Real Women, Real Stories: Pandemic Edition, vol. 8
Intro by Lisa Butler: Once again this month we are hearing from one of our own therapists, Becky Olin. Becky is a mom of two school aged girls and has taken some time to share her thoughts and feelings about what her family has experienced throughout this pandemic life; the one we are all still living. Even as therapists, we are not perfect and have challenges to face in life.
I write this post in the month of August as I watch my children play and cast spells with fairy wands made from sticks. My just turned 7-year-old paints her wand rainbow and my almost 9-year-old paints her wand gold. I think about their resilience over the past year and a half, and how grateful I am that they had each other and their ever-flowing creativity to make it through such a difficult school year. I truly believe that creativity is one of the most important human resources of all.
As I start to prepare for the upcoming school year, I realize how different things are now - we are all so different now. The last year and a half has certainly left me changed in ways I am still coming to understand. There is much left to be felt and a lot left to be healed. And yet the school year is about to begin. As much as I want to be excited and to delve back into the life I knew before, I can’t help but feel anxious and uncertain. The circumstances in our world are deeply unsettling. It takes me right back to the uncertainty, grief, and hardship of last school year. See when I think about my experience managing virtual school, working upstairs in my bedroom at all hours, multi-tasking all day long, and holding space for my kids’ distress and grief while trying to hold space for my own, all I can think to write (and vocalize!) is AHHHHHHH. It was all so difficult, a time in my life I do not ever wish to return to. On many occasions I would become so overwhelmed with everyone’s needs, with angst over the impact of the year on my kids, with anger and sadness that any sort of work-life balance I previously had was gone, that I would retreat to the bathroom to cry. I cried a lot last year. I was exhausted and overwhelmed all. the. time.
There are parts of this last year that were joyful. I really appreciated the slowing down of our lives. I loved spending so much time outside with my family. Being barefoot while working was great. I am very grateful that we were able to spend so much time with our dog during the last months of her life. I focused on noticing and being present with all the little things that bring us joy. I developed a gratitude practice, which has gradually developed into an “attitude of gratitude.” Speaking of gratitude, I am extremely grateful for the grace many of my clients extended to me as my kids’ play (and arguments!) were sometimes overheard during our sessions. I also hold so much gratitude for my childrens' teachers. They showed up in every way for their students no matter what challenges were thrown their way. Our teachers are amazing, dedicated professionals who truly care about the well-being and critical thinking of their students. They deserve our investment and support more than ever as we enter yet another uncertain school year.
I learned so much over the past year and a half, most importantly that showing up and offering our presence for our kids is the single most important factor in promoting security and resilience in our children and families. I also learned that showing up and offering my presence for myself and my inner experience is just as important. I learned more than ever that mistakes are repairable, and that it’s never too late to apologize and show up for our kids, our partners, and ourselves. Through self-compassion, I learned that my worth does not have anything to do with my productivity or accomplishments - I am already good. I am already enough.
Despite the uncertainty of this coming school year, I feel secure in knowing that this kind of presence will make all the difference in how my kids, my partner, and I navigate the challenges of this year. We can do hard things. Our kids can do hard things. To all my fellow parents- we still got this.