September 21, 2020

Homeschooling Week 7: I’m Losing my Hair & maybe my Mind. 

In Arizona, we restarted homeschooling at the beginning of August.

This gave us two months of respite from last year’s abrupt advent into homeschooling.

I’ll start with the positive: my two kids are healthy, and none of us have contracted the virus to our knowledge.

In June, we relocated to a rustic desert home that feels like a refuge and is surprisingly cheaper than our previous cramped townhome. I’m not living with my mother yet, but instead, she comes to our house to bring groceries, clean, and watch the kids one day a week so that I can salvage some part of my private practice as an acupuncturist.

I have my writing, my personal salvation, and a way to connect with my tribe.

That’s the happy veneer, but here’s the underlying reality: I’m a single parent who has accepted the role of a homeschooling mom. I have children in different schools, with different curricula, and vastly different needs. I always feel like one of them is slipping through the cracks.

I spend endless hours in the kitchen every day and feel like a short-order cook and dishwasher on a shipwrecked island. I don’t even enjoy cooking anymore and my hands are cracked and bleeding from soapy water.

My daughter likes her eggs sunny-side up, and my son likes his scrambled. I am losing my appetite altogether and have low-grade nausea most days.

I have also noticed this month that I’m losing my hair. I collect it off the bathroom floor in clumps and throw it into the trash. Lastly, I’ve lost my attention span—I never finish projects that I start.

Not a day goes by without technology issues—this lifeline is also my archenemy. We each have our own computer devices, and I am starting to hate them all and crumple into a ball when they fail us. I don’t know how to remedy issues except to power them down and pray with sweaty hands that they reboot with restored majesty. We’re all being reprogramed in this paradigm shift, and I’m angry.

Our school district is parked in the middle of a county that has been badly affected by COVID-19. We just barely hit our “benchmarks” last week, and we plan on starting hybrid learning four weeks from now.

My kids’ varying schedules of going to school two days a week won’t even match up. There is no relief for me. My teacher friends tell me that if only one kid contracts the virus, the schools will shut down again for two weeks.

Acquaintances of mine who attend the county meetings say that we shouldn’t even be trying to go back to school this year—a bigger wave of the “normal flu” is projected to hit our area in October because of seasonal workers, snowbirds, and tourists. I feel like we’re all being strung along. I don’t even know if I want my kids to go back to school, and yet I need to work full-time.

I know that my family has it good. My cousin is a school principal at an elementary school. She told me about a single mom who’s living in a hotel room with her five children. The oldest child homeschools in a dark closet all day in order to have space from his younger siblings.

What I really hate about all of this is the division between us that just keeps getting wider in a heartless abyss. It’s the helplessness that we all feel, sitting in our respective dark closets.

One day a week, I take my daughter to volunteer at an animal shelter. We’ve been designated as “socializers” and play with the shy cats. Friendly cats have a higher chance of being adopted, and kittens need to be socialized with humans before they reach fives months; otherwise, they are untrusting and avoid contact.

It’s ironically rewarding to see some of the animals get “civilized” from week to week while the kids and I get more and more feral.



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