Back to school, back to…normal? Even with the uncertainties that occupy our minds, it feels like we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were this time last year. Through the various uncertainties that currently occupy our nation, we know we can count on one thing – one group – to keep us moving forward and doing our best with what the 2022-2023 school year throws at us:
When COVID-19 shut down the world in 2020, it felt like teachers were finally getting the recognition they deserve. Overworked and underpaid, they followed Dory’s advice and just kept swimming with our kids in tow. They Zoomed their hearts out. They zigged when students had spotty wi-fi or too few devices to share among siblings. They zagged when CDC and district guidelines and policies changed without notice.
More than talking heads at the front of a classroom, these educators are our kids’ counselors, cheerleaders, and even tech support. As we prepare to head into the new school year, we have a better idea of what to expect, whether in-person or virtual. But we also have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for what our kids’ teachers give day in and day out.
To the teacher moms who mother their own children while giving ours the keys to their best possible futures, we thank you.
Homeschooling has seen a huge spike in popularity in the last 2 years. Pre-pandemic, there were roughly 2.5 million homeschooled students in the United States accounting for about 4% of all school aged children. By March of 2021, that number had doubled to 5 million – and now homeschooled students in grades K-12 are estimated to comprise approximately 9% of all school-aged children!
That means a whole lotta mamas who chose to pivot, focusing their time and energy on providing their kids with a safe, solid education – and a whole lotta mamas who spend every waking minute within the walls of their homes….and without a break.
To the moms who left their jobs entirely or negotiated working from home in order to homeschool, and to the moms who had already been homeschooling pre-pandemmy (for whatever reasons make sense for their families), we’re in awe of you and we see you – even though you don’t get to leave the house much.
You’re not “just” babysitters – every working mom will testify to that! You educate, comfort, engage, and love our babies as your own. You often get to see those milestones – rolling over! first steps! first words! – while we’re at work, but you don’t make us feel guilty. Instead, you celebrate with us and update us with texts and pictures throughout the day, and that’s the kind of care we depend on in order to leave our children while having any sort of peace in our hearts! Our little ones love you, and you are family. Without you, our entire system breaks down, and we know it!
To those keeping our babies happy and healthy while we’re bringing home the bacon, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Even in the most egalitarian households where chores, bills, and parenting responsibilities are split fairly evenly, there still seems to be one partner that shoulders more of the thought/memory-based work.
If you have a text thread with your child’s speech therapist, know your child’s current shoe size, and can tell me exactly how many cans of Clorox wipes your kid’s school supply list requested? Congratulations! You’re the one carrying the bulk of the mental load.
If you’re a teacher, your mental load extends past your own children to cover concerns about your students’ home lives and personal issues. If you’re a homeschool mom, you’re not just responsible for the formation of their moral character and physical/emotional needs but also the entirety of their education. If you’re a nanny or daycare provider, your mental load doesn’t stop when you’re off the clock because your love for those kids isn’t an 8-5 situation.
This is why we must advocate and fight for each other – even for women whose choices are different from ours; whose choices we may not understand or agree with. We all rely on each other to keep the plates spinning and the balls in the air.
- Teachers need better pay and better support – did you know that a 10% increase in teacher pay is estimated to produce a 5-10% improvement in student performance? Why wouldn’t we want that for our educators and our kids?
- Working moms deserve equal pay, high-quality, affordable childcare and a completely overhauled approach to maternity & family leave.
- Stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, and homeschooling moms need better systems that allow them shame/guilt-free time away from their families doing things that support their physical and mental health – whether that’s exercise, therapy, or a hobby that serves no other purpose than to make them happy.
Back-to-School season is always bittersweet. Summer fun is over, but the possibilities of the new year looming on the horizon bring a special sort of excitement every fall.
Let’s channel that excitement for a better future for our kids into a better future for the women raising them, too.
Here’s to the 2022-23 school year, and the women who will make it magical!