alerts.
An urgent prayer request for a friend’s father who is fighting Covid-19. Another prayer request for a young father in critical condition who needs a miracle.
My heart pounds as I say a prayer and collapse into a chair outside. So many people I know, family, friends and relatives, have had Covid-19. And people I know have died.
And here I am complaining that it’s hard to be principal of Zoom meetings!? Especially when my house is big enough to accomodate all 7 classrooms and I even have a backyard – how dare I complain?!
And just like that, my emotions switch from overwhelmed to guilt. Guilt of complaining about such trivial things, when people are fighting for their lives. And then comes the sadness. Too many people have passed away from this disease; people from my east coast hometown. Families I know, who have been changed forever. The sadness is overwhelming. This madness has to stop!
And then I feel the fear. It’s paralyzing.
What is going to be?? When will this end, what awaits us?? Can it get worse? Will it get worse? I pray hard for the coming of Moshiach, when all illness will be gone.
I want my normal life back! I want just a few minutes of quiet everyday. Just a few! I want to go shopping without worrying about everything I see and touch. I don’t want worry to be my constant companion – the worry about the unknown.
I see a message on my family WhatsApp group; my uncle, who had been on a ventilator for 2 weeks, is breathing on his own and responding; nothing short of miraculous! I feel relief. I feel optimism. People will heal. We will survive this.
I mindlessly open Facebook, for no particular reason; a habit I would love to get rid of.
“Second wave coming; and it’ll be worse!”
“Possible hospital overcrowding! Our health system will collapse!”
“Covid-19 will peak in May!”
Anxiety is back, in full control. I can feel it in every bone in my body.
I need to get my control back here! The roller coaster of emotions is too quick – I need to be the driver of this train before it ends in a wreck.
I continue scrolling.
Drastic decrease in cases in my NY hometown – now that’s good news! Hundreds have recovered from the virus.
I feel my spirits lift; I feel hopeful. This will end. This is not the doomsayers’ long awaited apocalypse. There is none. G-d is still running this world. Hashem is watching us. He’s on top of it. Everything will be good.
The kids are calling me; passwords, WiFi, snack, supplies – I can’t quite make out the words.
And for a moment I focus and appreciate that all my children are under my roof; they’re all home. It’s noisy and hectic and messy and tiring, but they’re all home.
It’s exhausting – physically, mentally and emotionally.
The emotions change on a dime, from overwhelmed to anxious to sad to worry to scared … it’s an endless loop.
And I tell myself it’s ok to be overwhelmed with snacks and meals, even if that seems so petty.
Because nothing is normal now, and I can’t fight the new reality. I can only hope and pray that it all ends as quickly as it came.