Okay, I’ll say it. Pandemic parenting is kicking my ass.

We’re starting to pass those milestones. It’s been a year since covid stories began popping up. A year since we watched Italy completely lock down and I wondered how far behind them we’d be. A year since they declared a global pandemic and the first North Carolina stay at home order was issued.

I look back on March 2020 with almost quaint amusement. The order’s coming down soon, who knows how people will react. Have you filled up with gas? And stocked up on groceries? We should pull some money out of the ATM, too, just to be on the safe side. Lord, we were preparing for the apocalypse…and I guess we weren’t far off. Except for that run on the banks thing. Should have been more concerned about a run on Clorox wipes and toilet paper.

So it’s basically been 365 days since my world tilted on its axis. There’s been a serious learning curve.

Over the months I’ve been accused of being paranoid, totally unreasonable, doing what I have to do (begrudgingly admitted), mean, impractical, enjoying the fact that they’re stuck at home, and Ruining Their Lives. Just to heighten the fun factor there’s no telling which version I’ll get from day to day so it’s like a Where’s Waldo of surprises each morning.

Pandemic school is no joke. Every parent I know is struggling with appropriate expectations – we can’t be all whatever, it’s fine, everyone’s stressed to the gills and it’s impossible to learn like this but we also can’t go hardline with we expect you to keep those grades up, kiddo, covid or no covid. There are kids who’ve lost people to the pandemic or are living with the stress of its risk to their parents or grandparents. Households struggle to juggle multiple kids live-streaming classes while parents oversee lessons and find ways to make their own jobs fit into the mold. Add in the fact that most social and athletic outlets have been reduced or eliminated to varying degrees over the last year and you’ve got a recipe for stressed out kiddos.

Stir crazy on top of couch potato, tackling new projects alternating with crippling laziness. It’s been a year of dichotomy. They say we’re heading into the final stretch which, loosely translated, means accessible vaccines for American adults but I lean toward being a realist. I know not everyone will get the vaccine. I also know we won’t return to anything resembling an open global community while there are countries struggling to immunize their own citizens. I’m trying to hold onto optimism, the hope that we’re slowly inching our way toward more freedom. I’m trying.