Yes, parenting through a pandemic sucks. But instead of agonizing, I'm trying to focus on the good.

Yes, parenting through a pandemic sucks. But instead of agonizing, I'm trying to focus on the good.
Melissa Petro's children grew a lot while they sheltered in place.Melissa Petro
  • Having no childcare, homeschooling my kids, and scaling back my writing career to do so have sucked.
  • I want to remind all parents going through the same of the highs of parenting, instead of the lows.

Thanks to the latest surge leading to school closures, a shortage of tests, and increased hospitalizations among children — compounded by the fact that children under age 5 are still ineligible for the vaccine — parents everywhere are in agony and despair, and they feel overwhelmed.

I'm one of those rageful moms you've probably read about — foaming at the mouth, or more literally, crumpled on the floor in tears over how little society is doing to support us. Parenting, under any circumstance, is a slog. Parenting through a pandemic is basically impossible.

But parenting — even during a pandemic — has its nice moments, too. I want to focus on those before my kids grow into teens with busy schedules that don't include hanging out with me.

Parenting through a pandemic is a roller coaster of emotions

Oscar, my 4-year-old, was kicked out of preschool over behavioral issues, so now we're homeschooling. I'm a certified elementary school teacher with a master's degree in childhood education and three years of experience in teaching kids in grades K-5. I left teaching in 2010, and even I find homeschooling hard.

Teaching is a profession, not something to toss onto parents with other careers. Teaching my own child is not something I ever wanted to do.


And yet, often enough, as I'm about to give up entirely and shove a screen in his face, something energizing happens. Last week, for example, I explained how the snow outside was made up of snowflakes and showed him what a real snowflake looked like up close under a microscope. I totally blew his mind.

Time flies when you're sheltering in place

My daughter was born in December 2019, less than three months before the start of the pandemic. Now, she's just over 2 years old, and she's a terror. She does that toddler thing where she demands a green bowl and then melts down when you give it to her because she said green.

Molly doesn't know her colors, but she can count to two. And she loves the "Happy Birthday" song, shopping, and baby dolls. Dealing with her tantrums while cajoling her brother into tracing letters and numbers is utterly unfeasible, and if I could find a spot in a local daycare, I'd enroll her.

That said, I love watching something I squeezed out my vagina rapidly becoming a person in their own right.

Kids learn every day

When Oscar was 3, he was obsessed with Titanic — the actual nautical tragedy, not the movie. He'd stop strangers on the street and ask if they'd heard about what happened.


My son has trouble focusing, but we get it done — even with his sister throwing a tantrum and blaring Peppa Pig in the background. It helps that, thanks to the fact that we're homeschooling, I can teach him in ways that suit his learning style and focus on what interests him most.

Oscar loves nonfiction books about the Titanic, boats, fish, oceans, ponds, and rivers — particularly the Hudson River. He's just started learning to read. Earlier this week, he sounded out his first word: "cat."

I feel angry, sad, frustrated, abandoned, exhausted, and distraught. I also feel immensely proud of the work we're all doing.

Yes, the world is garbage, and this pandemic feels like it'll never end. I'm as dead inside as you are. Still, most days my kids do something to warm my cold, despairing heart. So I'm going to focus on that for now, so I can keep going through our isolated life.