I don’t know about you, but it’s not quite what I hoped it would be. Not yet at least.
Currently, my husband and I are at the point in the pandemic where we’re re-watching all the Star Wars movies in chronological, narrative order, so that should really tell you all you need to know about where we are at mentally right now. Having said that, hindsight is 2020 (see what I did there?), and I’ve spent the new year thus far trying to really dive deep into the hidden blessings that this pandemic has brought with it. To get even more specific, what it may be building in my children without me even realizing it.
1. Managing Emotions
This event has given us an opportunity as parents to practice our emotional control. This comes in a multitude of versions, but not least the choice to choose faith over fear even in the most desperate of times, to choose resilience over despair, and quite frankly, to choose tolerance over exasperation. No matter which side of any pandemic argument you land (Masks or no masks? Vaccine or no vaccine? You know what I’m talking about here…) our kids are watching us closer than we realize. This has been a steep learning curve for them as they observe the adults around them reacting and responding to the unimaginable. If we keep that dialogue open with them, we may all grow from this…young and old.
I believe my kids have been exposed more to what “need versus want” actually means in the last year than ever before, and I believe that that is very, very good for them. Any luxuries that came with the pre-pandemic freedoms we once had were just that: luxuries. I think that being denied their immediate wants or urges for a while (specifically when it comes to going places or consuming “things”) is actually rather good for them. May we all appreciate the beauty of spontaneity after all this is said and done, but may we also recognize the quiet strength of a “make do and mend” mentality.
I’ve struggled with this one. I usually fill my time and my mind constantly out of a discomfort for the quietness that comes with being still. I fill it with the news, with media, with activities and cooking and cleaning and blah, blah, blah…I even go to sleep to the sound of faux rain hitting a faux roof, because I have a hard time being inside my own mind for too long. I know I’m not alone in those habits, but that’s not terribly healthy, is it? So now is the time to work on that in myself AND instill a joy for peace and quiet in my kids too. Quiet time for everyone in 2021!
We will get through this. We all know we will. We will arrive at a post-pandemic existence and we will swear to never forget. But some days, when there’s too many breaking news stories or our loved ones are just too far away or we forget our limitations for just a moment only to be reminded suddenly that we can’t just DO the things we want to DO right now…well, the faith that many of us wear unquestionably in front of our children can feel more like an act that an actual state of mind. In our house, we talk quite openly about what’s going on right now. When it’s getting bad we don’t hide that fact and we explain why we’re pulling back on certain outings for a little bit. We don’t scaremonger and we don’t panic and we keep the faith, but we do recognize that emotions can waver from time to time and that’s just part of being human in a global pandemic. Without really knowing it, we are all being built upon through these strange and uncertain times, our kids not least of all.
5. Compassion & Community
This is the one I’m most grateful to see growing in my kids right now. This is the time to let our kids see us actively praying for and caring about others. They need to be learning to lead those prayers, standing beside us when we make those donations or knock on the doors of our neighbors, writing letters of thanks to the ones who are working so hard to keep us safe and cared for. Their understanding of what we are all collectively facing, however simplified, could breed such a heart for others in them. Make them a part of that caring and let them love others with you.
When all of this is said and done and the dust has finally settled, we’re inevitably going to reflect and wonder what it was all for. I hope we can say that for all the suffering and division, each generation — ESPECIALLY the up and coming one of our children — has had a new hope built into it, one that will literally change this world for the better moving forward.