Part One: I Really Like This and I DO NOT LIKE This
By Emily Kane, Flexable COO
As I was re-reading this piece last week from the Globe & Mail about white-collar burnout in this leg of the pandemic, I was just starting to feel it setting in myself. Like a lot of fortunate people, I’ve been working from home with three school-aged children here since March 2020 and balancing the work of facilitating a learning pod. We are safe. We are relatively physically healthy (I’ve been dealing with the leftovers of long covid since April 2020), we have enough to eat, we have stable housing, and stable access to remote education & socialization for our kids. And my partner and I are both moving through a fresh and somewhat unexpected wave of burnout.
The sun is out. The weather is gorgeous and the kids are loving sprinkler time. We are both getting regular exercise and enough sleep. Each of us boosted our antidepressants a few months ago to support our emotional health. WHAT is up??
Sometimes you do everything by the book and shit still stinks. That’s what’s up. Sometimes life is going relatively, comparatively well for you compared to your peers and it’s still kinda garbage-town. Having the nicest situation in garbage-town isn’t exactly a long-term sustainable situation. I have a lot of pent up tears to cry that have been accumulating since January and I know I’ll need more & different opportunities to release them than I’ve had.
So I was meant to be writing a blog post for Flexable about the learning pod I built at our house this school year. It is really bad-ass and hype-worthy and I’m also not feeling it AT. ALL.
There was so much labor that went into our learning pod being possible and the dominant portions of my psyche have passively deleted the memories of all of that work. Maybe because it was socially invisible? Maybe because I didn’t document it on Instagram? Possibly because I am so full of survivor’s guilt about my kids being okay right now that I just want to hide in shame for having the resources to pull this off? (Like I said, my brain space right now is in burnout.) I’m grateful for what I was able to do for my family. I’m also embarrassed that we could. I’m also pissed off that I had to. Many feelings. All at once.
When a mom builds a tiny school in her basement and no one is there to issue her a paycheck for completing the job, does it make a sound?
Because I have a fancy title at work and I have access to this blog as an outlet, I am going to show you what I pulled together for our pod. I did not clean up for you. Before I do, I want to state several things plainly:
– I think EVERY American family & caregiver should have been enabled to access effective, covid-safe education and socialization for the children in their care. As someone who follows the evolution of Modern Monetary Theory and has lived a career with an up-front view of the total market failure of American childcare, I call nonsense at any suggestion that it wasn’t possible to execute on that idea. We got to a vaccine (neigh, multiple vaccines) in record-setting time. We couldn’t figure out how to adequately educate and care for our nation’s children? NO. We just didn’t collectively care enough to bother to direct a realistic level of resource investment to that goal. It literally wasn’t a priority. Nothing new there. Old news.
– I am extremely uncomfortable and even have a sense of shame (yes I’m in therapy, also expensive and difficult to access) around the resources I have at my disposal at a time when SO MANY people are in such incredible distress. I’m an old millennial. It is no longer the median experience to be my age in this country and be able to afford homeownership, to raise children, and to access healthcare. I’m not special and there is no specially-special reason I should have access to these things that others do not. It’s not a merit badge. It’s a symptom of a fundamentally inequitable market economy where the game is rigged and my family has benefitted over several generations.
– The labor I put into creating this pod and the way that labor is perceived, valued, and assigned speaks to so many other dynamics taking place in our culture that I am pretty pissed off about. My pod is cool. It’s been good to us. I swear I’m going to let you see some of the stuff that’s happened here as inspo. I had years of education and experience in how to make something like this ahead of the pandemic. It’s good stuff pulled together in a crisis by a person with some expertise. And, please know that all over our country caregivers who have been persistently undervalued and marginalized by both identity and as a consequence of taking on feminized labor roles are doing this ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL work with minimal financial reward, future earning potential, or security.
I have the nicest house in garbage-town. Carework is exceptionally difficult to do, regardless of whether it’s being done poorly or well. I wish I lived in a place where we all understood and valued that.
More on the components of our learning pod to come…
Read other blog posts from Flexable.