This caught me a little off guard—the sight of fully-stocked shelves of school supplies.

I knew they were bound to show up eventually. Stores have to carry on as usual. Summer is passing by, and school will be here before we know it.

So why did the sight of pencils, and crayons, and backpacks feel like such a punch to the gut? I guess because it is a visual reminder that a hard decision will need to be made sooner rather than later.

RELATED: I Bought School Supplies Today, Please Don’t Judge Me

We are still about six weeks away from the start of the school year in my district. I’m still waiting to hear the official reopening plans. Our family hasn’t made any definite decisions.

But here’s the thing.

When those plans are announced in the next couple of weeks, I know I won’t want to choose any of the options.

Because during a global pandemic, there are NO good options.

I love our district. I have deep respect for our administrators and teachers. I know they are working around the clock to try to come up with options that would best serve our community. And as parents, we then have to take that information and decide what is best for our children.

But WHAT is best?

RELATED: There Are No ‘Right’ Decisions About School This Year So Please Just Be Kind

I have never had any desire to homeschool my kids. God bless all you homeschooling moms and dads. It just doesn’t feel like a good fit for our family.

Virtual learning did NOT go well this spring. There were so many tears shed. We survived, but we certainly didn’t thrive. This doesn’t feel like a good fit either.

But I also don’t want to make my kids wear a mask all day, and go through daily temperature checks, and send them into an environment where they have to socially distance from their friends and teachers, and can’t just be the carefree 6- and 8-year-olds they deserve to be. I worry about how this type of environment will affect them, especially my kindergartner. My heart breaks at the thought of introducing him to public school this way.

What if I send them to school and they get sick, or unknowingly make someone else sick? That would be awful.

RELATED: As the School Year Nears, Nothing I Choose Feels Right

But I also wonder if keeping them home is the best choice. I worry virtual learning will be a complete disaster. I worry about their mental health. I worry about my mental health.

Everyone says to trust your gut, but you know what my gut is saying?

Choose answer D—none of the above.

But that isn’t an option. I will have to make a choice. I just pray that with whatever choice is made, I can find some kind of peace. Because my gut could use a break from being tied in knots.

P.S. These times are confusing not just for parents, but for our kids, too. The Coping Skills For Kids Workbook is a great tool for helping them work through their big emotions. 

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Mary Ann Blair

Mary Ann Blair is a stay-at-home mom living in the Pacific Northwest with her two little gentlemen and hubs. She loves connecting with other parents who like to keep it real! Her work has been published on Her View From Home, Motherly, A Fine Parent, Perfection Pending, That’s Inappropriate, Pregnant Chicken, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Red Tricycle and in Chicken Soup For the Soul. She can be found at maryannblair.com or on Facebook at Miracles in the Mess