Co-Parenting Is Hard Enough Without Adding Pandemic School Into The Mix

by Diana Park
Originally Published: 

“I think we should get the kids back in school. They all told me they want to go back to school.” This is what my ex-husband said to me over the phone the other night as I was just sitting down to dinner with my kids after not seeing them all weekend.

We agreed as a family they would do 100% remote learning, and now they were apparently missing school.

I had just faked my way through helping my son with Academic Physics, which I didn’t even take in high school, so the idea of sending them back to school in person wasn’t looking too shabby because I felt dumb, helpless, and exasperated.

But then that frustration just passed onto my ex, because we’d already sat the kids down earlier in the summer and talked to them about the choices they had for the upcoming school year.

Once we decided they’d stay home, I had to fill out paperwork. I had to tell them there was no going back and they had to stick with this decision until January. I had to go get their books and computers. I’ve had to help them when they didn’t understand something or had trouble logging on to Google Classroom. I’ve had to wake them up most mornings to make sure they are up before 7:30 because that’s when their school is taking attendance.

It’s this way because I work from home and I’m able to be here for them, which I love. Their dad gets them around dinner time and then they drive here in the morning twice a week before they start their school day.

It was only a few weeks ago when he said he didn’t want our daughter to attend a birthday party with two other girls because he didn’t think it’d be safe. I felt bad for my daughter, but I agreed it would be too risky. But now he wanted me to do something to get them back in school? It seemed hypocritical — and really fucking annoying.

I’m not telling you this to complain, I’m telling you this so you can see why it’s irritating for me to do all the leg work and then get an out-of-the-blue call from him because he thinks we can just — *snaps fingers* — send them back to school and it shouldn’t be a problem.

When things like this happen, it undermines the work I’ve done and the things I’ve said to my kids about their safety and knowing they have to stick to this plan. My ex doesn’t see it that way, of course, so it adds another level of drama to our family life because now my kids know we are in disagreement on this subject.

There’s also the fact of making sure we are in tune with all they need to do for their classes and homework on the nights they’re with him. For example, my daughter needs to have access to a printer during certain days so she can prepare for the next day’s class. This forces us to communicate more than we would normally.

We are lucky in that we get along well and have always put our kids first, but that doesn’t mean we don’t snap at each other, argue, and disagree about what’s best for them. Even though we normally have a pretty easy time co-parenting, pandemic schooling has thrown a wrench in that, to say the least.

If you are co-parenting right now due to a divorce or separation, you are definitely feeling the wrath of 2020, and this shit is getting really old.

Emotions are probably running higher than they ever have: We are scared, our kids are scared, and we are literally just winging it trying to survive this thing.

Doing it alone on certain days, then with someone you used to be married to when you need to communicate or need help, is enough to make you want to tune out … or walk around in a pissed off state all the damn time.

I’ve been to both places several times over.

We get an email from the school every day. Our kids’ schedules get sent to us once a week. There are parent/teacher coffee hours once a week. All of this is helpful and necessary. And it’s something we have to manage together because I can’t do it all on my own.

This past week alone, we’ve gotten several calls and emails from the schools alerting parents of positive COVID-19 cases. Our kids have not been in contact with anyone going to school, so we are out of the woods — but this is still something we are navigating together because it involves our community, our kids’ peers, and teachers they know and love. Not to mention the fact that they’re really hoping to head back to school next month … but now, I don’t see that happening, despite my ex.

When there’s a global pandemic, it’s hard to feel safe and content. It’s also really hard to communicate and get along with someone you used to be married to and agree on things like whether they should participate in certain school activities or not.

And I’m pretty sure I’m in good company when I say the co-parents of the world want to go back to arguing about the regular stuff they used to and take this pandemic schooling discussion completely off the damn table.

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