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COVID-19 has required isolation from the outside world, but it has also brought togetherness into our home. For an introvert like myself who uses solitude to recharge her batteries, this togetherness with my husband and three children has felt ‘extreme’ at times…until I remind myself that there are many who are alone and wish they had someone to talk to rather than escape from.
In the beginning of lock down, there was a feeling of unease, wondering how to maintain a sense of normalcy when the world is anything BUT normal. I had a strong resolve to structure our days to mirror that of a regular school day for my children who are in grades 9, 6 and SK. Believing that routine and structure would calm anxiety and ensure continued learning, I taped up schedules, downloaded lesson plans, and created activities for ‘recess’. We went at it HARD…for all of 3 days.
I’m not gonna lie; for a household that has never been highly structured, this was difficult…for me AND the kids. But mostly for me (there is no planning time or a staff room for coffee breaks at home school). I quickly realized that trying to replicate the school day only served to heighten the tension in my home and confuse my youngest child. Every day was a struggle with my boy, who didn’t understand why Mommy was forcing him to do schoolwork at home. When he finally grasped that I would be his teacher while schools were closed, he told me I couldn’t hug or kiss him anymore, “because teachers don’t do that”.
At that moment my resolve changed; I would no longer try to be something I’m not (teachers don’t get paid nearly enough, btw), but instead I resolved to be the person my kids need me to be right now: MOM. Because trying to be someone else was bringing too much stress into their world. My job as a MOM is to provide an environment in which my children feel calm, safe and loved.
And so, we have returned to a fairly relaxed household where learning takes place in a less structured manner, and everyone feels happier and less stressed. If there is some learning loss when school resumes, so be it. My children will not be the only ones, and there are many more years ahead to make up for it.
The ‘experts’ often say that kids thrive on structure and routine and I don’t disagree. But trying to implement a different structure into our home didn’t work for us, the change to our usual home life was too drastic for my kids. They need stability (and I need my sanity) during a time when the world outside our home is very unstable. Stability is reassuring to them.
And so as a family, we are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to connect more meaningfully; to play, go for walks, build Lego, play video games, bake, learn how to do laundry and cook. Without the ‘noise’ of society, we can be fully present with each other, which is truly a gift. When all is said and done, what I want my children to remember most about the season of COVID, is not being locked up away from friends and fearing sickness, but a special time of family bonding.
I always strive to find the positive aspects of any situation and make the most of it; while COVID has brought togetherness with my husband and children, it has also brought isolation from my parents. This has been much harder to deal with.
On March 1st, I took a leave of absence from work as a social worker to care for my mother who has cancer. I was determined to make the most of her remaining time with us and share the care giving role with my 81 year old father. These plans came to an abrupt end just two weeks later as the world began to shut down due to the virus. This was not how I imagined it. Knowing I will be losing my mother is painful enough, but the thought of her going through it alone is beyond words.
BUT … it is what it is, and there is nothing we can do about it. I know there are countless others going through the same thing, we are not alone. So I do what I can for my parents from the outside: groceries left on the porch, prepared meals for chemo days, regular phone check-ins, and LOTS of prayer. We are never without hope that we will have a chance to hug at least one more time. God is faithful; his mercies are new every morning. He gives strength for each day. We may not have tomorrow, but we have today. And I don’t want to rob today of its joy and strength by worrying about tomorrow. Only God knows the future, so I leave it in His hands.
No one has the answer to when this pandemic will end; what I DO know is that no amount of worrying or stress will have any impact on how long the virus sticks around. I cannot control the outcome of the virus’ impact on society, but I CAN control my response to that uncertainty. God doesn’t want us to worry about things that are not within our control. I’m reminded of this when I break down Psalm 46:10:
Be still and know that I am GOD.
Be still and know that I AM.
Be still and KNOW.
There is a time and a season for everything. God’s got this.