Challenges forge parental perseverance


Manuel Hernandez Roman

Being a parent has a different meaning for everyone. Being a parent has been one of the best things that I could experience in life, but at the same time it is one of the most stressful. It is stressful for me not because of my daughter but because I am attending UTEP at the same time. This is my last semester, and for the longest time I assumed I would go out smooth sailing. However, childcare is a big issue for me due to the pandemic.  

In 2020 my family faced a great loss. My grandfather contracted the virus and spent the holidays in the ICU and shortly after, he passed away. We never lived down the severity of the pandemic, but we also never understood that everyone could be affected by it. Something important to me was to make sure all my family was vaccinated. In 2021, we achieved vaccination across all relatives. Fall of 2021 arrived sooner than I expected it to. In the Summer I left my job to be able to care for my daughter full-time while I enrolled in online classes. I am sure that all students longed to return to campus, and I did too. Something I never took into consideration was that I would no longer be able to care for my daughter all the time. My girlfriend and I discussed endlessly the idea of childcare since she works all day. It is not a bad idea, but the statistics speak for themselves. 

According to the Dallas’ leading news channel, WFAA, hundreds of COVID-19 cases are being reported daily in childcare facilities as of August 27th. These statistics terrify me. I could not live with myself if my daughter fell sick. Though the numbers differ, these new cases in children are not exclusive to Dallas. Though many say otherwise, the pandemic in El Paso is not over yet. Some parents do not have a choice, childcare allows parents with young children to carry on with their lives. I was lucky enough to have a second option.  

My mother volunteered to help me. At first, I was reluctant since my young siblings live with her and they have returned to school. The fact that we are all vaccinated puts my mind at ease a little. Another factor is her location. I live next to Trans Mountain, and my mother lives in Horizon City. Beggars can’t be choosers, so I overlooked everything and began to take my daughter with her every day that I have class. Four times a week I make my way to her house and back to campus. Once I am done at peak traffic time, I do the same to go back home. In total I commute about 3 hours every four days out of the week. At the end of the day, I scramble to make sure I am not falling behind with my course work. My worries do not come down while I am in class since I miss being with my daughter, but she also loves my mother, so I ease a little knowing they are having a great time. I never would have thought that my final semester would be this difficult. I know how lucky I am, and I also know that many other students are in the same or worse situation that I am in. If we all come together and do the right thing by getting vaccinated and practicing social distancing, then maybe childcare could become a better option for us studying or working, and knowing our children are safe. 

Manuel A. Hernandez Roman is a senior digital media production student and may be reached at [email protected]