The Silver Lining of Solo Parenting During the Pandemic

Solo parenting during COVID-19 has taught me a lot.

by Dirk Van Stee
A single parent playing with his son and holding him above his chest during the pandemic

In the same way people pinpoint exactly where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated or when America was attacked on 9/11, I clearly remember where I was and what I was doing when Mayor De Blasio announced all New York City schools were closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a Sunday evening and I was preparing dinner and listening to WNYC radio when the announcement was made. My spouse works as a nurse practitioner, a position considered essential, so I knew the childcare duties would fall mostly on me. While the city hoped to reopen the schools on April 20th, the date came and went, and I remained my first-grade son’s teacher and, in addition, principal of this poorly established home-school academy.

I performed the different roles of school psychologist, gym teacher, baseball coach, and best friend at recess. We played catch outside in front of the local laundromat, had epic nerf gun battles, played games of hide and seek, and rode our bikes to the park. He loved joining my Zoom meetings as it was one of his few connections to the outside world early on and became a star with my work colleagues.

This story was submitted by a Fatherly reader. Opinions expressed in the story do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Fatherly as a publication. The fact that we’re printing the story does, however, reflect a belief that it is an interesting and worthwhile read.

Dirk Van Stee is a university administrator based in Queens, New York. His son, Grant, is seven.