Am I the only one who has (or had) all the feelings, when deciding on whether to send their kidlets back to school, with the COVID pandemic? Do you feel guilty about your decision to send them back? Do you feel like you don’t even know what the right thing is? That was me!
Yesterday, when I wrote this, it was day one back to school for one of our kids (VIC is sending Prep - Grade 2 and year 11 and 12 first). I can honestly say that I think I had every emotion known run through me, on the day and almost every day leading up to the first day back. In fact, we didn't officially officially decide to send him back until the night before.
I sat with it for days, after the announcement from Dan Andrews, thinking of what the best decision would be. Do I want to send them back separately or do we wait until all three of them can go at the same time? Should we wait until after the first week and see what happens? Are we, Victoria, even really ready to go back to school? How many cases were there yesterday? How about last week? What will it be like tomorrow? What are the other states doing? What are other parents doing?
So many questions and all of them swirling in my head at any giving moment, and this was just the thoughts about returning to school. Then I realised, I was putting too much stock in the outside world's opinions. Allowing them to creep into my already scattered mind and forever changing my opinion. So much so, that I don't even think that I could say that I had an opinion of my own. At all. I was just quoting everyone else’s opinion.
I had the words of others in my head, their opinions. Not mine. Opinions which more often than not, had nothing to do with me and my family.
It wasn't until Master 7 gave me a stern talking to, that things fell into place and I started to feel better. I kid you not! He turned to me and said..."Mum, I'm gonna be alright. You don't need to worry."
This was the moment that I realised firstly, my child was mature beyond his years but then, that if my 7-year-old could get a grip surely I could!
I cut out the noise, stopped reading up on case numbers in other countries, then even outside our state. I stopped analysing everything. I had been looking at the big picture and not the little one, my little one. So I started looking at the little picture, my family. My little family among the millions of others in Australia and I know that we are all in this together but realistically, I have me and my own to look after and worry about.
It may sound heartless and even a little community-less (if that's even a word), but I need to make sure that we are mentally ready for coming back into the world, with COVID-19. That we are safe, and oh yeah, that the kids are ready. I had realised that I hadn't even asked them about how they felt. What did they think about returning to school?
Two out of three said they were stoked to go back, and the other one didn't want to go back (but that was purely out of a disinterest in socialising - not because he was worried about COVID-19).
So what did all of this mean for us?
That I couldn't care about what others think and I couldn’t worry about what everyone else was doing.
We need to do what's best for us, using the information that we have.
There is every chance that a second wave may come, but what are we to do? What's the alternative? Stay locked at home until the virus is completely eradicated? Is that even feasible? Can I do that and guarantee that all five of us will make it out of the house, alive? NO! I can't.
To be honest, I cannot wait for all three of them to be back at school! I know it sounds horrible for a Mum to say it but, I need some alone time. Some time where the word Mum doesn’t come out of any mouths. I have been in this house, with these three little people, for months. I cannot do it much longer.
So yes, it can be seen as us using my youngest son as a guinea pig but we are choosing to be cautiously optimistic.
Master 7 is at school this week and is lucky enough to be the first of our bumbles to hang with his mates. The other two will follow June 9th, provided everything remains as is or better, and I can begin to regain some of my sanity.
Do I feel guilty about my decision? Not anymore.
Just do you.
You do not have to explain yourself to anyone. You do not need to do what other families are doing, nor do you need to do what your mates think is best.
Think of you and your family’s needs.
That's what I'm doing.