New Low Standard


We’ve made it to August of 2020, and we all deserve a medal. The parents. The kids. The teachers. The health care workers. The grocery store clerks. The first responders. The house cats. No person or creature will be left out. Medals for EVERYONE. Because this month, season, year. Wow. I had no idea it would be like this. I thought we’d close for a few weeks, maybe a month, and that would be it. But here we are, five months later, and my parenting (and all of my adulting, for that matter) has reached standards lower than I ever thought possible. 

I used to joke, “With the first baby, I need a qualified babysitter. One with experience and training. By the time I had two kids, and was desperate to be alone, all I cared about was someone qualified enough to keep them alive.”

And here we are in 2020, and that’s the only goal I have as a parent as well: keep them alive. 

I want you to read that again, in whichever way you didn’t read it the first time. Because your current state of mind will dictate which way you read it the first time. 

Interpretation One: The only goal I have as a parent these days is to keep them alive. The house is messy, the screens have no limits, they wear pajamas to play outside, they sleep when they feel like it, and I am just barely scraping by in terms of my sanity. Yes, you can have more snacks. Yes, you can go around the block again. Yes, we can dye your hair. Yes, you can get in bed with me and watch Hamilton for the 8,645th time. My parenting has become only about survival and love. 

Saying yes is easy because the NO is a constant neon sign hovering above our heads. 

Outside, outside, outside. We only go places outside.

Interpretation Two: The only goal I have as a parent these days is to keep them alive. You are 19 times more likely to get the virus if you are indoors. We must not go anywhere public indoors. You must wear a mask. You must stay six feet away. You must not touch the neighbors. Please, for the love of all things, try to keep your distance! No, you can’t come with me to the store. No, you can’t go to the pool. No, you can’t go to school next month. [Sigh. Sob.] My parenting has become about SURVIVAL and LOVE. 

Saying no is the hardest thing I have ever done as a parent because saying YES might be a mistake I can never recover. 

Computers or workbooks, we’re just trying to be comfortable.

This dichotomy is exhausting. I am crying now, but I was laughing ten minutes ago. I’ll laugh again when I leave this desk and go find my kids. Then I’ll cry again later. This cycle will continue for at least another ten months, as I anticipate my kids staying home not just this fall, but all year. We will survive. And we will SURVIVE. I didn’t ever think my standards for parenting would be so low, but I also never thought they would be so incredibly real. 

As you make your decisions on YES or NO, your family is in my prayers. If you don’t survive or SURVIVE, then we will hold you up and love you. Everyone gets a medal.

2020 is the first time I agree with participation awards.

We’ve got to acknowledge and appreciate how excruciatingly hard this is. For all people. No matter what hard yeses and nos they have to utter to their kids. 


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Emily is a former communication teacher and speech coach. She earned her BST and MA in Communication Studies, both from MSU, Mankato. When her first child was born (Olivia, now 9), she took an extended maternity leave that turned resignation. When her second child (Nathan, 6) started kindergarten, she returned to work to teach Oula Dance Fitness at the Y and serve her church as their Congregational Services Coordinator. In her spare time, Emily enjoys drinking wine in the bathtub, painting and writing lovely things, and trying not to swear in front of her kids.


  1. This resonates with me so much. Thank you for sharing this post. You get a medal for saying it all out loud! Best wishes.

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