So, how are you?
Really… how are you holding up?
It is all I really care to know these days. And I am not asking in that “just to be polite and make conversation” kind of way. I am dying to know how people, especially the ones I love the most, are doing these days.
It’s a question I am asking over and over for many reasons.
- I need to know if my people are ok or not ok. Either answer is fine. Anything in between is fine. Do you need me? How can I help? What can I learn from you? Can you help me? Knowing how my loved ones, friends, colleagues and neighbours are feeling helps me assess this whole pandemic situation and my own feelings and where I fit into it all.
- I need to know I am normal. Is it normal to cry? To laugh? To be grateful? To be angry? How you’re feeling might help me to feel connected and normal and sane when everything in me tells me I am not.
- If you answer “I don’t know” or “I can’t really answer that right now”… it gives me all the information I need to know. You need time. Time to process, time to feel and it is my job to hold that space for you and honour it.
And although I l o v e to ask this question right now, I feel an incredible amount of gratitude when people ask ME how I am doing. It doesn’t escape me that there are people in the world who have no one asking them how they are doing (just the thought of that breaks my heart…) I am feeling the love right now. I know that having people check in is a gift. These check ins remind that I am blessed every time someone simply asks “how are you?”, “how you holding up?”, “how is your heart?”.
I am choosing each and every day to find the small blessings, the unexpected gifts, the gratitude… Some days are easier than others. Today, I can find it (thus this blog focusing on the positives). Tomorrow, I might not (so hopefully you DON’T get a blog about the crappiest crap I can think of during a pandemic).
And truth be told? Overall? Right now? I am OK.
OK as a mom. OK as a teacher. OK as a human. Just OK…
OK as a Mom…
These 3 are keeping me sane. Well, sort of sane. More sane in my own home than I have felt for a while. I need to be regulated as much as possible for them. I need to SHOW them grace and gratitude and patience and kindness right now to help them learn. They have seen me cry. And stomp. And yell. And sigh…
But, they have also seen me take big breaths. They have seen me laugh and smile. They have seen me face new challenges in my job and in our family. They have heard me express gratitude. They have seen me full of grace (and with no grace at all) and they still love me. They know that I am ok.
Each child is handling this in their own way.
Sadie’s love of rainbows and drawing and art and writing has never been stronger. She is thrilled to be home learning and making memories with her family. She takes every chance she gets to remind those around her that everything will be ok.
Casey has had his ups…
And his downs…
He is mostly happy to be home and playing and learning math games on the iPad and reading and doing Google Hangouts with his amazing teacher and classmates. But as soon as the ‘ol Google Classroom comes out? He is done. Over it. He puts in his hour a day but not a second more. And we are cool with that. Knowing his limits and encouraging him to do his best is all we’ve got right now. He is teaching us so much.
Molly’s happy place has always been and will always be, creating. The recycling bin and art supplies are her best friend. For anyone driving by, her windows are a revolving museum of her creations. Her favourite addition to our home has been a big stack of cards which we find all over the house reminding us how much we love her and how much she loves us.
We are creatures of habit our home. We tend to be home bodies and don’t tend to give in to the fear of missing out very often. So the staying home part has not been too difficult on us. The home learning part? Tough. We knew right away we would have to come up with a structure, a routine to our day in order to get by and feel like we have control over something right now. So, our family checklists are also keeping me sane right now.
One for each child and one for them to check when Mommy and Daddy are both busy working…
All in all, we are finding the gratitude in each day and are adjusting as best we can to this new routine. Is it hard to work and teach my own children? Heck yes. Do we have sad/mad/yelly times? Every day. Is my patience thin? Yep. But overall, as a Mom I am doing the best I can and that’s ok.
Ok as a teacher…
I have been in the game 13 years and counting. And there are times right now where I feel like I am back to Day 1. Some things have changed drastically in the past 3 weeks. The format. The reliance on technology. The confidence I have in being an “online guide” as compared to a guide in the classroom. My vulnerability is at an all time high in knowing that I will make mistakes.
But, there is so much I realize that hasn’t changed. I still worry about them. I still think about them constantly. I am still reminded every day that they do not belong to me, that they are someone’s everything and that I am grateful to be part of their education journey. I am still doing my best to gauge what our kids and their families need just as I would do in our classroom. It is not about me. This isn’t about what I am comfortable with (hello seeing yourself on Hangouts!) or ready for (and hello to you too online lessons!). My philosophy and my values are no different either. That voice and choice and strong relationships for our kids is crucial to their learning. This is still about them. Always has been. Always will be.
The growth and identity I have as a lifelong learner has not changed either. The situation has opened my eyes to so many things. It has made me even more acutely aware of inequities in our system. It has made me realize how blessed I am as a teacher to have the technology and resources I need right now to connect and to teach. It has made me realize that I am more daring and capable than I believed and that I have confidence in my abilities as a problem solver to learn and try new things. That I am proud to be a teacher…
What has kept me in the game?
A Stuffie Party/Google Hangout with our class this week (which I blogged about here): It brought back the voices I missed so much. The energy I have missed so much. And the faces I miss so very much. It made me feel more myself as a teacher this past 3 weeks than anything else has…
Weekly Kindergarten Grids: Creating these grids with my teaching partner gives me LIFE each week. Coming up with creative, play based activities that require little technology or resources has been an amazing way to bring choice to our families. These simple grids get sent out every Friday with the reminder that they do not need to do every activity. That each child’s week will look different based on time/resources/child’s interests/child’s needs… That whatever you are doing is enough. I am so proud of what Sandra and I have created.
And my little Instagram teacher community: They have been the kindest, most grateful, most loving crew and their feedback about these grids has been incredible. I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you.
OK as a human...
I have struggled with anxiety, panic attacks and depression for about as long as I can remember. It has been more or less “managed” quite well for the last year. But bring on a pandemic and watch out…
I am fighting it. Hard. I have learned I cannot watch the news. I have to monitor my social media feed. I have to be intentional about who I choose to have contact with. I have to get out of bed. I have to connect with my “bottom hands”. I have to drink water. I have to sleep. I have to eat well. I have to create. I have to move.
But just like knowing the gym is good for you (ugh) you still have to lace up your shoes, put on some headphones and go. I KNOW what is good for me but I need to make sure I am putting the energy into these things each and every day.
And just like finding the gratitude in this situation, some days are easier than others. I find the “easier” days have a common pattern though.
Music. I don’t create it but I sure like to sing to it (at the top of my lungs preferably…) A little Spotify playlist goes on every day to release that dopamine and get the creativity flowing…
Dr. Jody Carrington Daily Lives on Facebook and Instagram. Every morning at 8 MST, I tune into a live with Dr. Jody Carrington on Facebook or Instagram. Her humour and her wisdom and her honesty get me setting my intention every day and remind me that I am never alone. She has been my hero for many, many years. Getting to spend the time with her each day is without a doubt an unexpected blessing during this time.
Connection. Speaking of Dr. Jody, connection is key to managing my emotions right now. I know it. I don’t always want to reach out or answer a text check in from someone but I know that for me, it is hard to stay in the deep, dark places my mind wants to go right now with connection from the right people around me. This text moved me this week. It forced me to refocus my attention and really think about what was going well. It has fast become my new favourite question to ask. (Thanks Allie… you are amazing.)
So, that’s how I am doing.
Ups and downs and everything in between. The mom and the teacher and the human in me are OK.
I’m thinking of you friends. I am grateful for you. I am holding the hope for you.
And I hope that you are OK as well.