The walks framed our days during the beginning of quarantine. They started and ended the day. My dog became slimmer; I did not.
While discussing the abrupt end of my daughter's school year with my mom during one of the walks, I told my mom about a recent article I had read, a data-laden piece that somehow was still tinged with anxiety-inducing barbs. It detailed how being ripped from school will be traumatizing for kids and how the unknown spiral of time before they go back will be time wasted.
My mom scoffed at the notion.
"Is there really such a thing as time wasted? There isn't," she said. I'm siding with her, especially when watching the fear invade the discussions on our kids' futures.
Now the heat has increased, not just the temperature outside but the pressure to figure out whether our kids will be returning to school and when. A livestream explored an option for their school district to expand its self-paced virtual learning program. Over 1,200 viewers came online, and the comments and questions scrolled past quickly in the sidebar. There was so much worry and so much confusion.
There's been such a thorough discussion of loss and of hardship that sometimes it seems like there is less discussion of making lemonade out of these bitter life lemons. While there's an abundance of stress, there has also been an abundance of counting the blessings in simply my kids' screeching from one side of the house to the other.
Since we're healthy and we at least have food on our table and a roof over our heads, I've tried to shift my perspective from what quarantine has taken away to what it has given us. There has been a simple joy from this strange gift of time.
I'll admit there's been an overabundance of screen time, but there have also been routines that don't look like school but look like life. There's been a whole load of baking — thus my expanding waistline — with my two kids clamoring on a chair to peek into the bowl, and arguing who gets to stir and add the magic ingredient (which, as far as I can tell, is always orange juice).
There's been a measure of authenticity in sharing this stressful time with my kids. They've seen me worry when the lethargic days led into sleepless nights, but they've also seen me get up and go at it again. They've seen me lean into the idea of being who I am and fully feeling my emotions, allowing them to feel better with their emotions and know that off days are a part of life.
I realized the other day that the uncool-mom trope might come from attitude instead of age, from getting to a point where your confidence comes more easily and with a sense of forgiveness; when you realize that you can unfold into being who you are in the moment and trust yourself. It's something I've gained from this time so cut off from others, when I've had to grapple with myself, especially as a reflection from the purity of attitude I see radiating from my kids.
It's not so much about being or finding that inner child again but remembering who that child inside believed she was and how that attitude is there, if hidden. It's remembering that my dancing was never club ready but that I've always danced anyway. It's just moved from dancing in my childhood room to always being kitchen-dance ready with my kids, even when they want to "help cook" by adding the secret orange juice to mashed potatoes.
Cassie McClure is a writer, wife/mama/daughter, fan of the Oxford comma, and drinker of tequila. Some of those things relate. She can be contacted at [email protected] To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Nikketa at Pixabay