The Walls We Have Built
We have built great walls in 2020 and now at the beginning of 2021. Walls for survival to keep out the threat of COVID-19 from our children, parents, and neighbors. These walls have grown tall, isolating us from the naturalness we once reviled to keep us safe in a time of a pandemic.
On paper we have it together, we’re taken care of: food, shelter, water. But we cannot ignore the Eeyore in the room: the loneliness—the absence of spontaneity, real closeness to our loved ones, some sun and vitamin D, and pure independence outside the walls we have built to go and do what calls to us.
Here we are, one year later and we’re trapped within our walls—to what end will this continue to impact our fragile and emotional states? The screen fatigue from our daily responsibilities has made it increasingly more difficult to join that Zoom family gathering or wine with friends. We’re jaded.
What I’ve Learned as an Educator
As an educator throughout the pandemic, I was unintentionally invited into the homes of my families and potential families through virtual learning. I heard from many mothers of their long days and stressful management of varying and conflicting virtual learning schedules, as quarantine puppies and children rang in the Zoom distance. I heard their story: this isn’t working, we are struggling as a family as Timmy can’t seem to focus, my home was not meant to be a classroom, can you help?
Re-opening a middle and high school this fall, we knew this jadedness was a reality to all in August, and then, we were just 6 months into the pandemic with COVID social distance mandates and restrictions.
We knew we carried a heavy burden with two priorities: keep everyone safe, give kids a learning environment. We set firm and strong walls to protect our in-person instruction. Limited capacity, social distance practices, plexiglass, and rotating schedules. Children and teachers at multiple arm’s lengths when closeness was needed more for the soul.
Hope and Perspective
Now, rolling into 2021 with the promise of vaccines and normalcy, I think of these parents. What have their walls grown to now? How have they possibly managed the emotional weight of the pandemic, children, virtual schedules, careers, and kept their sanity? What will their lives look like after trudging for the light at the end?
What we need to combat the jadedness, trudging, and impeding gloom is perspective. Grounding ourselves in the thought of purpose and meaning in 2021. So, let’s shift these walls to build perspective: the resiliency we model for our children in the hardest part of their lives yet is setting them up for success for other challenging roads ahead. This incredibly difficult year (understatement) is the short-term cost for the long-term success of a generation.
This may feel like one more thing on the list of responsibilities; an added pressure in an already spread-too-thin parent. I challenge you to reflect on your home. Think of the love, compassion, tolerance: all taught this year within the square footage of the walls of your home. How within that time has your child turned and showed up for you?
I recently received a note from a parent who lost her mom, and within the body of the email, she stated how amazed and proud she was of her son for taking the reins when she was busy caring for her sick mother. He managed his own school program when she was needed elsewhere, attended every class, maintained high grades, and even corrected phone numbers and emails to ensure they didn’t miss weather announcements. Her perseverance and resilience were not overlooked, in fact, it was impressed upon him. Her strength as his model. Look how important we are even when we aren’t trying: how amazing is that? Where will our children use their resiliency next?