As this year continues, many of us parents here in Malaysia are finding ourselves in this place of the unknown future, as schools once again have closed down. Being a homeschooling mom of five, I am finding it a challenge as well, as we start this second conditional MCO. How can we respond? For our own hearts and hope, as well as for that of our kids.
Don’t blame the children
This week we are all adjusting to having kids back from school again and not being able to do work like we want to do it. We’re juggling new challenges and disappointments. It’s a brutal reminder that none of us planned for this type of 2020. There are many unknowns for the future, various effects on our businesses, and many frustrations.
It could be easy to take out pent-up impatience at those younger humans in our own house, whom we once again are seeing for more hours of the day than we are used to, as they are also unsettled and anxious. But remember that all this wasn’t their choice either. Instead of aiming our disappointment at the things that annoy us in our children, take a deep breath and place your blame elsewhere. Or maybe this time around, just choose to let go of that blame. None of us can control decisions that are out of our power. And your child or teen likely feels very out of control as well.
It’s OK to grieve
Here we go again and to be honest, I’m not too excited. I’m a bit sad. My kids can’t have soccer practice – just last week our team had their first match after an 8 month mandatory ‘break’. My daughter’s piano and ballet lessons have to go online again. This CMCO is a disruption to the routine that we had all come to rely on. As a feeler, grief was welling up inside of me, but I didn’t really know what to do with it. I know that my kids are also likely struggling, but it’s normal to want to just focus on the positive and “stay happy” isn’t it…?
However, I am learning that it’s OK to be not OK. Even as a parent, for my child to see my struggle for choosing joy is not a bad thing. Grief and loss are in reality part of each of our lives. Give yourself space, and give your child space to express sadness. Don’t worry, it won’t immediately turn into depression. It’s actually more dangerous and toxic to keep it stuffed inside. If you like to know more about grief, please read this insightful article from Harvard Business Review here.
We pulled out a board game again last night. My nine-year-old twins had smiles on their faces as we moved the pieces of Catan around and rolled the dice. We tend to enjoy games, most of the time. I also know it’s one way to connect on a less serious and more enjoyable level with my kids. Try to dig deeper, focus on character building and relationship strengthening with those who are in your immediate home during this next period of lockdown.
Find strength within
Just as a strong tree must develop a reliable root system to provide nutrients and water from the soil, I as a parent have nothing to give, unless my own roots are down deep. It may look different for all of us, but finding those practices that bring life and hope in the midst of fear and confusion are crucial. For me, it’s prayer. Let’s get those roots growing down to deeper streams, so we can give out to our loved ones – and perhaps have something fresh to share with the rest of the world too.
One day at a time!
I know it sounds cliché, but enjoy the little things in these next few weeks. Yesterday, when I pulled out a thrift short T-shirt with the words ‘World’s Coolest Mom’ on it, I wrote a post about how I didn’t expect to find myself with five kids and homeschooling. But at this place I could choose to be happy. None of us chose to experience COVID-19 as we have in 2020, and yet this is where we are at. I’m not advocating denial, but instead practical optimism.
Even with a name like Sarah Joy, I realize with all of you that my own innate happiness runs out fast in challenging times. I am also realizing that being a pessimist, or a realist as I used to call it, doesn’t bring that much life either. So without advocating a Pollyanna lifestyle, let’s each find things in our journey this week to choose to rejoice in. Be brave – one day at a time!