As a mom during COVID-19, I am paralyzed with decisions this year. It's as if every decision is a life-or-death situation, because although we are 159 days into social distance quarantine, the end is still not yet within sight.
We have been so lucky that nobody in our immediate family has contracted the virus, and I think it is due to my stringent social distancing of our family. No parties, no gatherings, no carne asadas, no unnecessary outings anywhere. But as our country and our world begins to open up just a little bit... parents are facing some big and some little decisions. Should we return to work? To school? To church? To shop? Can we attend that baby shower or birthday party? What about soccer games? On the surface, each of these activities seem safe enough, if we can maintain six feet of social separation and proper personal protection equipment. But no matter how much we try to protect ourselves and our little ones, as soon as we step beyond the safety of our social distance bubble we have created, there is always the risk of infection, and this harsh reality weighs so heavy upon my shoulders and my heart.
Sofia's school has decided to begin the year with a hybrid schedule, but since she is considered a student with particular vulnerabilities, she has been invited to attend school four days a week. If I were able to stay home another year, my personal preference would be to homeschool all three kids, but since I must return to work, Sofia will be returning to school. Not because I need her to attend school for childcare (I'm still going to have to figure out childcare for the other two) but because it is her preference to return to "normalcy," be with her friends, and I can trust that at 9-years-old, she will follow all the protocols set in place by her school to remain as healthy as possible.
Now Maya is another story. Before COVID-19, we were so excited when she got a seat in the Spanish Immersion preschool in Framingham. It would be perfect because I could drop her off on my way to work, and she would be able to learn early literacy skills in Spanish. I knew she would thrive in preschool, and so even though it would mean an added expense and more hassle to my commute, we registered her. But as corona virus loomed as more and more of a threat to a "normal" school year, we began to contemplate the decision as to whether to send her to preschool or not. She is only three-years-old. Do I want masks and six feet separation to be her first experience of school? But I'm also concerned that while her English vocabulary is exploding, her Spanish language development has become stagnant. When we are spending so much time now in English-dominant environments, I want to make sure that she doesn't lose her strong Spanish skills she's developed over the past three years. So I made a pro's and con's list and debated what would really be best for my little girl... going back and forth in my head for weeks. And I know I'm just one of a million parents in a situation like this, trying to discern what is more important--our children's academic skills and socialization or their health???
Finally I decided it wasn't worth the risk. Expecting my rambunctious little girl to spend the entire day wearing a mask, not being able to interact with her new friends, or even share a pair of scissors or a box of crayons, sounds unrealistic. And since our family doesn't rely on preschool as a form of childcare, it's not worth exposing her unnecessarily. While I know these are all valid reasons that make a lot of sense given the current situation, I can't quite suppress my mom guilt over all that my precocious little girl will be missing out on by not attending preschool.
So no matter what, it feels like a lose-lose situation. But I'd rather we lose out on this year of school, then lose someone we love to corona virus.