*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on November 12, 2020. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

Pandemic parenting’s no joke. But there’s still little bits of gold in this dark mineshaft that COVID has forced us into.

That mineshaft – our world – is smaller now. With less in the outside, we’ve turned inward, toward the people we live with.

It can be as intense as an overstuffed oven. I’ve had a parent-kid conversation that started talking about koalas that ended in a screaming match that might’ve set off the Richter scale.

And there is no “new normal.” One “new normal” would’ve been great. We’re on like our fourth or fifth “new normal” at this point. 

I still remember March when our daughter came home with her entire bag stuffed with all her schoolbooks. Not lots of school books. Not most schoolbooks. All her schoolbooks. Watching her nearly buckle under that enormous load was all the sign I needed that we’d all be struggling for a while. 

The other day my younger daughter got in a fight with her sister, went to her room, slammed the door. Annoyed at the racket, I followed her in.

She was crying into her pillow, on her bottom bunk bed. Instantly, I went from irritated to concerned, didn’t say a thing, and just crawled down on my back next to her. She rotated to her side, facing me. She cried some more until she fell asleep, until the ups and downs of her tiny chest pushed on my shoulder.

We are so lucky to have one another, even now – even while we live to live another day, we have each other. And that’s a lot.

Be good, be well, be generous with your time for family and friends. Until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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