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Real Women, Real Stories: Pandemic Edition - Lessons Learned Through the Eyes of a Teacher

Intro by Liz Kent: In the past, we brought you real stories from real women about their journey of motherhood. These stories provide support to others, speak to those who feel alone and normalize many challenges of motherhood. 2020 threw us all for a loop, especially many moms and all of us at Perissos Therapy. Over this coming year, we plan to bring more real stories to you from moms and their journey through the pandemic so far. This month, Laura Zawodny, a mom and pandemic teacher shares her story.

pandemic teacher
Read the inspiring journey of Laura Zawodny, a pandemic teacher and mom, as she navigates the challenges of parenting and teaching during COVID-19.

When I think about everything that has happened in my life since March 2020 it almost feels unreal that so much could have happened in 10 months. The pandemic has made time feel different. Did this year go by fast or slow? Either way, it was a tough year for everyone that was full of unexpected events. I think most parents would agree that parenting during a pandemic is a whole other beast! It’s tough raising tiny humans; add a pandemic into the mix and you’ve got yourself a nice ball of stress. Being stuck in your home with not many places to go on repeat for months on end weighs on you. I certainly have fond memories of the last year but they are mixed in with all of the changes and heartbreak that occurred.

Toward the beginning of the pandemic, my family moved out of Baltimore, the place I called home for nearly 12 years. It was very weird to move during a shutdown. Even though our move was less than 30 minutes away, we wanted to do all of our favorite things in Baltimore before the move but that was nearly impossible to do because of the restrictions. I still miss our life in Baltimore and the pandemic has made it really hard to meet people in our new neighborhood. Most people aren’t looking for new friends right now. My son does Kindergarten virtually and fortunately, he is doing really well but he lacks the social interaction in-person school provides. One good thing to come from all of this extra time at home is how close he and his little sister have become. They are truly best buddies. I remind myself that this is all temporary and life will get closer to normal soon enough. It may not feel temporary and some days feel so incredibly long but I try to look for that light at the end of this very long tunnel. I am hopeful this summer will bring new friendships as we inch our way back to normal.

I also returned to teaching after three years of child-rearing leave. The adjustment from full-time stay-at-home mama to full-time virtual teacher, which was like learning a new career, has had its fair share of challenges but it has gone better than I expected. Teaching from home is certainly not something I ever in a million years thought would be possible but here I am teaching kids how to read over the computer, spending my lunch breaks working out and seeing my son throughout the day. My days of being a virtual teacher are numbered and while it is no walk in the park I am trying to cherish the positives that come with it.

The biggest stressor of this past year was the loss of my pregnancy in October. We were so excited to welcome a third baby into our family and were crushed when the words, “I can’t find the heartbeat” were said as I sat alone in the exam room. My husband also could not come with me when I had my scheduled D&C the following week nor could he sit with me in the ER two days later when I had an infection due to complications from the surgery. I had to spend two days in the hospital hooked up to IV antibiotics alone except for the one short visit where my husband was allowed to bring me my personal items. The whole experience was traumatic, and my grief is still very real. Every day gets better and fortunately, I am okay physically but the loss of that baby has left a little hole in my heart. Having it happen during COVID-19 and going through so much of it alone added another layer of pain. While I have friends and family who have been very supportive, a miscarriage still feels very isolating. I found it therapeutic to talk about the miscarriage and to also connect with other women who have experienced loss.

I have tried to make sense of everything that has happened in this past year but what I have come to realize is that, to put it simply, life is hard and not everything makes sense. We need to give ourselves grace and sometimes step back and look at how much COVID has impacted our lives. This is not easy and we don’t have to pretend like we have it all together. It’s okay to not be okay some days. Have my kids had way too much screen time since this pandemic began? Yep, and I will not let that stress me out because some days may be full-on survival mode to make it to bedtime. I have tried to prioritize my health and well-being throughout the pandemic. For me that is exercising regularly, getting in self-care when I can, and if I need a good cry I let myself have that good cry. On those days when I have severe COVID fatigue I continue to work on being grateful for all the amazing things that I have in my life.


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