As a mom of 4 school-aged children, this year’s back to school is like no other. Virtual school is new for many households. I’m sure many parents are feeling that sting of trying to take into account multiple factors (working, schooling, living).
I, however, have yet another obstacle to conquer. I’m also a teacher/librarian. Birmingham Teacher/Mom Kayla E. said it best, “When people ask me how I feel about school beginning virtually, it’s hard to pin down the right response.” So while ensuring that my own kids are focused and doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I’m also responsible for making sure that my students get a quality virtual education as well. While I am definitely pro- Supt. J. Ray, and agree with the decision he made to start the school year virtually, this does put me in bit of a pickle.
(But I would rather be in a pickle than in a petri dish.)
This school year, my oldest will be entering 7th grade, the twins will be in 3rd grade, and the boss-child will be entering 2nd grade. (My daughter is an exact replica of Diane from Black-ish.)
Do I know 7th grade curriculum stuff? Maybe…Well I should. What about 3rd grade math? Surely, as long as it’s not that weird math they’ve been doing lately. And what about 2nd grade? Those cheesy stories are sure to be the death of me. But the curriculum and what they will learn are honestly not my major concern. I know that SCS already has the curriculum ready to roll. Plus, many teachers have been working since early May to learn how to give effective virtual instruction.
So what does concern me the most? It’s the logistics of everything! I’m not worried about my middle schooler at all. He the most responsible child I know. He will do what he’s suppose to do, when he’s suppose to do it, and he will do all of that to the best of his ability.
But those twins. Nah Mane!I could make sure they’re logged on to their virtual school platform and leave them to learn in their rooms ONLY to get an email from their teacher/my colleague that they can see them playing with legos in the background. Furthermore, I already know that my 2nd grader has the instructional endurance of a gnat. Mainly because she feels like she knows it all. (She is 6 yrs old and starting the 2nd grade, so maybe she is a little smart.)
Here are the things I’m really concerned about:Where can I effectively put everyone so they can have the best at-home, virtual learning environment?
Where will I keep all these school supplies?
How can I fix lunch and teach my students at the same time?
Will the Pandemic EBT continue?
What happens if the internet goes out?
Can our internet actually handle 4 laptops PLUS the tvs, iPads, and phones that are already connected?
How will I be able to function without a midday nap?
Am I going to get headaches again from looking at the laptop too long like I did from March to May?
Will my kids have ill effects from virtual learning too?
If I’m in the middle of a lesson, but my personal child needs help, what do I do?
I have so many questions about how to navigate virtual school for my family, but not enough answers. Here’s what I do know:
My oldest wants to be left in his room. No surprise there. I plan on the twins each learning in their bedrooms, and just pray for the best. My little girl will be at the dining room table. I must keep an eye on her.
It’s going to be difficult being the kids’ educational facilitator while maintaining my own full-time work schedule. I had plans to hire a college kid, but those plans fell through. Plus, this blue-collar family of 6 can only afford to pay so much. So, in true mom form, I will be putting on multiple hats!
I have less than 2 weeks to get my family ready for virtual learning. Bedtimes are now in place, meal plans have been made, and the kids practice “virtual learning” 2-3 days a week. But I feel in my gut that the preparations we have in place may not be enough for them. If I’m being honest, sometimes I wonder if my love for my job overshadows my primary duty as a mom. It would sure be easier to be a stay-at-home mom right now. Even when we had the option to choose for our kids to learn in-person or virtually, my husband and I felt that virtual would be best. We had even looked into Homeschooling an option. But I love my job. And it makes me happy. So there’s that.
Well, I start work on the 24th and the kids start their virtual school on the 31st.
In the midst of this racial uprising (yes it’s still going on), I am so thankful for my White Allies. I really wanted to say that I’m thankful for my white friends, but I was afraid that I’ll sound like that person that says, “I’m not racist! I have a black friend.” Yea. Saying, “I have a black friend” sounds just as stupid as saying, “I have a white friend.” It’s not the having of these friends that makes one not racist, but it’s how you live life with these friend that factors into one’s racism or bias.
So, I decided to use the term allies just so you readers can understand the context in which I am coming from. But don’t get it twisted, these women are my friends; I only share them with the public and their families sometimes.
George Floyd’s murder left me completely and utterly exhausted. I only made one “I’m tired of this” post on Facebook. Don’t try to find it, because someone reported it as bullying. Facebook said that my post went against their community standards on hate speech and inferiority. (Although we all know that there are groups created on Facebook just for hate and inferiority, yet they still stand.) Yea, even Facebook dislikes an angry black women, even when we have every reason to be angry.
It seemed like the moment my voice was semi-silenced, my personal White Allies got louder! Their posts questioned the actions of racists or really, really biased people. They encourage their other white friends to read books and educated themselves on race relations. They protested. They called government officials. They gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “Let’s fight.”
Do you want to know the most beautiful thing about their notion of refusing to be silent? They were never silent! What the world is now seeing about my White Allies, I was always privy to seeing. They were always vocal about racial injustice. They never stood silent while Memphis had vast food deserts. They were always organizing something to ensure that women and mothers have everything they need to survive AND thrive.They have never treated me like “the help.” They don’t cry when I disagree with them and say they feel attacked. I love how they understand that we have cultural differences.
They are just as comfortable in their Whiteness as I am in my Blackness.
I also appreciate that they don’t feel the need to call me and say, “I’m so sorry that this is happening. I just want you to know that I love you.” I already know how my White Allies feel towards me and about what’s going on in the world. It is evident in their actions daily. They don’t feel the need to “make sure” that I know how they feel about the situation. They don’t need affirmations of acceptance or the security of knowing that I know how they feel. Their actions speak louder than words. Rather than calling to say, “You KNOW I love you right? You KNOW I’m not like “those other people,” right? You KNOW that I don’t agree with what’s going on, right?” My White Allies say, “Honey, this crap is crazy. Let me know if you need to vent.”
Now, if you’re a White Ally to someone, don’t be silent about it! I attend a multicultural and multi-ethnic church and some of our members are eerily silent. (Insert cricket sounds.) How they feel about the BLM Movement is questionable and unknown. I don’t know if they are “for” my Blackness or “against” my Blackness. (I’m just saying how I feel.) For example, if we were out somewhere and someone made a racist remark towards me, would these silent, but self-proclaimed White Allies:
I love and appreciate my White Allies. They are unrelenting in their efforts to make Memphis equally as good for People of Color as it is for White People. They see Color in its most vivid form and they appreciate and adore all shades of the human rainbow.
Most importantly, they pour that same energy into their kids! Some may have explicit conversations about race with their kids, while others don’t. Nevertheless, they model for their children love, respect, and equity for all humans. This gives me hope for the future. Because if you were to ask my kids if anyone has ever treated them differently because of their skin color, they would say, “No. Why would anyone want to do that?” They have friends of many nationalities, religions, races, ethnic backgrounds, and socio-economic status. And not one of their friends or their friend’s parents ever treat them differently.
So, my White Allies, don’t stop, don’t settle, and keep that same energy! As Betsy G. from Birmingham Mom Collective said, “I am still in the beginning stages of becoming a true ally to the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our country, but I do know this: Racism is not a battle for people of color to fight alone. We white moms must take up the fight for our brothers and sisters and teach our kids to do the same.”