What New Normal? This Is My Life

Drayton Jackson | April 21, 2020 | Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents

I have found that what many people are calling the new “normal” (e.g. sheltered in place, job, and food insecurities) are what my family and I struggle with daily. Trying to be a student, a parent, and an everyday good human being, is sometimes tested with the pressures of work life, family issues, and trying to complete personal goals.

We receive food stamps to buy food and going to the food bank is our monthly norm to make up for food we lack toward the end of the month. However, now with more people going there for help and with social distancing, the food banks we go to are giving people prepared bags of food. Even though we are grateful for it, the change has caused us to receive food that we do not eat (i.e. beef, pork, pasteurized milk). We give these items we don’t use to our neighbors.

One of the fears my family and I face is that I am asthmatic, which makes me more susceptible to the coronavirus and high risk for severe symptoms. I am very optimistic that my daily routine of whisky and brandy in the past has hopefully built my resistance, but in all honesty, I am very serious about protecting myself and my family and I take my medications regularly as prescribed by my doctor.

As I sit on the school board for my district, I grapple with watching parents that normally drop their children off at the bus stop and go about their day, struggling to keep themselves and their children occupied. I have been able to help many parents because of my experience with homeschooling this past year and a half. The decisions we are making, as a school board for our district, have been very challenging to say the least. I have had conversations with parents that have the means to educate their children during this time with paid online courses, not understanding why equal education is important to move our children forward together.

I do miss being around people; I miss socializing although I am not a people person. It’s the people’s energy that I miss. At the forefront of my mind is advocating and solving the world’s problem of homelessness and poverty because living through it myself and with my family, I don’t want to see people struggle. I want to fix the problem.

I miss watching sports. Sports have always been my outlet to take my mind off the problems that we go through. I find it weird that although I am not a true basketball fan I missed March Madness.

I don’t want to seem like things are all gloomy. 

What is good is we have the internet for now. We already homeschool our oldest son and internet access is mandatory. But unfortunately, we were behind on our payments and the internet was cut off. Now, because of the shelter in place ordinance, Comcast has given all customers in our area free internet access for two months and we have a reprieve to pay it off.  

I thank God that a friend brought our boys a PlayStation 4 last year for Christmas. Before the library closed in my community, I was able to check out 40 books for each of us, 10 PS4 games, and 20 DVDs to watch. I have gotten further in some video games on the Playstation as well as getting beat by both of my sons in others. Having both of my sons brag about beating me has tested my emotions in competition. Now, we are enjoying binge watching television shows (FYI… do not watch any zombies or alien movies during this time… just saying).

But for real though, my sons have enjoyed having all of us at home at the same time. A special joy both my wife and I are experiencing is the extra one-on-one learning time at home with my youngest son, which I believe he is benefiting from. 

The other joy is being able to talk to people that I normally do not talk to enough, such as my mother in Maryland, my cousin here in Washington State, and other people that I have the time to sit back and think about now.

We are hopeful that after all of this, our jobs will bring us back to work, and that school for my wife and our son will continue. I hope that for those who are experiencing this as their new “normal,” that you understand for others this is our normal. My family and I shelter in place every day because we have to. Most of the time we don’t have money to go anywhere to enjoy a day out as a family. 

Like every other major challenge in this world, from tsunamis, earthquakes, terrorism, or snowstorms, we will all come out of this. Some will be left, some will be saved, and some will have continued on. However, memories, future, promises, and experiences are what we cherish.

Drayton Jackson is a member of the Central Kitsap School District Board of Directors and an Ascend Parent Advisor supporting the Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative.

Related Posts

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is excited to announce the launch of the 2023 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund, which will provide financial resources and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations and institutions focused on increasing postsecondary success among parents.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJuly 20, 2023
A collection of different photos featuring Christian Ortiz, his daughter, and his mother
Reflections on the experiences, challenges, and joys that shape the life of student father and Ascend PSP Parent Advisor Christian Ortiz.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJune 16, 2023
Cover of the digital chartbook, "We Are Here Too: Who Are the 1 Million Fathers in College?". A student father in a graduation cap and gown is seated with his son and daughter, smiling.
Among the one in five postsecondary students who are parents, there are close to 1.1 million student fathers. This chartbook synthesizes the available research on student fathers to help inform the field’s efforts to support the success of all student parents.
Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsJune 16, 2023
Cover of the digital chartbook, "We Are Here Too: Who Are the 1 Million Fathers in College?". A student father in a graduation cap and gown is seated with his son and daughter, smiling.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children.
Press ReleasesJune 16, 2023
On May 9, members of the Ascend team had the opportunity to visit Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico. Here are three takeaways from our site visit.
Ascend NetworkJune 14, 2023
In an Inside Higher Ed article, David Croom and Generation Hope provide important perspective into why the student parent population is important for higher education institutions to prioritize.
Media MentionsMay 9, 2023
Photo of student parent Waukecha Wilkerson with her family at her graduation ceremony.
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children.
Press ReleasesMay 3, 2023
Photo of Isis Patterson and her family
Growing up, Isis Patterson and her family were constantly operating in survival mode. School offered her the safety and security she lacked at home, so she took a liking to it. When she found out she was pregnant at 15, she kept herself immersed in her schoolwork, graduated with honors, and received a full-ride scholarship …

‘1 in 5’ Season 2 Episode 10: Meet Isis Patterson Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 25, 2023
1 in 5 Student Parent Podcast
As a child of immigrants, Lourdes saw the efforts her hard-working parents made to give her a memorable childhood, and how they always stressed the importance of education. Then, in high school, Lourdes became pregnant and the birth of her daughter inspired her aspirations for higher education, leading her to a career in nursing. As …

‘1 in 5’ Season 2 Episode 9: Meet Lourdes Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 17, 2023
Photo of Nicole Alkire Grady with her family in a park.
Nicole Alkire Grady always excelled in athletics and academics at Standing Rock High School in North Dakota. But being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse meant Nicole turned to dating, and eventually alcohol, to cope with the trauma. In high school, she became a mother and worked hard to graduate – leaning on the support …

‘1 in 5’ Season 2 Episode 8: Meet Nicole Alkire Grady Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsApril 4, 2023
Photo of Generation Hope's Nicole Lynn Lewis with her five children
Today, Nicole Lynn Lewis is an accomplished author, CEO of Generation Hope, and mother of five. But she didn’t always feel a sense of stability and pride. When she arrived on campus with her three-month old daughter, she instantly felt out of place and didn’t know who to turn to for help. Her feelings of …

‘1 in 5’ Season 2 Episode 7: Learn About Generation Hope Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMarch 28, 2023
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute (Ascend) released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children.
Press ReleasesMarch 20, 2023
Dominique Baker and her family.
Dominique Baker married her high school sweetheart and planned to pursue a degree in social work, but her first semester in college proved to be both financially and mentally exhausting. As her family grew and Dominique took stock of the things she wanted for herself and her two children, she made the decision to leave …

‘1 in 5’ Season 2 Episode 6: Meet Dominique Baker Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsMarch 19, 2023
Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced that eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) have joined its Black and Native Family Futures Fund.
Press ReleasesDecember 13, 2022
Photo of Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin.
Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin was taught to always take care of those around her, but didn’t always see education as a way of doing so After dropping out of school and later finding herself incarcerated and pregnant, Yolanda became determined to change the course of her life. Once she was released, Yolanda focused on establishing a relationship …

‘1 in 5’ Season 2 Episode 5: Meet Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin Read More »

Aspen Postsecondary Success for ParentsDecember 1, 2022