Paper No. 175-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM
PANDEMIC PARENTING: REALITY, RESILIENCE, AND NEW RESEARCH DIRECTIONS
The year 2020 shook the world like no other in recent history. Working parents, like everyone else, had to suddenly adapt to a new normal but with the added responsibilities of caregiving while working from home as daycares and schools closed their doors. Parents of young children, and mothers in particular, struggled the most in having to choose which balls to let drop because it became impossible to do everything. To constantly ‘pivot’ was expected and nearly every aspect of life indeed required readjustment. As a faculty member, I quickly learned new technology necessary for instruction, re-imagined how to move my courses online, and repeatedly relied on the support of many communities both for my work and in my role as a mom. The catastrophic crisis of the pandemic, much like major disruptions in Earth history, effectively pressed the ‘reset’ button, or at least in part, where rules and routines in our lives were drastically changed, and a new modes of survival were necessary to persevere. Thinking strategically, maximizing efficiency, re-prioritizing under new circumstances, and deciding if opportunities could be seized or must be declined became critical, especially as the days without childcare became weeks, months, and more. The stories shared here come from my experiences as a working mom of young children who were home with me for well over a year during the pandemic. Time to go to the lab was limited; extended fieldwork was not an option. Studying modern marine biota and fossils, as per my expertise, needed to be put on hold. Fortunately, an opportunity to shift into work on land snails and slugs came to my attention, and I embarked on my own pandemic ‘pivot’ in research, and one that could be done while caring for kids as they journeyed with me outdoors for data collection. Accompanied by the citizen science app iNaturalist and in creating the project Atlanta SLIME, modeled after the original project with that name in Los Angeles, we sought to better understand the diversity and distribution of terrestrial gastropods in our city. This growing research direction has solidified new collaborations, led to multiple student projects and awards, inspired questions about urbanization given native and non-native species observed, and has resulted in the documentation of several new species previously not reported in the state of Georgia.