With our new normal, everything is jumbled together. I find myself struggling to remember which persona to present. Last week, in a ZOOM meeting, I turned a profound and serious comment someone made into a song. At home, I asked my children to join me in deciding what to make for dinner, using collaboration strategies I employ at work. And while I believe I can still balance this; I had not really thought about how my kids were managing. I mean, don’t they have a home and “work” persona as well?
As I watch my 12-year-old try to navigate these overlapping domains, I am realizing that he, too, has been tasked with balancing his world in new and complicated ways. The boy he was at school with his friends is very different from who he is with us. The lines are blurry for him now too. He cannot head out of the door in the morning and put on his school self, just as I cannot switch to work mode by getting into my car and driving away from home. He is being challenged to merge his two personas or ignore one for the other. And at 12, I cannot imagine how difficult this must be.
I am so grateful to have had this realization, as winter is wearing on us, and virtual learning is becoming more challenging for our kids. With this new awareness, I can find ways to help my teens navigate their school and home personas without asking them to forego one for another. I can try to give them space and privacy while in school. I can show more grace when the two personas merge, and they address me like one of their peers instead of their mom. And I can talk to them about how I am sharing the same struggles, and how I am working to balance my own work with my home life. I can try to normalize the situation, so that this does not become another burden my teens must carry while they try to thrive despite the odds.