Did you watch the Friends Reunion special on HBOMax?? I did. As a geriatric millenial (yep, it’s a thing), I have watched every Friends episode–three times at least. I had the DVD box set. When there was nothing to watch on TV (pre-kids of course), I knew Friends was always on re-run somewhere. I know all the social critiques of the show and I’ve read the theories about Ross & Rachel. I go deep in my Friends fandom.
The One With The Pandemic
It’s been a hard year. Last summer, my husband and I made the difficult decision to pull our oldest out of preschool for the upcoming year. The pandemic had introduced us to two months of “virtual preschool,” and that had been a disaster for all of us. Plus we were still paying full tuition! With so many unanswerable questions about the pandemic and school that fall, we decided she would stay home with me and her baby sister. I’m currently a SAHM, so I started my research. I read about Montessori at home, play-based curricula, educational opportunities from home. I made spreadsheets, printed lesson plans, purchased a ridiculous amount of educational and craft supplies from Amazon. I had never been homeschooled, nor had I ever educated a young child, but I was all in. Let’s go!
The One Where I Got Sick
We developed a good rhythm, my girl and I. Baby sister would go down for a nap, and we would have an hour to read together, do an activity, learn a letter, practice writing, count and sort, etc. There were moments that things didn’t go as planned, but overall, it was a happy little homeschool situation and we were learning together.
The holidays messed up our routine, as holidays tend to do. Just after Christmas, the baby dropped her morning nap and I began to figure out how to entertain both girls until the highly anticipated 1 o’clock nap hour. Suddenly I found myself needing a nap then too. Just another week, I told myself. We’re recovering from the holidays…just another week and then we’ll get our homeschool rhythm back. Well, the next week brought headaches…and vomiting…and a lot of Frozen 2. I was in the violent swings of early pregnancy, an unexpected baby #3 on the way.
I gave up. I could barely watch the girls, let alone find the energy or creativity to set up an educational activity. I began to silently berate myself every day that we never touched our homeschooling activities. Will she be behind next year at school? Was this a waste of money? Why couldn’t I pull this off? I’m such a failure.
The One Where Ross Geller Gave Me Parenting Advice
The best wisdom, I’ve found, comes from the most unlikely places. What is David Schwimmer’s most quoted line from Friends? “We were on a break”? Nope. “I’m the Holiday Armadillo”? Not even close.
Such a simple word that has made it basically impossible for many of us to move furniture without dissolving into giggles. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a ridiculous scene where Ross has Chandler and Rachel helping him move a couch up the stairs of an apartment building, and he keeps yelling “PIVOT!” at them, as if that direction will magically make the entire endeavor successful.
The One Where We Pivoted
To pivot is to turn, sometimes dramatically, almost swinging around to continue in a new direction. What did I need in February of this year? I needed to pivot. I embraced the idea that kids can learn ANYWHERE and from ANYTHING. With an active toddler by my side, any activities for my preschooler needed to be accessible to her younger sister as well. We read lots of books, we watched plenty of Sesame Street, and we talked about what we saw as we drove through the neighborhood. My preschooler was genuinely curious about letters by then and asking which sounds were associated with which letters. She watched with curiosity as a new house was built behind ours and asked about each step in the process. She began counting higher and higher; I pointed out patterns in books or nature and she began to create her own. I pivoted from a structured homeschool approach to an off-the-cuff awareness based approach and…we made it.
We made it to June. I didn’t take an end of year picture and I let myself off the hook (mostly) from the guilt. We enrolled her for school in the fall and I signed her up for a couple of day camps this summer, telling myself the teachers would fill in the gaps I missed.
Friend, let my story be an encouragement for you. Whether your entire life just blew up or just your Tuesday…take a moment to breath, grieve, and then…PIVOT!