The parents are not OK.

I’m writing this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, working from home full time with my kids, ages 2 and 4, climbing all over me as day care is closed for the holiday. Going into calendar year 3 of the pandemic, this setup is now more norm than exception.

The parents are not OK.

I love our day care. We struck gold in finding one as great as ours. But even they are not immune to COVID quarantines and closures. Three times this fall, our kids were home for 10 days at a time because of a COVID-positive case at day care. And this is only counting COVID closures. When once parents could keep their sick kid home and send the rest to day care, one sick kid now means they all have to quarantine at home. I’m on board with the public health reasons behind this. I have my COVID vaccine and booster shots and still mask in public. My wife and I work in health care, so you don’t need to convince us to take the right precautions. All I’m saying is that what was already a difficult job with limited support – parenting and working full time – is now even harder.

And the parents are not OK.

I’m 39 years old. The last time inflation was this high was the year I was born. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our cost of food has tripled – and that includes me growing a lot of ours. We just paid over $900 for oil. Day care for two children, at a reduced fee for two of them being enrolled, is $402 a week. Mortgage, car payments and the financially crippling impact of student loans – I can’t see how any of this is sustainable.

Advertisement

The parents are not OK.

Especially those of us with chronic illness. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 6, in 1988. Insulin, insulin pump supplies, test strips and medications for the complications that come with having this disease for so long. Throw in a type of autism that was once called Asperger’s, along with parenting during the pandemic and working to keep our kids housed and clothed, and our burnout has burnout.

The parents are not OK.

And my wife and I are extremely lucky. We have two incomes and good jobs. I may not be able to get food until payday sometimes, but our fridge and cupboards are never bare – they just don’t always have exactly what my kids want at the moment. We pay our bills, though we’ve had to take out personal loans at times to make ends meet. We have a home and a safe place for our children. They are loved and well cared for. Having grandparents from the Great Depression generation, my wife and I know how much worse it could be.

But we’re so, so tired. Tired of worrying that our kids, who are too young to be vaccinated, are getting the social experiences they need without putting their health at risk. Tired of navigating health insurance for us and our kids through a ridiculous system of hoops, when our cousins abroad just go get medical attention when they need it without fearing it will mean financial ruin. We’re tired of working, parenting and teaching all at the same time at home, holding a crying baby on a Zoom meeting, while a preschooler yells “I’m peeing!” in a work world that still expects parents and all employees to work as if they don’t have personal lives. And my current boss is fantastic about me parenting while working from home. I can’t say that for all previous bosses. And, hey, at least I don’t have to take a pay cut when I’m home with my kids because of COVID or an illness or a holiday. Many do, and I don’t know how they’re making it.

The parents are not OK. And my family is one of the very, very lucky ones.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.