Surrounded by toys, gadgets, art & craft supplies, spilled food, my two beloved children, who are now fast asleep, and a planner that holds no meaning for now, I sit quietly, enjoying a peaceful morning and sipping the last few drops of coffee and my freedom that is about to come to an end.
The alarm goes off, waking my eldest one from her siesta. So I do what every mother does – straighten up and soldier on.
As everyone knows, being a working mom is hard. The pandemic, however, has made it even harder. Before the world was paralysed by this virus, my life as a working mother and a professional was segregated. I left home and went to work. I came home and did my chores. Now, it’s just people asking for things non-stop.
I’m a directress in Anthea; an institution that encourages us to guide not lecture, and inspire not ignore. My organisation, unlike many other elementary education systems, does not believe in the one-size-fits-all curriculum. Instead, we give our students the freedom of choice. Children learn to solve problems and think on their own; they face challenge with an attitude of inquiry. These are some of the primary reasons I chose this type of education for my children too.
However, due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the things I loved seemed to have turned against me. Now, instead of face-to-face interactions, cheerful Good Mornings, Namaste and As-salamu alaykum from children, I receive a low data sign or internet disabled message on my horrid flat screen, where I sit inside one small box, and watch the tinier versions on my students. Some confused, some restless and others looking blankly at the screen, but all of us just trying our best to learn and adapt to this new normal, with time this new normal has been adapted by most of us with a smile and positive vibes that we all are connected.
I start my day by waking up my children who are 5.8 and 3 years old. Taking care of them, hoping that everything in their basic needs at the very least is covered. Then, I work towards preparing everything for my class in the best way I can. Of course, having children at home 24/7 is a big challenge. So many times it’s impossible to complete my work during working hours. So it means making lunch and dinner, taking care of children and the house and several other chores. And then once they’re in bed, I continue to do my work in the middle of the night.
On some days, this whole process feels like an emotional roller coaster ride. I start feeling like I’m not doing a good job in any area of my existence. For example, I feel like I’m not being a good mom because I’m not really 100 per cent there for my children, never around for their online sessions too or a good teacher because, I was distracted at times.
But through it all, there have been many good days too. More recently, I have begun to feel like I have finally managed to take the reins of my life. I believed in Maria Montessori’s words – ‘Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed’. Thanks to Anthea, my children have always been quite independent, but with a little assistance, they have now become well-versed with technology too. My elder daughter manages to log in into her online classes on her own every day with absolute ease and helps her little brother, too. She types almost proficiently and often times help me with my work! There are days when the two of them stay without any adult assistance at home for hours.
With time I have finally accepted the help of technology for my children. A set of reminders for the day makes our day smooth. Some reminders are set for the whole week like the online session timings .This has helped me control my BP and continue working without a break 😉
My elder one plays the role of a mini adult in the house by helping the little one just how much is required. Her sentences are framed this way – “Come on, I know you can do it yourself.” “You know right, you are a big boy now” “Look at how to do it, I will do and you can see me and try” and lots more. To all this my little one tries proving that he is a big boy and can do all that she does. A quote of Maria Montessori’s fits in well here “The greatest gift we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”
Over time, screams of “MAMMA”, “MUMMY”, “MA” coming from the other room, have now turned into gentle knocks and polite requests because now they understand that mummy’s working. Of course, there are occasional meltdowns and many, many fights, but there are many snuggles, hugs and kisses too. And for this and much more, I am grateful.
My favourite quote from Maria Montessori aptly says, “The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ Seeing my children do that (both at home and in Anthea) makes me not just a happy parent, but a happy teacher too.