I've deliberately avoided posting during this COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine time period. It isn't that there aren't plenty of reflective moments in our days. There are. No doubt, each day is filled with a variety of moments that cause me to pause and take those mental snapshots of our day. I wasn't going to post about this crisis. I wanted to avoid and pretend it wasn't actually happening all around me. AND if I take the time to think about this, if I take the time to type out these letters on my screen..... Well, then it's real.
These five kids of mine, age ranges from 12 to 19 are truly a gift during this time as they live day to day in their e-learning or online classes. They are free. Free from worry, stress and free from panic. I do believe, as their parents, we set the stage for their reaction. It forces us, as parents, to take a good, long and hard look in the mirror. What are we communicating by our own example of how to handle suffering, stress and uncertainty?
It's a challenge. These kids are no longer babies or toddlers who could be completely oblivious to the situation at hand. They are old enough to see all the changes, feel their own emotions and be fully able to communicate them in a variety of teen-age ways. (!!) How do we as parents, keep these kiddos informed of the seriousness of this virus, which forces all kinds of changes in routine, yet keep them serene, hopeful and managing their own emotions effectively. It's a puzzle.... and a critical one to ensure that once we are on the other side of this, they know they had and will always have the stability of a family full of love and support.
It's serious, kids....but be peaceful.
Thousands have lost their lives......but rest at ease.
It's contagious, you must stay home......... wash your hands, don't touch your face.
The economy is crashing, Mom and Dad might lose their jobs...... but be at peace, we can live more simply.
It's such a convoluted message of seriousness yet hope.
As corny as it sounds, we instituted family meetings years ago: mandatory attendance to discuss as a family a current issue, and ask for input from all members. It creates a seriousness in tone, that otherwise can be lost in our wise-cracking dining room table banter.
With my beloved's company looking at financial ruin in the near future, and our forecasted inability to cover teenagers never-ending stream of costly expenses.... I called the first family meeting in many, many years. As we sat around our dining room table, I highlighted the endless blessings God has given this little family of His. The many adventures we have enjoyed, vacations we splurged on, new clothes we danced in and so on. I went on to explain the countless blessings also include our health, our family members, our relationships. These are the intangible things we often take for granted, unseen, but always the support and structure that we lean on. And we don't even know it.
Now it's time to recognize that support, work together as a team, as the family God built for his own glory and purposes...not our own. Often times siblings are in some kind of invisible competition and I wanted to highlight how differently God is asking us to live our lives right now, and maybe from now on.
I took out a piece of paper and pencil. I called on each of our family members to take a personal responsibility in the support and structure of our family. What does that mean to you, in this financial crisis our family, our state, our nation is involved in right now?
What was truly interesting was to see their maturity and sincerity in this family meeting discussion. Each member had impressive ideas, small and big ways to support each other, ways to cut expenses, ways to love each other more. I held back tears in this hour long meeting, as I didn't want to send any other message than confidence and strength as their mother... but honestly, I was humbled in their responses and when looking at this piece of paper.... I am overwhelmed.
God chooses his moments, doesn't He. He chooses them well. In the last 6 months, I too, have taken for granted the depth and maturity that was buried in these young people I call my own. I hadn't seen it. Being so focused on the details, on the formation of these kids, on the virtue development, the running here and there, I miss the big picture. When our family is called to task, how can you know for sure what the response would be? I admit, I was nervous, the world has had it's impact on these kids, for sure I know it, I've seen it. What I underestimated was their commitment to family. What I never saw coming what their ability to set aside personality differences, sibling rivalries, personal comforts and the list goes on...
These kids have never really had to suffer. Early in our marriage and for the first 5 or 6 years, finances were very tight, as staying at home to raise these kids had a serious impact on our budget. As years passed, and our income increased, we were able to give to our kids many of the luxuries that are so common place. Those are the memories they have, the only ones they have.
Why do they call the WWII Generation the greatest? They lived through depression, they assisted in the war effort, at home or on the front lines. They knew what they had, exactly what was needed and they survived by building the support and family infrastructure necessary to get through what ending up being years and years of frugality. The strongest family units rose to the challenge, excelled, created new innovation, supported the fight, loved through scarcity and so much more when you think about it.
When my sweet and dear Grandmother on my Father's side passed away a few years ago at age 92, the work to clear out her home included endless signs of her resilience and inner fortitude to raise the family God wanted. She saved every bit that was savable. She re-used wrapping paper and bows. Her dish towels were still the flour sacks from years gone by. She turned old blankets into pillows, necklaces into rosaries, backyard raspberries into jelly and dropped walnuts into Christmas gifts.
How will our country and our families map their way out of this pandemic? How will we rise to this calling for a new normal? Only time will tell. In the microcosm of society, the family's strength and fortitude, having been built by God, himself, through the instruments we call Mom and Dad, will be the structures that withstand. Love built these walls, these connections. Love built the security and optimism that unites families. It bonds us. It's stronger than any stimulus package our Congress may pass and banks implement. Love wasn't just the structure of the Greatest Generation families, it was the fuel on the fire of God's plan.
With God, there are no co-incidences. This is Holy Week. This is the week of the (predicted) highest death count in the our country due to COVID-19. And millions of people will somehow, in their own unique ways and circumstances, live the Holy Thursday Last Supper, The Good Friday Passion of the Christ, The Holy Saturday Waiting and ultimately we will live our Easter Sunday Resurrection. Maybe not on Sunday, April 12th, 2020. But our Easter will come. When the kids can see their classmates in person again, when co-workers get to forge side by side, when we all eat together in a restaurant again, when our churches open and we sing His praises together again.
Our Easter is when we get to hug our neighbor.
Let us never take for granted the many blessings God has given us through family life, how little we actually need and how our Easter will be the gift of human connection.