Focus On: Jen Schlegelmilch & Family

I am a divorced mom with three boys. Life happens and the unexpected is always scary and overwhelming. Nothing is ever going to happen the way we expect and this is certainly extreme, but other than some panic over my new gray hair and my new passion for snacking throughout the day, we are holding up okay. I have very elderly grandparents whom I’m mostly worried about and keeping the kids safe and away from others can be tricky. I remember thinking September 11 would be the most surreal and crazy thing I ever lived through, but this is definitely coming close. 

I remember thinking September 11 would be the most surreal and crazy thing I ever lived through, but this is definitely coming close.

I am an ESL teacher at The Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport. I am working from home and have recently been promoted to ‘principal’ of our homeschool situation. The teachers here in Westport are incredible, though, and we are so grateful to even have the ability and resources to homeschool. I miss my own ESL students and my work so much. I am very worried about my students right now, but I am so grateful to my boss that I can be at home right now with my kids. 

Homeschool is hard and I realize we take for granted the way we come and go to stores and restaurants. It’s been very hard for my kids not to have their sports. Having real routines and taking our pajamas off is really challenging especially since this “school principal” is very difficult and snacks way too much!  I also really miss seeing my parents and other people. That’s been a big adjustment–not seeing people, other adults, can feel isolating and a little scary 

I think it’s important to live one day at a time and that’s very hard for me because I am worrier and a single parent, but the chance to hit reset button hard at home and work closely with my kids is truly a blessing. We are trying to be creative (and patient!) by spending lot of time outside, doing projects, cooking and baking, and playing a lot of monopoly! And eating a ridiculous amount of snacks. I’m trying to keep us on a regular schedule that gets us into schoolwork and chores in the morning and leaves the afternoon to breathe and spend time outside. 

Our community is amazing, including this awesome project which we are so excited to participate in. We are so unique as a town and so lucky to live here and have our schools. Westport is truly a creative and artistic place to live. I have really wonderful neighbors and it feels really special to be around people who are so thoughtful and protective of each other. We are SO grateful for the doctors, nurses, police, fire department, and everyone out there on the front lines and that includes the awesome teachers here in Westport making homeschool happen! 

I believe it has made our community and, I think, my family stronger but I truly hope this situation ends soon. There’s been something about having time for long walks and science projects, actual time to build a boat or drop an egg off the roof without rushing for a game or practice or school, that feels like a gift and a massive reminder to live in the present. I hope we remember the time as a family unit and how we worked together. 

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To read more of the museums long lens oral histories please visit the Westport In Focus page.