We are four people and two dogs trying to do work and school and life while maintaining some kind of semblance of love and affection for each other. It looks different for every family, but we can't do board games and puzzles every night. We parents need to offer each other a little grace and know that the rules for modified quarantine are going to be different for everyone. What matters is that we maintain our distance so that someday, hopefully sooner than later, we can all be together again.
A regular scroll through my Facebook or Instagram accounts makes it seem like this is easy for us, but detaching from electronics and work and the outside world and forcing our kids (and us) into nature takes real effort. There are some weekends when I just want to hunker down inside and knock things off of my work and home to-do lists. There are days when I argue that it is too hot or too cold or too wet for us to face the elements. But I refuse to believe that our children have to grow up in the countryside to appreciate the world around them. We just have to make sure they are given the opportunities to see past the concrete.
I have to consistently remember that my kids have to be allowed to be their own selves. I know this as they will eventually attend the same school I teach at. I know this as I pursue my own writing. I know this as someone who spent most of her adolescence struggling with finding my own identity separate from my dad's position. Our children don't get to choose the childhood we've given them. Let's at least give them the freedom to find their way through that childhood.
But even in those moments I have to remember to check my response to their behavior. In those moments we have to ask each other for forgiveness, them for their behavior and me for the level of my reaction to that behavior. I want them to learn that anger can be good and justified, but how we express that anger needs to be appropriate to the situation and not be the cause of hurt to those we love. I want them to learn the importance of looking at the whole picture (something I'm constantly learning as well) and considering how their actions and reactions affect those around them. I want them to learn the value of offering grace even when that grace does not appear to be deserved.
No, I don't feel like I can pull an Alicia Keys and go 100% natural all the time, but I'm doing the best I can. Instead of sorting through photos to find the ones in which I look my very best, I've started accepting pictures of me enjoying the moment. I've concluded that wild animals and mosquitoes don't care about how I look. And I've chosen to listen to my encouraging husband when he pulls me into his arms and calls me beautiful, wrinkles and all.