Thursday, November 19, 2020

Moms of School-age Children: We Are Not OK.. But We Will Be

    As I prepared my 5-year old son for kindergarten earlier this year, I should have been excited about him entering a new stage of education and life.  It's bittersweet that he is going to "real" school and he will learn so much and grow up so much in one year.
Then, I think about everything, as moms and parents and grandparents that we have lingering over our minds when it comes to children going to school.  It's devastating to think about what my generation has witnessed happening to children. Sorry, millennial-haters.  This millennial-mom generation does not have it easy. 
    In my home state, Connecticut, an entire kindergarten class was killed during school in Sandy Hook which is generally a safe, beautiful place to live. When I was in elementary school, I remember doing fire drills and then going along my merry way straight to the playground.  It's sad that at 2 years old, my son was taught how to lock a door with a belt to protect the class from intruders.

It's also sad that my child may not be able to have lunch with his friends and has to constantly ask me, "Is the Virus gone yet?"

Every single decision we make, we know we have to think cautiously about the lives and well-being of our children and the health and safety of others.  We worry about their safety when we should feel at peace that they are safe in school.  We worry about our children's health from spreading viruses and about their mental health, which is increasingly rising among young children.  In fact, the current pre-teen/teen suicide has tripled since previous generations according to Psychology Today.  Studies show that the main stressors affecting children's mental health are triggered by events like school shootings, racial discrimination, and sexual assault.  I'm sure as we look back on 2020, we will see that medical pandemics have a huge effect on our children's mental health as well.

    With such easy access to any content, news, or media outlet it's almost impossible to keep children away from the news of these triggered events.
In addition, The New York Times reported that for smaller toddlers and babies, masks may be delaying their communication development since they cannot pick up on visual clues.  

“Masks are not a great thing for communication in young kids,” Dr. Lewkowicz said. On the other hand, he said, the time children spend at home with people who are not masked will give them a chance to practice picking up the visual cues.

As moms and caretakers in this generation, we are constantly hoping that we are making the best decision, calculating every risk factor whether it be physical health, mental well-being, and developmental progress.  As we continue to navigate these times, be respectful of each other's decisions and do not be quick to judge the kid without a mask (there may be a reason) or the Mom that never leaves the house.  Know that these decisions are never made lightly.

School shootings, viruses, addiction, mental health issues, and racial discrimination are all on my Mom-brain, however, it is important to not let our fears get too consuming.  Even if it's not in person, check on the people you love.  Help each other, be kind, and in the words of Danny Gokey: "Love God and Love People."

Ever After,