Meredith Masony is just like many of you. She’s been in her house with her three children for months now.
"At no point was I ever prepared to parent through a pandemic," she says. "I never watched ’The Walking Dead.’"
It went from trying to do school and work from home with a very full house to missing out on summer fun like camps and trips.
"It’s intense, right?" she says. "It’s crazy. Everybody wants to do things they can’t do or they are missing out on things that are promised."
Yet, Masony reminds: "How can your life be bad when you have endless Hulu, Netflix and Prime Video?"
The parenting blogger and force behind the blog and Facebook site "That’s Inappropriate" and the website FilterFreeParents.com has her second book out on Tuesday: "Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time: Inappropriate Thoughts on Motherhood" ($16, Gallery Books).
It has been almost six months of upheaval, including moving to a different Florida city in the middle of the pandemic.
"When everything shut down, we were staring at each other’s four walls," she says. The question she asked: "Is this the place we want to be for the next 10 years? If it’s not, maybe we should go."
This school year, she has one kid going into high school, one kid going into middle school and one in elementary school. It was the perfect time to move.
Both Masony and her husband, Dave, were teachers before she started writing about parenting from a place of humor and reality beginning in 2014. She became well known after writing a Facebook post about just wanting to be left alone on Mother’s Day.
This community she’s created was about making a support system she didn’t have when her kids were little. Masony would go to social media and see fellow moms’ posts and think there was something wrong with her. She wondered: Were these moms not getting pooped on every day like she was?
Her husband stopped being an assistant principal when the podcasts, videos and website with materials from other parenting writers began to take off. He now manages all the finances and the back end of the website. About 300 writers pitch her parenting stories every month, and FilterFreeParents.com runs topics on everything from birth to empty nest.
He keeps her schedule as well as the kids’ schedule of when they need to get on their virtual classrooms.
"The only thing we do have on our side is my husband is very structured, and he does not let us get away without a schedule," Masony says.
Last school year, he set up a bell schedule tied to the Alexa in their house that rings and tells the kids it’s time to go to the next class, "even though they are not going anywhere," she says.
Even with two educators as parents, don’t worry — they’re not excelling at virtual school, either.
"Your children don’t listen to you when you’re the parent, they sure don’t listen to you when you are their teacher," she says.
Masony was just told by one of her children that she didn’t know anything about yoga. "They think they are Google; they think they know everything on the planet. They assume you know nothing; they know everything."
Writing about parenting in the time of quarantine will be rich fodder for her next book. "Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time" was finished in January, before anyone could imagine that the world would shut down.
When Masony was recording the audio version, she says she audibly laughed and had to re-record the part about taking a 23-day road trip from Florida to Utah and back in 2019.
"I thought 23 days was going to do me in," she says of that trip. "It’s now been five months. Clearly you can always carry more than you think."
Now Masony thinks longingly of driving to Salt Lake City, anywhere but her house, even the new one. The family did take a two-night vacation to the beach this summer and stayed in a one-bedroom condo. She now understands the ridiculousness of that.
"This is so stupid," she says. "We left our four-bedroom house and went to a one-room house. I will not plan any more trips for us. I am not capable of making any decisions."
Masony calls parenting during a pandemic "parenting on steroids." "Every decision is having so much more weight," she says. Can your child go down the street to play with a friend or is that a virus nightmare? Can we go walk around Target for an hour just to get out of the house? (Her husband vetoed that.)
Her kids have pretty much been in their bubble at home except a short surfing camp they did in which her three kids were their entire group.
Many of the stories in "Ask Me What’s for Dinner One More Time" still ring true in this pandemic. So much spaghetti has been consumed at her house because it’s cheap and easy, and these kids demand to be fed a lot.
Masony’s still in charge of everyone’s things, and they still can’t find anything. They haven’t been anywhere, yet her husband can’t find his wallet and her kids can’t find their shoes.
She’s still begging everyone to clean up the mess, and no one owns up to having made it.
Her kids are spending a lot more time together because they are the friends they have right now. "For the most part, the kids do understand that this is the one family they get," Masony says. "Do they love each other? Yes. Do they like each other? Not so much right now."
What’s different, though? "Boy, oh, boy, did I learn some hard lessons in this and realize the perspective," she says.
Her goal for the book was to give people the raw side of parenting that most people put a filter on. Masony’s a no-filter kind of writer, video blogger and podcaster. She says she wants fellow moms to know they are not alone.
"I never knew how lonely motherhood was going to be," she says. "Now that I’ve lived that, I want to make as many moms I can feel less alone. I didn’t know you can be surrounded by people and be alone.
"The reason I get up each day and create is I want other moms to know I’m here for you. We’ve got your back."