It was the best of times, it was the the worst of times

I have to be honest, our Covid-19 world isn’t all bad. There’ve been some truly meaningful takeaways from this experience. My husband hasn’t boarded a plane for work since March and my two young adult kids – one in college and one in high school- have been spending more time together since they were very little. All four of us have spent more continuous time together than – well, ever. Our new home in Charleston is what you would now call “lived in.” Spring and summer have passed and fall is upon us. And with that, the start of a new school year.

September has crept into our lives way too slowly, though, with one hand tied behind it’s back. I usually look forward to the beginning of the school year and at the same time dread the end of summer. This year, it all feels dulled, like the joy and anticipation of “back to school” has been sucked out into some great void we cannot see. As my kids Zoom into learning in their respective corners of the house, with the volume blared and their eyes glued to a screen, I can’t help but feel they’re being cheated, because they are.  

As a mom who is usually in the constant state of planning, I am finding my way in this new maze of uncertainty without the confidence gained through years of experience. I’m running through this time before learning how to walk, but really, it feels like a continuous stumble. The plans we all made in regard to school have been squashed beneath our expectations. 

As I struggle to push past the insidious feelings of anger, depression and the worst – feeling sorry for myself, it helps to know I am not alone. So many moms I know are in this same storm, perhaps in a different boat, trying to find passage through to a calmer sea. Yet, just when I think this year is comparable to a big waste of time, my daughter reads me her paper on altruism for her philosophy class. I admit, I didn’t actually understand the whole thing, but was impressed by her total devotion and excitement in learning that somehow rose above this shitstorm we are rowing through. 

One thing I’ve learned through twenty two years of parenting is that kids end up teaching us more about being a parent than all the parenting books we’ve read or advice dumped on us from our parents and well meaning friends, some of whom have no experience in parenting themselves. This is what is happening in my house. My kids are rising to the this unprecedented challenge as they navigate through this unwelcome school model. They are teaching me something about resilience.

There is a tinge of happiness brewing in my psyche now that is the beacon I’ve needed to guide me through what feels like a long dark tunnel without a certain end. It has been some of the worst of times for us. And yet, some of the best as well. Even though I can’t stop thinking how this pandemic will effect my senior in college and his prospects for next year or my daughter’s future in choosing a college to attend, there is a lightness that eases me from their perseverance amidst so much frustration. 

JK Rowling’s Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban said it best, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” 

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