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Pandemic Parenting is Hard: That Time When I Almost Lost It

Before the pandemic, my parenting style could be best described as, held together with Scotch tape, caffeine, and just the right amount of magic. Juggling a full-time job, a marriage, and the social lives of two teens who couldn’t yet drive meant that I was caught with my pants down most days. All while wearing a “How did I miss that?” look on my face at all times.

And those were the good days.

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Recently, Facebook memories reminded me of the time I had an important meeting out of town on the same day my son had a mandatory theater meeting. And, as luck would have it, my husband was also out of town. After conducting more logistics than an Army exercise, I managed to figure out how to get him where he needed to be only to realized that I’d completely left my daughter and her dinner needs out of the equation.

I made it to my meeting, my son was on time to his meeting thanks to a good friend, and my daughter ate Halloween candy for dinner. Was it my finest parenting moment? Nope. Did we survive? Of course we did.

Enter the pandemic and the subsequent never-ending quarantine.

I was suddenly parenting with a shortage of Scotch tape—and toilet paper.

My Halloween candy dinners made me look like Mother of the Year compared to what I was dishing out when we quarantined:

  • We tackled online learning. Barely.
  • We tolerated teens who suddenly seemed to be awake 24/7.
  • A friend and I thwarted what we realized was a minor cheating situation with our boys and their friends.
  • I did puzzles, I baked bread, and I made it to the “Netflix is over. You’ve watched everything” screen. (Not really, but close).

I gave myself a pat on the back for somehow managing my new pandemic life without a major schooling snafu. Until three days before my teens were headed back to school for hybrid learning and my son announced he was enrolled in community college.

That’s right.

Community college. As in, a college course that appeared on his high school schedule, as if by magic.

“Welp, I guess I’m going to my first day of college a year early,” he announced as he towered over me and my shocked expression.

The kicker was the college, like his mother, had no idea my son was enrolled because he had failed to inform anyone that he’d done the paperwork on the high school end. Both the admission paperwork and tuition bill on the college side had not been completed because he’d forgotten about it during six months of quarantine.

Of course, there were no more spaces available in his high school English class. And the deadline to apply for his college class? Yeah, it was the next day.

As he looked at me expectantly, waiting for me to help him figure out a solution, I felt something in me snap.

It was all too much and I had reached the end of my pandemic rope.

As my son looked on quizzically, I just started to laugh hysterically.

I mean, what else can you do when you realize your kid has one day to figure out how to secure a class he needs for graduation in the middle of a global pandemic? It was all so on brand for 2020.

When my fit of laughter subsided, I calmly told him that since he was now a “college kid,” he’d have to march himself over to the college admissions office to figure it all out. I sent him armed with his signed paperwork, a blank check, and a good luck wave, much to his bewilderment.

In that moment, I let myself off the hook for dropping a huge parenting ball. Should I have looked more closely at his schedule? Probably. Did I manage to keep our family safe and healthy during the most stressful time in our lives? Definitely.

Perspective, amiright?

And you know what? My son figured it out without me having to completely upend what was left of my sanity.

Did it take multiple texts and one very real “Come to Jesus” moment with him over the phone to make it happen? Yes, yes it did.

So, parents, you are (probably) doing just fine.

I mean, if you didn’t find out today that your kid was heading to college while you obliviously baked bread and watched shows about exotic tiger owners, you are definitely killing it in my book.

Christine Burke started the popular parenting blog, Keeper of The Fruit Loops six years ago on a whim. Since then, her work has been featured on the Today Show, Scary Mommy, Grown and Flown and other parenting websites. In her spare time, she runs marathons, collects thrift shop finds and eats ice cream like it’s her job.

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