We are close to wrapping up the first half of 2020 and oh boy, has been one for the record books!
From the untimely death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, to the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders, to the unlawful murders of Black men and women by law enforcement and those thinking they are police; the past six months in America have been traumatic, exhaustive and full of social and racial unrest.
Through all the challenges of the recent past, nearly all of which remain, I have a message for everyone, but especially parents: give yourself grace.
Give yourself grace. Those three simple words were not in my vocabulary months ago. I remember the initial weeks of COVID – 19 when I was not only trying to navigate the scary and uncertain times from an emotional perspective, but also doing so while continuing to work full time from home and educate my toddler son who was also adjusting to being out of school. On top of all that, I also felt that I was neglecting my husband and certainly myself. I was a mess: emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. There were so many balls in the air and I felt like I was going crazy trying not to drop one of them, while still not effectively carrying any of them. I didn’t like the mental space I was in, but even worse, I wasn’t sure how to get out of it because, well, none of the challenges were gone, they all remained.
Though I was spiritually broken, I knew if there was anything that was going to get me out of my funk, it would be my faith. So, I read and I prayed and I prayed and I read. I also started talking about my feelings with others. Because I was socially isolated, part of me forgot how therapeutic conversing with others can be. I am generally the listener and adviser-type, the person others seek out, but I deliberately chose to let things out in my own way. Speaking my truth, being vulnerable and acknowledging that I was in a tough space actually made me feel better. I was able to accept the current state of affairs and allow myself grace. In doing so, the pressure I was placing on myself to get everything right, subsided. I began to adjust day-by-day to ensure I was contributing to all the important areas of my life. That meant being more strategic with my schedule and realizing that as long as I am doing my best, my efforts were sufficient enough for times such as these.
Over the past few months parents have had to adjust in unprecedented ways especially relative to work and educating children from home. I know firsthand how difficult that can be, but I also know that this too shall past. We are now officially in the midst of summer, so chill out a bit. We should all know now more than ever how fleeting time is and how precious the small things in life are: storytime with your children, a glass of wine with a friend, a relaxing bubble bath, the beauty of watching plants grow…there are so many small things that we should be grateful for and relish in. Appreciating those things will make us even more thankful for the larger things: our health, safety and being provided for – in whatever form any of those things appear in our respective lives.
If you were like I was in mid-March and beyond, you didn’t know how you would emerge from all this uncertainty and turmoil, yet here we are – still here. That in itself is a gift. Enjoy the weeks ahead and let go a bit because we really have no idea what the end of summer and fall will bring. Before we know it, children will be back in school – virtually or in person – and we will likely have to adjust to an entirely new-normal routine. When that time comes, it may present its own stressors, so just enjoy the present while also giving yourself a pat on the back for making it to this point.
Shannon Williams is a journalist and former president of the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. She currently serves as Senior Vice President of Community Engagement at The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education non-profit that works to ensure all children have access to a high-quality education.