Coronaparenting: My First Time Working in One Place by Ori Lenkinski
*originally published in Hebrew in Haaretz
Spring and summer 2020 were meant to be my seasons. Professionally, that is. I had booked more performances in more places than I ever had before. A solo I made started to take off while some other productions I participate in continued to thrive. I was meant to tour to six different locations abroad with these shows. In my life as a journalist, things were also going well. I was going to be on television, publish countless articles including interviews with incredible artists.
In an instant, all those plans went out the window as we shut our doors and locked ourselves inside for the foreseeable future.
I went from being a freelancer, a choreographer, dancer, journalist, teacher, text consultant and a few other things to the director of a modest, mixed-aged home school.
And the strange thing that I am experiencing these days is relief.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my jobs. But this is the first time since becoming a mother that I haven’t had to choose between work and family.
Everyone knows that having a career and children requires a daily balancing act. Some days are more successful and some, less.
When I say goodnight to my girls during their bath and head to the theater, I feel torn. When I pack a little suitcase and go abroad for a festival, I always wonder if it’s really worth it. Everything comes at a price. Every show is a night I’m not home. Every tour is days I won’t see them in their pajamas, won’t kiss them, won’t make their breakfast or be there if something goes wrong.
Extracting myself from my home life is challenging and, as a person who is genetically predisposed to gigantic bouts of guilt, the ride to the airport or the theater or wherever is always rife with doubt. No matter the time of day, whenever I fly alone, I immediately fall asleep when seated on the plane. The force of ejecting myself from my life is so exhausting, my body and mind need a cat nap to catch up.
Each and every time I say goodbye to them, each time I miss something, even it’s as simple as a pickup from school or gan, I reassure myself. I chose all of this. I chose to work in a field that is volatile, exciting and unstable and I chose to bring two people into the world. I believe in the possibility of doing all of it and enjoying it to boot. I believe in the necessity I feel to be a mother and to achieve professionally but, in these quiet days, I am acutely aware of how much I had been asking of myself, how much we all had been asking of ourselves.
When this all started, when I realized that whatever was in my calendar was now irrelevant, a small weight lifted. It is the first time in my life that I’ve had one workplace. My job is to keep us sane, fed, engaged, relaxed and entertained. I don’t have to go anywhere to do it.
It’s also the first time I’ve stayed home with my kids without comparing myself to my colleagues.
During maternity leave, every Facebook post was another colleague killing it professionally, on tour, having premieres, doing amazing collaborations. I counted myself blessed to have time to spend with my newborns but that nagging noise from the outside world crept in and created this background static. “I should be writing more, I should be thinking of my next project, I should be applying to festivals, I should do this, that or another thing.”
Now, the entire world is stuck in place. No one is going anywhere. That buzzing noise that usually permeates from out there through my screens and into my mind is off. What is left is what I am left with; my family, my modest apartment, the foods we cook and activities we can conjure up. Like most jobs, some days are better than others. Some days the girls go with the flow and get on board with all my alternative “classes”. Some days, like yesterday, I am told that everything I plan is “bad” or “boring.” But I am here, and I am not thinking of what else I need to be doing because I can’t do anything else and that simple fact is strangely freeing.