Dad's pandemic poem captures the highs and lows of quarantine scare

·4 min read
Dad's pandemic poem captures the highs and lows of quarantine scare

When the going gets tough, put pen to paper… or in Yujin Chung's case, tap out a rhyme.

Chung, a 41-year-old father of two, wrote a poem, which he shared on LinkedIn, describing the rollercoaster of emotions when his family was exposed to COVID-19 and forced to quarantine for five days. To his surprise, it quickly went viral. The professional networking site even gave him a shout-out in a news post.

It's easy to see why. His rhythmic stanzas appear to have touched the nerve of working parents who, like him, are still trying to figure it all out two years into the pandemic.

PHOTO: Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that has resonated with other dads and moms. (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)
PHOTO: Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that has resonated with other dads and moms. (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)

One rhyming verse reads, "Instead of planning and work / It's playgrounds and dirt / Budgets, agendas delayed / 'Encanto' soundtrack auto replayed.

"Falling behind but trying to make up / At night or early morning, it's tough to wake up."

Chung, who lives in Mountain View, California, told "Good Morning America" his family's ordeal all started three weeks ago after he dropped his sons — Anders, 7, and Liam, 4 — off at their schools. The venture capital firm director was focusing on work when his wife frantically texted him, telling him to check his email for a notice from their 4-year-old's preschool.

PHOTO: Yujin Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that went viral. Chung's newest poem will be a birthday tribute to his eldest son, who's turning 7.  (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)
PHOTO: Yujin Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that went viral. Chung's newest poem will be a birthday tribute to his eldest son, who's turning 7. (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)

"I checked my email, and you find out, oh, yeah, they found two cases, and then you got to pick them up immediately. We got to quarantine," Chung recalled.

The gravity of the situation immediately sunk in for him and it was "really stressful."

"We bring them home and that was on a Tuesday, so we still got four days left of the week," he said. "And we're just trying to figure out, 'OK, how are we going to triage this?'"

And at the same time, he said, "Also we got to keep working on our jobs, you know?"

He's quick to acknowledge that he and his wife were lucky -- after all, they both had the option to work remotely. Even so, he said the experience was still difficult, leaving him feeling burnt out.

But, he said, "Part of me was like, I know we're not alone, because I know my friends who are parents, they're going through the same thing. I just wanted to depict a little bit of how it felt, maybe just share a little bit."

Chung said he figured people would like his post, but he never thought it would get so popular. Over 5,000 people have liked his post in the last week and one parent wrote, "I can't tell you how much I love this - just had the exact week and 'Encanto' was on steady rotation. Pretty sure I like the songs more than my four year old."

PHOTO: Anders and Liam. Yujin Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that went viral. Chung's newest poem will be a birthday tribute to his eldest son, who's turning 7.  (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)
PHOTO: Anders and Liam. Yujin Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that went viral. Chung's newest poem will be a birthday tribute to his eldest son, who's turning 7. (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)

In his poem, Chung references Disney's latest animated movie, which features an original soundtrack from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

"My son loves 'Encanto,'" Chung said of the family musical. "It's a wonderful film. And then my little one, literally, whenever we go anywhere, we have to play it, like it's meltdown city if we don't play it. But it's such a good soundtrack. I don't mind."

He added the movie's rhythm and rhymes, something Anders loves, likely influenced some of his poetry as well.

As a parent working from home, Chung told "GMA," "You can feel like you're alone, you're just stuck and it's so, so tiring, right? But hey, we're all dealing with this and it's OK."

PHOTO: Yujin Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that went viral. Chung's newest poem will be a birthday tribute to his eldest son, who's turning 7.  (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)
PHOTO: Yujin Chung, a father of two, shared a poem about parenting during the pandemic that went viral. Chung's newest poem will be a birthday tribute to his eldest son, who's turning 7. (Courtesy of Yujin Chung)

In the meantime, Chung plans to continue writing and even publishes a "Yujin's Raps & Rhymes" newsletter. For Anders' birthday this Thursday, he also wrote a new poem, highlighting his "very sweet kid's" kindness and big heart.

For others looking to pursue their own poetry, Chung says to embrace the hobby and go for it.

"It's a wonderful habit to have. I think the nice thing about poetry too, especially as a working parent, you don't need anything for it," he said. "You can do it in the mornings. You can do it after everyone goes to sleep."

He added, "Hopefully I'll do this forever."

Disney is the parent company of ABC News and "Good Morning America."

Dad's pandemic poem captures the highs and lows of quarantine scare originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com

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