Family Of The Future: The House-Mansfield Family
As the pandemic began, Melanie House-Mansfield, pictured with husband William, continued to be a high school theater instructor, as well as provide preschool activities and speech therapy protocols for her 4-year-old son, Israel.
One day, the history books will include paragraphs about the global pandemic of 2020 — how economies were impacted and how many people were sickened and died. But what may be left out in these general overviews of how the world changed is what steps individual families took to adapt and adjust to life in quarantine and under social distancing strategies. In 2020, the picture of how the family of the future will live is currently being redrawn.
HOUSE-MANSFIELD FAMILY: STEPPING UP THROUGH CHAOS
During COVID-19, teachers have been tasked with not only continuing instruction of their students online but with trying to balance the education of their own children as well. Melanie House-Mansfield has continued to be a high school theater instructor, as well as provide preschool activities and speech therapy protocols for her 4-year-old son, Israel. All of this would be quite a balancing act on its own, but she is also the primary caretaker of her mother, Amelia Blossom Pegram, who has dementia and is now in rehab following a fall shortly before quarantining began. Melanie and her husband, William, have been living in her mother’s house while also trying to supervise renovations to their condo, which was vandalized prior to the pandemic.
What do your days look like?
I get up at 7am. I’ll fix some stuff for when my son wakes up; I can give it to him so that will occupy him for a while. I get online and have set office hours. I’m grading papers, texting students, creating things for them to do, and I’m on Google Meets. I also field phone calls and do age-appropriate school with Israel.
William, Melanie, and Israel House-Mansfield.
Are you able to get any alone time?
At this point, we have to steal time. Sometimes it takes saying, “Mommy or Daddy is in the vacation room,” (a small room that we have) and one of us becomes the primary. You do have to take time for yourself, but at this point, it is the time to step up. It feels to me like how homesteading might have been, when people were hacking it out and doing the things they needed to do to survive.
What does family time look like?
We carve out time to be around one of our neighbors who we’ve known for a long time and who knows my mom. He lost his wife not too long ago. We’ve done cookouts where people are sitting on chairs in their own areas. You have to socially distance but socially connect at the same time. We go for walks; the neighbors look forward to seeing Israel as we walk in the neighborhood.
Your position at your school has been overstaffed, and you’re uncertain about where your mother will go after rehab. How do you manage this uncertainty during the uncertainty of a pandemic?
I know that I’ll get the call as to where I’ll be [teaching] next year because my school is overstaffed. We will have to find a place for mom; we will figure it out as a family. My mom was exiled from South Africa during the apartheid regime and ended up in England. She was able to be an actress and a teacher. If my mom can make it through all those unknowns, I can, too. Faith plays a part in it, too.