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It’s all there. The pencils, the folders, the notebooks.

She bought them each a new backpack and a new pair of shoes to give them something to be excited about on the first day. Something to give them a little extra confidence.

She’s bought the masks, a five-pack for each kid, so everyone has enough.

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

She’s sat the kids down and explained to them the school’s new guidelines and why they’re important.

She thinks of the teachers who are now on the front lines, themselves wondering how they’re going to manage proper social distancing and new hygiene habits with a school full of children. It’s going to be like herding cats. So the least she can do is make sure that they’ll have a few less kids to worry about. She wants her kids to be shining examples of social responsibility.

Still, she wonders if it’s enough.

The first day of school has always been a day of celebration for this okay mom. It’s practically her favorite holiday, next to Christmas morning. She loves her babies. Beyond anything. She loves them so much that she wants them to keep thriving and living. Which is becoming increasingly difficult since they were unceremoniously ripped from their routine back in March.

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

She needs her life back.

She needs their routine back.

The routine that kept them all sane and productive.

The routine that saves her from slipping into the abyss of her own damaging self-destructive habits, and left with near-crippling anxiety over how she’s letting too much fall through the cracks.

She and her family need that routine back.

She is eager for the break she’ll get while her kids are all in school. And it makes her feel both relieved and selfish.

She can’t help but think, “Am I taking the easy way out? Am I doing a selfish thing because I know that I’m not strong enough as an educator to foster these brilliant little minds? Minds that are much more intelligent than my own. They need teachers. They need classmates. They need structure. I can’t give them any of that at home. Am I just making excuses?”

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

Distance learning is an option. And there are lots of parents who are choosing it.

She got her taste of distance learning last year. It was one of the most frustrating, emotionally draining, demoralizing experiences that she and her children have ever had to endure together, made even worse by watching so many of her friends thrive at it, telling her how simple it can be if you just stay organized.

Organization isn’t exactly this okay mom’s strong suit. Some days it’s all she can do to take care of the regular things that keep a house running. Add to that the insurmountable task of being her children’s sole educator, a position that she neither wants nor is remotely qualified for, and she knows that she’ll break.

It would be like someone throwing you a chainsaw when you’ve just learned how to juggle a few balls.

So she’s chosen to send them back into the world, with as much hope and prayer and preparation as she can give them.

It’s a calculated risk, and not one she is taking lightly. Every cough will be monitored. Every runny nose will be analyzed. There will be temperature checks every morning, and daily reminders of handwashing and hand sanitizing.

She hopes it will be enough. And she struggles because she feels like she isn’t.

Originally published on Facebook

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Becky Relan

I'm 35, with 3 wonderful kids ages 9, 7, and 41 (one of those might actually be my husband, though some days it's hard to distinguish). I live in Biloxi, MS where I spend my days writing, singing, sunbathing. Somewhere in there I find the time to take care of my home and family.

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