As we head into the sixth week of schools being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I reflect back on the previous five. People’s opinions and experiences are going to vary one family to another. This one is coming from the perspective of a father who, for the last year, has missed out on time with his kids and time at home with his family because he was chasing a dream that never was, the endless intention of making the almighty dollar to provide a better future for his children.
My wife and I have 3 children; our eldest, the only boy, turned 9 during the lockdown. The girls are 7 and 4. The older two go to the local primary school and the youngest goes to pre-school. So when I realised that the chase for the dream wasn’t going to bear fruit and not only was it putting financial, but mental and emotional stress on us, I decided it wasn’t worth losing my time with our young children. Most people live to work, I worked so we could live but it was getting to a point where I had to make a choice between chasing that dream or a life with my wife and kids. As a kid, I grew up without financial freedom so it was an easy choice to make.
…in front of me were 3 of the most beautiful things that came with this lockdown.
As the schools were shut and lockdown preparations were made, we were headed for a time of uncertainty. We had removed the children from school a week earlier as we didn’t want to put them (or us) at risk. We were preparing ourselves for what was going to happen.
Over the years I have learnt to not react to situations. I have a strong belief in keeping a calm head and wait for information before deciding a course of action. I also believe that there’s no need to use negative energy before retaining information and forming a solution when in a negative situation.
For me, the lockdown has been sort of a blessing in disguise. Instead of looking at the things that aren’t or the things we couldn’t do, I looked towards what was in front of me… and in front of me were 3 of the most beautiful things that came with this lockdown.
My wife had started a job in a hospital before the end of last year, which turned out to be another blessing. As we know, she works in what we know now as an “essential” job and despite the fact that her work hours have been lowered, I still consider ourselves blessed.
When she’s at work, I’m at home with the kids. In the beginning I found it hard to be the “wife” as society has stereotyped men. So, I found myself having to adjust to being that but still have my masculinity intact.
As I eluded to earlier, there were 3 reasons why I looked towards the silver lining in this uncertain and stressful time. I realised that 12 months ago I was struggling to find time with the children because I was so busy and on my days off I just wanted to relax and not be involved in any of the children’s activities.
The lockdown has given me back what I had lost and yearned for the past year. I have never spent this much time with my children until now. I have begun to get to know them, their tendencies and the things they like and dislike. I also have observed their bad habits and the things they do that drive a parent absolutely nuts. I have my moments of frustration with them but I think of what’s in front of me.
So many fathers never had the opportunity that I have right now.
I ask you this: Where’s your head at right now? Have you learnt anything about yourself and your children during this lockdown? Has this situation made you stronger mentally and emotionally or have you cracked? What do you value the most?
I certainly have gotten to know myself, as well as my children. I encourage you to do the same and look for the silver lining. To be honest, we take the time we have with our children for granted.
So where do we go from here? We look forward to things going back to normal but can we go back to the way it was? Or have we seen a glimpse of the future?
One thing I have noticed with the children having to do online school is that they actually pay attention and are motivated to do their schoolwork. I haven’t heard “I don’t want to go to school” or “I’m sick”. They actually look forward to their web meetings and doing their activities. There are no distractions. The children have never been so focused at completing their task.
Being at home has also taught them to be helpful. They’ve helped out with the chores. They help cook and are starting to have passion for it and it’s become automatic at times. Sometimes I don’t need to tell them. They just do it. I’m proud of what they have become despite the circumstances. They even said it themselves that aside from not having contact with their friends, they actually like this type of schooling.
Is this the way of the future? Only time will tell but it’s important now to not just shove them away. Don’t be too busy. Don’t just have to pay the bills. Don’t worry about a holiday.
Some fathers wish for time with their kids and some of us are finally living that dream.