5 Positive Lessons from Parents During Covid-19
Despite a difficult year, there can be silver linings.
Last year, Catalyst employees shared their stories of caregiving during the pandemic. One year later, how are they faring? It’s been a long, difficult road, but many said they’ve learned valuable lessons—including some silver linings—to parenting in this crisis. For Mother’s Day, we asked employees to share these lessons with our readers. Here’s what they had to say.
Not Everything is Within Your Control—And That’s Okay
Last year, I had a four-year-old who had never been to school or daycare. He was preparing to finally go off into the real world where he would make new friends and embark upon his educational journey. Unfortunately, he never had a chance to attend school because of Covid-19, and I had to scramble to find out how I would support him educationally. I found myself so down due to the pressure of being a single mom juggling the responsibilities of educating a child, along with working full-time. I was also overwhelmed with the feeling that my baby boy was cheated out of a critical piece of his childhood.
However, I quickly learned how resilient children are when faced with a challenge. I watched him as he came up with new ways to learn and even entertain himself all on his own, and with a big smile on his face. Observing him taught me a valuable lesson. There are things in this life that we just simply cannot control, so when life throws you lemons, get your glasses out and make lemonade (with extra sugar to make it even better!) Last week my son turned five and will start kindergarten in August. When I walk him into his class for the very first time, I can truly say that he has taught me how to remain optimistic and hopeful in the midst of adversity.
—Salyndria Gregory, Senior Associate, MARC Client Partnership
Spending Time with Family is a Privilege
As a grandmother of a two- and three-year-old, through the pandemic I was blessed to be able to see my grandchildren, both of whom live in the area, regularly. With childcare closed down, I was also blessed to be able to provide my own children much-needed breaks from the grueling and relentless burden of parenting. We all grew closer and gained a greater appreciation of the importance of family.
—Lorraine Hariton, President & CEO
Small Moments are Sometimes the Most Important
I recently found a picture from my oldest daughter’s school Valentine’s Day party in early 2020. At that time, I was traveling constantly for work, and I had made the decision to cut a business trip short to make sure I was home for her. Surrounded by marshmallow hearts and red, pink, and white M&M’s, she smiled up at me and said how happy she was that I volunteered. My working mommy guilt melted away, and I knew I had prioritized the right thing!
These days, I often find myself thinking about that party. My daughters have been in virtual school for over a year now, and it seems like a lifetime. Work and home aren’t ever quite “balanced,” and it has been a long and difficult year. Then I think about all of the positives during this time–spending more time with my family and being present for all of the little and big moments that I may have previously missed. Being forced to slow down has ended up being one of the things for which I’m most grateful. Think about what really matters to you–and what you’ll want to remember in the years to come. I know those class holiday parties will be in our future again–and I’m confident I’ll be there.
—Julie Nugent, Senior Vice President, Learning and Advisory Services
Hobbies Can Bring Unexpected Happiness
The highlight of our pandemic year has been hobbies…hobbies, hobbies, HOBBIES! These interests help keep us sane in between Zoom classes and conference calls. After trying out my hand at knitting, ukulele, 1,000-piece puzzles and baking much more than a body can eat in a year, I realized family activities would be much more enjoyable—and my five-year-old son agreed.
We became stewards of a Little Free Library—a process which was a hobby within a hobby! To build the library, we took an abandoned antique oven and repurposed it into a colorful, book-holding structure that sits in our front yard. Our take-a-book, leave-a-book hobby is even part of our lifelong, family commitment to antiracism. In the spirit of joy-sharing and generosity, we’ve also taken up rock painting. We paint rocks, write kindness messages on them, and hide them at local parks or near hospitals, for people to find. My son has been especially excited about our latest hobby: gardening. Our zucchini, onion, and eggplant have begun sprouting, to my son’s daily delight. We are eagerly awaiting harvest time.
—Corin Ramos, Director, Research
Parenting Teaches You an Essential Skill: Empathy
My almost eight-month-old daughter Ila was born in the midst of this pandemic. Giving birth during these strange times has been an isolated experience for many women like myself. As an immigrant and first-time mom, I was scared to bring Ila home from the hospital, knowing that there will be absolutely no help for us. But babies challenge you to aspire to be your best self and help them grow and flourish. They teach you that no matter how hard parenting is, time will pass and they are just here to enjoy “being” and you are their only hope in this journey. I am grateful that Ila challenged me to practice empathy for all women out there who do it all by themselves under much more severe conditions.
—Negin Sattari, Director, Research