I'm reading
A letter to parents in isolation
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
A letter to parents in isolation
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
A letter to parents in isolation
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
30 April 2020

A letter to parents in isolation

Lockdown has revealed the many polarities of being human. All of it is valid.

Written by Jess de Campo

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Dear parents in isolation,

First, hi. Wow. How are you? How has this time been for you?

To glance at my social media feed, there seems to be two main stories of parents looking after children during this pandemic.

The first is kids running free on the beach, crafting with rainbow rice (when it stays in its colour, not when it gets spread wildly across the floor), making Ostro oat chocolate cookies with sticky helping hands. Talk of slowing down, appreciating time, the hope that flexible work will continue beyond Covid. Escaping the daily rush for readers and socks. Building blanket cubbies, collage rainbows, deep connection. This as a time of renewal, reset, hope.

The second is of kids watching TV show after TV show. Parents reaching for the third pot of coffee. Houses resembling tips, kids climbing the walls. The shouting, the pressure. Parents with new babies and toddler, isolated from grandparents, childcare, community. Cooped up, juggling. The hazard tape circling playgrounds. The endless requests. As writer Courtney Martin puts it: “I am angry that the days lasts for 40 hours and the moment after my kids go to bed seems to last for five minutes. I cannot be the 10 people I want to be in those five minutes.”

My sense is that not just one, but both of these stories are true. Most of us have experienced the silver linings of this time. We may not have made sourdough bread, but we have seen new sides to our children, to ourselves. We have experienced patches of true resilience, beauty. We have seen some of the darker sides of ourselves or our lives in stark relief, which perhaps in time become things we learn from. We have brightened after texts from a kind neighbour, we have checked in more with beloved friends. We miss and value those who typically help keeps our family afloat: teachers, carers, neighbours, extended family. The reality of caring and family has become present in our work, our Zoom calls, our conversations with colleagues.

And yet, the darkness is real. The relentlessness, the sadness, all the things that haven’t happened, the textas everywhere, the inability to have a moment to concentrate, think, be separate. There is grief and beauty.

We all lose in thinking my isolation is better than your isolation. We all benefit from kindness, solidarity, honesty, a new shared empathy.

Fleeting moments. Joy and struggle. Grief and beauty.

A metaphor for parenting in general, really.

With love, caffeine and respect,

Jess

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