Trying to find silver linings in a pandemic-shaped cloud

My search for serenity after weeks of crazy juggling and struggling

Forum Deputy Editor Danielle Teigen edits stories while holding her 3-month-old son as she and her family work and learn from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Danielle Teigen / The Forum

Parenting in a pandemic is hard. As in, REALLY HARD.

Back on March 11 when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, I was still basking in the last weeks of maternity leave with my third baby. I saw the headlines and read the stories, but I just kept thinking, 'Things are really bad in China and Italy. I'm glad that's not happening here."

Just one day later, the NCAA cancelled March Madness, high school tournaments shut down and colleges began telling their students not to return from spring break. By the end of that first weekend, Minnesota and North Dakota had shut down schools for the foreseeable future and everyone's lives were upended in ways we never could have imagined.

For my family, sending our older children to daycare was an option because their center has remained open, but with a 3-month-old baby with an under-developed immune system in the house, we simply weren't comfortable risking his health should someone at the center inadvertently expose our other kids.

So, we're all home and trying to work, parent, learn and survive in the midst of a global health crisis. Believe me when I say things get pretty wild and crazy around here.


But in the midst of this crazy new world we're living in, I've forced myself to identify the benefits of this situation, no matter how minuscule they may be. Like complaining about how tired I was of making meals and running the dishwasher and hand-washing pots and pans, but then immediately correcting myself by saying, "No. That means we have food to eat. I'm grateful for that."

Or, the fact that despite the increase in bickering and squabbling about toys and books, my 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter have had the sweetest (albeit rare) moments of sitting on the couch with their arms around one another as my daughter declares, in her high-pitched toddler voice, "Best friends!"

Most of all, I am trying to remind myself what a gift (yes, a gift) I have been given to spend this much additional time with my newest family member. At this point in the lives of my older children, I was happily back at work and they were safely ensconced in a loving environment at daycare with their needs being fully attended to by a staff of highly trained care takers. Now, while I bounce between emails, meetings, stories to edit and publish online, and the needs of my older children, I am also taking care of an infant who doesn't care about Zoom calls and print deadlines.

It's been crazy and stressful, to be sure, and I've had my share of meltdowns, but I've also noticed things about my baby that I might have missed or have had to learn about from his day care teachers.

Like the fact that a few weeks ago he discovered his hands, and they are now his favorite toy.

Or that he suddenly figured out how to roll onto his side or is trying to sit up when he's on his back.

And that getting him to giggle at any point of the day by making funny faces or covering him in kisses can make even the grouchiest mood evaporate instantly. Yes, I would have realized these things about him eventually, but likely not this quickly and quite possibly much later.

In the daily struggle of this new life we find ourselves in, I am clinging to those moments and trying to remind myself that when this ends, and things will go back to some semblance of the life we thought we'd be living, I will look back and see not just how hard this was, but also how special.


I mean, when else will my toddler appear on a Zoom call as news editors determine what to print in the next day's newspaper or hold a sleeping baby while also editing a breaking news story?

Danielle Teigen is deputy editor at The Forum and author of "Hidden History of Fargo." She is married and mom to three little ones.

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. She recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms.
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