It’s not about the ceremony. Or the cap and gown.

One of my favorite units in childhood PE was bowling.  In my tiny town we actually went to the local bowling alley and got to play on real lanes.  I love the math of bowling…no idea why.  It’s kind of like diagraming sentences–I feel actual joy when I imagine getting to diagram sentences.  I know, I’m off topic…and also a little nerdy.

Back to the bowling alley.  The place smelled of cigarettes and stale beer.  I loved every bit of it.  We were allowed to bring a few dollars and could buy a pop and candy bar from the bowling alley attendant after we bowled.   One year I remember drinking a bottle of Mountain Dew and eating a caramel Twix while noticing that one of the lanes was set up for little kids.  They had “gutter guards” set up so the ball would never fall into the gutter…just bounce off the edge and continue rolling toward the pins. Obviously I’ve seen this set up since then but for some reason whenever I think about bowling, I think about that bowling lane.  I remember thinking how nice it looked. How much less stress…how lovely to bowl in a lane where you were guaranteed that the ball would reach the ideal spot.

I tell you that story because for some reason I cannot stop thinking of that mental image lately.

You see…I have a high school senior. The end of her senior year just evaporated before our eyes.  We had a handful of REALLY COOL STUFF on its way and it just became liquid and slipped right through our fingers and we’re all just standing around looking at our empty palms trying to come to grips with what we just lost and how fast it happened.

Lets talk about loss.

Yes, I’ve read the articles where everyone discusses that these kids don’t understand real sadness.  They are reminded that there was a generation that had to miss the end of their senior year not because they were forced to be inside their homes, safe, well fed and wifi connected but because they went to serve in a World War.  Good Lord that must have been terrible.  I simply can’t imagine the magnitude of worry, sadness and loss that generation and it’s parents must have felt.  I could never take away that it must have been the worst kind of  horrible.

I also know that for anyone who remembers such a time, it must be a struggle to hear parents and their kids complain about not being able to go to prom, fear not getting the chance to walk in a graduation ceremony, have a senior skip day, etc simply because they were told to stay home.  And to be honest…its true…the two situations can’t be compared.

Trust us…we have spent a lot of time talking about perspective to our kids. Those articles haven’t been lost on any of us.

But here’s the part that I think some people critical of the emotion behind this loss might be missing.

As parents, we have NO FRAME OF REFERENCE to guide these kids through this.

Not because we don’t understand disappointment or change of plans. We get that and we’ve piloted ourselves and them out of those situations before.

At least for me, it’s that when these kids have thing after thing stripped from them they look to us to realign them…like the gutter guards.  They are certain that, like we’ve always done, we will route them back to the middle of the lane and point them towards the endpoint where they were headed all along.

But every time my senior gets another event cancelled, postponed, or changed to a “VIRTUAL option” (DEAR GOD THAT HAS BECOME LIKE A DIRTY PHRASE) she looks to me and asks

“How will this work?  What will it look like?  Will this get to happen? Will I get to do that?”

 

And we have no answer.

Because just like them, we have never participated in a GLOBAL FREAKING PANDEMIC before either.

Every single solitary day something changes in OUR world too and we’re forced to learn on the fly, adapt our work worlds, our home life, our social lives in ways that we never imagined, nor were we even remotely prepared to do because no one told us the world was going to close up shop for a few months this year.

Please know, we desperately want to do what we’ve always done.  Allow the ball that is our child to bounce off of us confidently and realign because we have the answers based on our life experience to easily get them back on track.  We want to remind them that the end point and the goal is still straight ahead…they just need to get back in the lane.

Oh how I want to be the annoying parent saying to my kid…

“Trust me, I went through something just like this and here’s how it turned out. You’ll be fine too.”

But let’s be honest.

We can’t.

We can hope and we can assume based on charts, graphs and scientists who tell us that eventually things will look “normal” again…but we have NOTHING to fall back on with certainty and as parents…this fact is rocking our worlds.

It’s not that we aren’t sad that the images we have built in our minds since day 1 of kindergarten are being altered or will simply remain in our imagination of what we thought they would be rather than being able to have them realized as actual memories.  We are. We’re really, really sad about it.

Some of us want the recognition that our super academic kids have earned through really hard work and some of us simply want the finish line for our less than academic kids because they worked just as hard.

We have a thousand reasons to want to watch these kids walk in the traditional cap and gown.

But I promise you that the fear, anxiety, sadness and weight of our emotion is based in a complete inability to guard them from what we don’t know.  We mourn the loss of the ceremony but even more so the loss of how we planned to launch them into the next phase of their lives.

We are unable to guard them from this because there is no parenting book, blog or Pinterest board that is titled… HOW TO EXPLAIN TO YOUR KID THAT EVERYTHING THEY THOUGHT WAS COMING IS ABOUT TO LOOK REALLY DIFFERENT AND WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE WHAT DIFFERENT IS OR HOW LONG IT WILL LAST AND OH YEAH…NOTHING WILL PROBABLY EVER BE TRULY THE SAME AGAIN.

No stress.

So, if you’re tired of hearing from the senior and their parents…I beg of you… give us some grace and maybe a Mountain Dew and a caramel Twix.  We gotta figure out how to direct these kids out of the nest without the guide rails we thought we had just a few short weeks ago.

Class of 2020… CONGRATS to each and every one of you…especially you:

Avery Jayne Lake

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From Paradise to Pandemic

We just returned from a week’s vacation in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.  A week in Maui gave us a brief delay in experiencing the level of panic that has encompassed the US and it was an 80 degree, sunny skies punch of Aloha and family memories that I wouldn’t change for anything.

And then we returned.  And things looked much less sunny.

Thanks to some friends who told us almost three weeks ago this was coming we were prepared with all.the.things. people are frantically buying now.  We are so thankful that even through some of our doubt of their “prepper” mentality we took heed and stocked up pre-hysteria.  It allowed us to sit somewhat worry free that we wouldn’t have to return to empty shelves of things we really needed. Bottom line…If you don’t have some friends who watch for pandemics then go find you some…today.

We did start dealing with things for our business while we were still there because when you’re a small business owner you take that business and the thought of your employees with you wherever you go.  We made sure our offices were prepared for patients and checked up on our disinfection protocols.  All the list-checking was happening.

Fast forward to today, back on the mainland, I woke up late.  Hawaii 5 hour time difference obviously had taken effect. I was flustered and thinking of the many things I needed to accomplish to get ready for work re-entry tomorrow and all that it will bring with the latest news.  I was angry I had overslept and lost a couple of valuable hours to work.  Right about then my husband came upstairs carrying his iPad and I could hear our church streaming on it.  Our church, like all of the others, cancelled in-person services and went to online church.  We had decided last night to watch it together this morning.  Our pastor, Jim Preisig, can deliver a sermon that can calm or inspire me, week after week.  I knew we needed to hear from him today.

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But…all the things to do.  Remember them?  All the distractions.  All the catch up work.  All the time lost asleep.  My brain kicked into overdrive. I have 3 kids at home and 40 some at work.  I mama-bear worry about the work ones almost as much as the home ones.  My anxiety starts talking to me…

“How will I keep them safe?  How will I keep their loved ones safe?  Some of them have new babies.  Some of them have elderly living with them. Do I have enough of all of things we need to keep them healthy? How will I keep the offices going and be able to pay them if this gets bad? HOW.BAD.IS.THIS.GOING.TO.GET?” 

My first inclination when I looked at Jason was to change course, claim that I would watch it later, put off 20 tiny minutes of my attention to begin to deal with the distractions. Jason sat down next to me with the live stream and still I was distracted with some texts and emails.  I was just getting ready to tell him I’d catch it later when I was overwhelmed with a memory from our vacation.

In Hawaii, Jason and I got up early…remember 5-hour time difference leads to EARRRLLYYY wake ups.  We’d walk this path in front of our hotel.  It was busy–everyone was up early.  One day I noted that I was spending my time watching everyone on the path, darting out of their way, watching who was coming in front of us and wishing there was less traffic on the somewhat narrow walkway. Here was our straight ahead view…

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Pretty, right?  It was pretty but again, the beauty of it wasn’t what I was concentrating on. It was the problems of it.

But here’s the REAL KICKER.

If I just shifted my view a TINY BIT to the right I could have been seeing THIS….

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If that doesn’t make you stop and take a breath then I don’t know what will.  Each time I looked at it I was overwhelmed with God’s presence.  With his overwhelming show-off talent. Look what He made for us!

And all I had to do was just look a little bit differently.  My friend Jolene wrote a heartfelt post about the same thing earlier this week.  I’m a slower learner.  https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjolene.f.conway%2Fposts%2F10158287634213793&width=500” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Click here to read her post.

So this morning, when that memory hit me, I stopped getting up to take care of all the tasks. I sat next to my husband and listened to my pastor and received the same peace that the view of the ocean had given me earlier this week.

I hope this thing fizzles out and we all look back and laugh at how crazy the world went. I hope we all have canned goods for days in our cupboards that we end up donating at next years food drive in our kid’s school.  But above all, I hope we look around and see more than just what bothers or stresses us, I hope we see the beauty.

Wherever you get your peace…your churches, your nature, your people…I hope you take time to receive it.

There is beauty lurking in this thing, my friends.  I just know there is. 

Health to us all,

Suzy

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