Parenting is always a challenge; parenting many children is like being an air-traffic controller. Now with the COVID-19 crisis, while parents and children are largely staying at home, balancing home, school, and work is even more complicated.
This week on The Times of Israel Podcast, host Amanda Borschel-Dan, a mother of six and full-time journalist, speaks with two US-based Jewish mothers on how life has and has not changed for them as parents.
We start with Washington, DC-area conservative columnist Bethany Mandel, who recently wrote a JTA op-ed, “We’re all Jewish homeschoolers now. Let’s build on that.” Mandel has four children, only one of whom is old enough for primary school, but all of whom are being included in the homeschooling adventures.
“I’ve always been sort of an evangelist for Jewish homeschooling and no one really cared and it was this drum that I was beating silently, in the middle of the woods,” Mandel laughed. “And then all of a sudden, all this stuff happened and I was suddenly very popular.”
Mandel sees the current situation as an opportunity to ameliorate the current Jewish day school crisis, whose hefty fees are a form of “birth control,” she said. “People are having fewer Jewish children because of the cost of day school education,” she claimed, saying that her local day school costs circa $20,000-25,000.
She said that whereas once her peers viewed her as a freak, now they see her as “an oracle.”
Next we hear from Kveller columnist and “Call Your Mother” podcaster Jordana Horn. Horn, who is based in New Jersey, and Israel-based Borschel-Dan joke that since they each have six kids in basically the same age spread — 16 until 5 — they’re almost alter egos. It’s a schmooze years in the making, and one that was meant to have occurred in person a few months ago, but was canceled along with most international flights.
As a mother of six, “you feel a bit like a marionette,” said Horn, being pulled in all direction.
Horn’s kids are all in one form of online learning or another, and the two compare the challenges involved with that — on both sides of the ocean.
Horn also shares the challenges the family underwent when her 92-year-old father-in-law died at the end of March. The family had an extremely small funeral and sat shiva online, which Horn describes as a “surreal and weird” experience.
“The one [physical] contact was the dirt hitting the coffin,” said Horn. “It feels dreamlike” to go through mourning in a virtual world.
The pair discuss Mother’s Day and why breakfast in bed is not all that when prepared by first graders. And how one day, they’ll be able to use the bathroom without interruptions.
Check out another recent Times of Israel Podcast:
Way before most people in the world had even heard the word “coronavirus,” the staff at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center were getting trained on what to do in case the pandemic made it to Israel.
On this episode of The Times of Israel Podcast, emergency room nurse Zippy Goodman, who has spent the past several months on the COVID-19 frontlines, explains how her hospital took swift, start-up Israel measures to meet immediate and changing needs.