What Kind of Mom Will I Be Today?


While emptying the dishwasher this morning I began planning the daily juggle of distance learning, work, and household chores. I began wondering… what kind of parent am I going to be today? 

Morning Me is always optimistic. She is ready to be Mary Poppins: nurturing but firm and ready to inject fun and whimsy into any given activity. She’s organized, but not in an annoying Pinterest-perfect way. 

This lasts anywhere from 5-60 minutes. Max. 

In the blink of an eye I find myself feeding my 10-year-old strawberries while he lays in his bed during a morning meeting, for which he almost overslept. And then I think to myself- what is going on? Here I am trying to be nice and repent for the not-so-Mary-Poppins conversation we had yesterday and he’s not even aware. Our tense words of yesterday are forgotten as he relaxes, while being spoon fed during his morning Zoom. I know, however, that one question about his writing assignment will immediately hurl us back to the standoff of yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. 

It’s amazing how quickly I can switch from nice to sarcastic to supportive to bitter. If there were awards for this kind of stuff, I’d be a strong contender. Here are some of my most common roles of late:

The Servant

This parent helps fix the printer, delivers nutritious snacks to the distance learners, and clears their plates if the workspaces seem messy. She emails teachers the worksheets her younger children need to hand in and rearranges parts of her day to accommodate their educational needs. 

The Organizer

Post-it notes and laminated papers abound in this parent’s arsenal. To-do lists and Google calendar reminders help this parent get through her day. Weekly meal-planned and shopped for? Check. There is nothing that can’t get done — as long as it’s on the list!

The Multitasker

This parent is attending her own Zoom meeting while trying to correct the ordered decimals assignment while wondering why the word “hundredths” is so difficult to pronounce. She is taking her meetings on the floor of the bathroom with a sign on it that says “Do Not Disturb” while trying to ignore texts from her children during her meetings. She fantasizes about using the desk her daughter is using. 

The Enforcer

“You had your chance!” is this parent’s motto. A teacher, this parent is not. She tried to calmly and supportively help her child brainstorm ideas for his one-paragraph-long writing assignment, but she’s over it now. Talk about this. And this. And this. AND HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO GO OVER THAT THE FIRST WORD OF A SENTENCE IS CAPITALIZED?!?!?!

As one of my girlfriends put it: “I can’t talk to anyone who isn’t struggling with distance learning right now.” This sums it up for me. Every time a friend tells me how bored their child is because it is so easy for them a little part of me dies inside. I have also been dreaming of relocating to a state that has hybrid learning. I agree with the state’s remote learning decision but I can’t help but seethe with jealousy as my friends in other states send their kids to school and pick them up from after care. I have heard about families moving to Florida to participate in football and that seemed not only inequitable but just downright silly. But, then I got to fantasizing about moving to a state where my kids could attend school in person a few days per week and it was easy to see the lure…

Since a move is not happening I guess I just need to surrender. We are getting used to this. Again. And it’s getting better. A little bit. It’s time to use the coping skills I’ve worked hard on, continue to do the best I can, and lean on my people.

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Nancy Casey is a family nurse practitioner and owner of Teen Health PDX in NE Portland. She specializes in the health of tweens, teens and young adults. She is passionate about talking to teens and their parents about the stuff no one feels comfortable talking about. She has three tweens and teens of her own that keep her on her toes and make her practice what she preaches every day. Because of this she eats more ice cream than she probably should and snuggles her dog more than he would probably like. She moved to Portland from Chicago 7 years ago and is still amazed at how many hills and mountains there are.