Right here’s How I am Getting ready My Household for a Digital World—Once more
My hopes of dropping my kids off at school, avoiding pointless commuting, and eating alone at a desk that isn’t in my bedroom all seem to be disappearing. With so much ongoing uncertainty about the delta variant of the coronavirus, I’m afraid to ponder what this fall and winter will be like. Because I’m not sure if any of us working parents can withstand a 2020 continuation.
So I squat down again. After meeting friends in person for a few weeks, I retire to the corner of my bedroom. Cancel all social plans. It is unclear if and when I can return to the office. The new work clothes I bought in anticipation of being swapped for Zoom tops are far, far away.
I’m reluctant to prepare to go back to work as my company’s Chief Entertainment Officer (CEO). I quietly dismantle the bunker made of handicrafts and snacks. Gone are the days when paper towels, detergents, and toilet paper were hoarded in bulk. Late in the evening, I leaf through the pages in search of the CEO’s most important things: bags of goldfish, fruit snacks, and Pirate’s Booty. Together with construction paper, paint, craft glue and glue sticks as well as bags with craft pens, beads and feathers. The hoarding has started. I’ll be fully stocked, enough to open my own craft shop, I’m sure of that. Because this time I refuse to be unprepared.
Since I collected scented stickers, googly eyes and granola bars, I also made the decision to finally retire the wobbly, worn IKEA desk my kids grew out of. This time I expect the unexpected and don’t leave anything to chance. I went for a massive upgrade with a Kana Pro bamboo high bar table that my kids can study on that is big enough for both of them to be used together. Cross your fingers that it will withstand splashes, pencil markings, and all pandemic tantrums, including kicking your legs and hitting your fists on the table in case we return to virtual class.
While my kids were working on an IKEA table with a taped leg, I was working from the corner of my bedroom. For the past 17 months, I’ve attended meeting after meeting from an old, scratched white folding table – one that my husband, I believe, used to play beer pong when he was a student. For 17 months I denied that I had to set up a “real” work from home. Because that couldn’t last forever. So as I prepare for the unexpected this fall, I got the same desk that my kids use. It’s time to work like an adult and use a desk that fits me and can hold my laptop, notebook and coffee mug at the same time. I know how crazy.
I spent a little extra bucks and bought baskets to put all of my chargers, extra pens, and post-its under my desk. I asked for my work to finally send me a new headset. I stole some of my kids’ mini kit kats and Hershey bars that Grandma gave me and put them under my new desk too. The kids don’t need the sugar, but I’ll do it as I prepare for endless cups of coffee and chocolate to get through Zoom marathon meetings. I’m also preparing to eventually have to help them manage the school’s myriad Zoom links again. I send many prayers to all of the working parents out there in the hope of a better start to this school year.
And for the finishing touches, I hung some of my children’s works of art right above my new desk. Proudly presented in my new workplace, exactly one centimeter from our bed: “Love you, Mama!” “You are the best!” and “Thanks for the biggest hugs!” Finally, a big sign from my daughter that says: “I miss you!”
It is said that absence makes the heart leap. I hope that I have a chance to miss them – and that they have a chance to miss me. The good old days when I came home from work in the evening or surprised them at school when they ran into me.
Right now I’m preparing for the screams from the kitchen. “Mom, zoom doesn’t work!” And “Mom, hurry up, we run out of goldfish!” This time, don’t worry, mom is prepared. We have enough goldfish to feed the whole neighborhood.
Mita Mallick is Head of Inclusion, Equity and Impact at Carta and loves living in Jersey City with her husband and two young children.