COVID, School, and the Mommy Wars


Most area schools seem to be planning to release their plans for the 2020-2021 school year this week, so school choice (virtual, blended, hybrid, traditional, home school, and every other version you can think of) is even more of a hot topic than usual among moms of school-age kids. And rightly so, as the decision as to how to educate a child or children is among the most critical choices parents make.

In the best of times, moms get riled up about school choice. We all have opinions and everyone seems to think their way is the best. I’m guilty too. Add in a global pandemic, and the level of angst, emotion, stress, and even panic regarding school decisions is about fifteen notches higher than usual. Cue the mommy wars, where we all compare our way of cooking, crafting, home hair cutting, (not) limiting screen time, and yes, schooling to one another and hate on the way that other mom is doing it.

School choice is not a moral decision.

I’m a scientist, my husband is a teacher, and I’ve got lots of thoughts about school re-openings. I think my reasons for my opinion (which I won’t be sharing here) are well thought out, based on high quality scientific data, and also realistic, but many people I love and respect disagree and have other well thought out and reasonable plans and opinions. Here’s the deal: the schooling method we choose is not a moral decision. Hybrid is not right, home school is not wrong, traditional is not best, and virtual is not better. They are different, yes, and we are all entitled to choose (and let us rejoice that we have choice), but one is not right and others are not wrong.

I love a good debate and I’m all for standing up for what you believe in, but this particular issue in the mommy wars is not worth falling on a sword over. In fact, if we all put down our swords and stopped swinging them at each other (i.e. How could you send your child to school in a mask?! Don’t you think it’s important for your child to have social interaction?! I have to work; must be nice to stay home to teach your kids . . .), maybe we could teach our kids something truly valuable.

I have good news.

We can post cute graphics indicating that “We’re all in this together” to our social media pages and wear “be kind” t-shirts, but I think the vast majority of moms in this country would agree that the mommy wars are alive and well. There are certainly issues that are worth debating, because our children learning the difference between right and wrong is at stake. But how we teach them multiplication and phonics does not fit in this category.

So rejoice, Mamas. There’s freedom to choose what works for you and your kid, or just to pick what you like, or even to flip a coin if you so choose. Your neighbor, your sister, and your best friend can all choose something different and both of your choices can be excellent decisions. If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is.

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Mallory grew up in Oklahoma, met her husband Dave in college there, and they have lived in Maryland, Michigan, and now Alabama since getting married in 2008. She graduated from Michigan State University with a PhD in exercise physiology in 2014, and her family then moved to Birmingham so she could start a job as a college professor. She is mom to five great kids ages nine and under, and considers it a tremendous joy to get to invest in the lives of both her kids and her students. In her free time, Mallory enjoys family walks around the neighborhood, reading to her kids, bargain hunting, home improvement projects, and being involved in the children’s and missions ministries at her church.