Coronavirus Parenthood: The Stress Level Is High, Glitter Glue Is Everywhere
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In April, Shammeer Dawson hauled the family's inflatable bounce house from the garage.
With her four kids — 8-year-old Taj, 5-year-old Shelora, and twins Ronn and Rome, age 3 — occupied, she took a few minutes to check in over the roaring of the fan keeping the bounce house buoyant.
"They want me to play with them, and I'm exhausted as you can probably hear. Today has been a strong day. I've been feeling irritable, loved, impatient and compassionate. It's a whole range of feelings, both good and bad. The stress level is high and my biggest concern is that I want to be whatever I can for my kids, but I don't think I can do that.
"I don't think I can fit that mold. I want to be the homeschool mom. I want to be the innovative thinker, creating all types of science projects and games for them to play, when I just want to lay down and go to sleep. I wonder how you guys are doing out there... I just wanted to give you guys a sense of what's going on in my world. Blessings to all of you."
LAist is sad to report the bounce house has since sustained an irreparable hole.
We first met Shammeer and her family in fall 2019. She's part of an ongoing photo project to document the lives of parents with children under 5.
Since the start of the coronavirus shutdowns, she's single-handedly taken on her children's Spanish-language curriculum, shuttled between schools to pick up free meals, and overseen numerous craft projects. Some are planned, like Fruit Loops necklaces, and others are more spontaneous — glitter glue spread enthusiastically over the Monopoly property title card holder in the style of the spinning battle toys, Beyblades.
It's a lot — on this particular morning, a little too much.
"I don't want to hear any kids call my name. I don't want to see anything they built. I don't want to see anything they drew. I don't want to hear any flips they're doing. I just want to be alone. But I can't be alone because I've got four people. But overall this is the life."
Shammeer is also worried that she won't be able to refill the prescription for the medication she takes to manage the autoimmune disease lupus. After President Donald Trump said the drug hydroxychloroquine could be an effective treatment for COVID-19, there was a widespread shortage. The FDA has since warned against using the drug without strict medical supervision.
Shammeer records many of her updates while the family is stretching their legs outside. This particular Friday she was taking a walk through the neighborhood.
"This is nice, to be outside and to get fresh air. We saw an airplane fly over us. We live next to the Hawthorne Municipal Airport and the LAX, and so we do get airplanes, and it's just a joy to see one and see something happening that's good around us, some kind of normalcy.
"It's just been a trying week. The kids, getting them into the online learning, have been resistant, have been noncompliant at times, and it's taking longer for me to get them engaged. Especially having the babies around...In the background someone says 'Mommy, look at this truck.' I see, I see the truck. Yep, you made that. All they want to do is play and jump on my air mattress and eat all the food up that they can that's carbs, and I love it.
I love that they're happy... and I'm going to push my daughter now on the bike. Hope everyone is blessed."
Early childhood education engagement producer Stefanie Ritoper contributed to this story.
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- In English: Let's Keep A Diary Together: What's It Like For You In The Time Of Coronavirus?
- In Spanish: Ayúdenos A Contar Las Historias Personales De Esta Pandemia