My beloved children are finally, FINALLY, back in school, and the world is good. They are happy and busy, which means that I’m not constantly worried. I’m also not frantically working to fill the gaping holes in their lives, I have time to myself. This Tuesday was actually the first day since March 2020 that I had a full day to get work done without driving Ian somewhere in the middle of the day.
After I left academia ten years ago, I gradually transitioned to life as a freelance writer. I researched, pitched, interviewed, wrote, edited full time for many years now. The money sucked, but the job was very interesting and flexible; the flexible schedule meant that I could still do all the special ed mom chores. After the pandemic hit, I scaled back big time. I didn’t have the time or the brain space to do the job properly. I wrote an essay about how I couldn’t write — very meta, I know.
I did get some work done. For example, I wrote a piece about boys and mental health and an essay about Ian going to the prom with brother. I started this newsletter. But I wasn’t popping out 1 to 4 articles per month like I had in the past.
So, this week, for the first time in ages, I had blessed freedom. I sat back and wondered what I should do next. Will I go back to the freelance rat race? Or do I want to do something very different?
I decided to sit on those decisions for a bit. Take my time to weigh my options. In the past, I have let fate steer my ship and just said “yes” to the first opportunity. Going forward, I want to be more intentional about my career and writing, so I’m not going to take the first bus out of the station. We’re heading down to the Jersey shore for a week, so I’ll be thinking these issues through in a beach chair with a frosty drink.
And I imagine that the millions of other women, who had to put their careers on ice the past two years, are making similar decisions. Will they return to the office? Will they have to be still available if the kids are sent home with quarantines? Do they still have the energy for the nonsense that happens in any work place? Will a local, part time job pay enough? Our collective PTSD is going to shape decisions, for sure.
The impact of school closures went far beyond students and teachers. The ripple effects of school closures hit parents, workers, the general economy. There is a growing acceptance that we can’t shut down schools and economy again to control COVID outbreaks. COVID is here to stay, and we’ll have to work around its inconveniences and tragedies.
Where will I fit into this new reality? I’m not sure. But I am beyond blissful that I have new options in front of me.
My Essay About Ian and Jonah at the Prom
Draped in black polyester robes, millions of high school seniors will march across a football field later this month to collect their diplomas ― the exit slip from the neighborhood school that dominated their lives for 15 years. It’s also a finish line of sorts for the tearful parents who believe that they completed the nearly two-decade-long job of raising a quality human being. It’s a time of pride, triumph and butterflies about the future.
My Article about Boys and Mental Health
While Niobe Way was working toward her PhD in counseling at Harvard University in the late 1980s, she was struck by the fact that boys frequently told her during therapy sessions that they wished they had better friendships.
Decades later, Way, now a professor of developmental psychology at New York University and the author of Deep Secrets: Boys’ Friendships and the Crisis of Connection, has interviewed more than a thousand boys and has found that little has changed. “The culture of hypermasculinity makes it harder for boys to form relationships, and that leads to a crisis of connection,” said Way, who has discovered that while boys desire connections with peers, they tend to distance themselves as they age, due to social stigmas.
FROM THE BLOG
Sometimes silence is a legal strategy. Sometimes it’s a true break. Sometimes it’s a sign of a crisis. More in A Royal Mess: The Drama of Silence (Part 8)
“What’s a Break Room?”
Ian started a new job training and social skills program last week. When the teacher sent home the daily schedule, Steve and I raised our eyes at all the unstructured, free time, including a full hour for lunch. I asked the teacher what the students were going to do with all that time down in their downtown basement office space? He said the hour would simulate a break room in an office, where workers leisurely eat lunch and chat with co-workers.
I read the email to Steve and both of us had the same reaction: “What’s a Break Room?”
The parenting responsibilities for a young adult with autism, even a high functioning version, never end.
My jaw is still on the ground about the TX abortion law. I don’t have anything original to say; there are those with a real expertise on this issue, so I’ll let them do their thing.
Over the past ten years, we have lost real progressivism — focus and attention on the groups of people that need help and issues that need attention — to the easier (and free) focus on the Trump Buffoon and COVID hysteria. It’s time to return to our roots. Here’s a great article about rural education by Casey Parks.I want more of this.
Home: I haven’t written up a before/after post about the siding on our house yet, because I’m waiting for the landscaper to pop in some shrubs into the front of the house. That’s happening next Monday. But if you want to see some teaser pictures, look here.
Travel: Steve and Ian and I went to the Met Museum of art last Monday. I was really attracted to the deep colors on the walls and art. Great exhibit on the art during the era of the Medici. Some pictures here. Afterwards, we got a bite in one of those dive Irish pubs on the Upper East Side that still haven’t been swallowed up by development. On Saturday, we’re going down to the beach for a week.