Violets and Dandelions

School’s out, it’s June, people are cautiously edging back into society, but it still all feels so surreal! I mean, seriously, it took a pandemic for our kids to get out of school before the end of June, when every teacher, student, and parent has checked out by Memorial Day at the very latest! It’s just unbelievable.

But, wait. There are those of us who failed our students and their teachers. I’m not proud of it, and I’m the first to admit that there HAD to have been something more I could do. I mean, I could make 7th graders do their work for a general music class, so I MUST be able to teach, right? I have to say, my confidence in my ability to teach has been shaken to the core all because of my wonderful, stubborn, persistent daughter. When she sat down to do her work, I mean REALLY do it, it took her 45 minutes to get through 4 days’ worth of math. I haven’t timed her on reading or ELA because she’s currently on a math kick, and will complete it. Remember how I said school already ended? Yeah, about that…

I have come to the conclusion that the following things should not be combined: negotiating a joint, uncontested divorce with an emotional abuser; divorce itself; starting a new job and working for the first time in one child’s life; having a babysitter 25 hours a week; let’s add in a world-wide pandemic; having to finish 3rd grade from home; having the entirety of your new job be recreated for a digital platform; oh, and have near-crippling depression due to the aforementioned emotional abuse.

Yup! I failed. I can’t even say that Anja failed to do her 3rd grade work. I, as her mother and teacher, failed her. I just couldn’t. It’s not that I can’t teach, and not that I don’t understand the material or the digital platform, it’s that it was all too much – especially when you add in losing the babysitter and having to take the kids to work with you every day.

This spring has been a madhouse for everyone! I am EXTREMELY LUCKY in that I still get to go into the office every day. I even get to take my kids with me due to having no sitter and no way to find a new one. I’m not stuck at home with the same family members day in and day out ad nauseam. And yet, I’m still going crazy.

My kids are four years apart, 5 and 9, and are champions at fighting with each other. Dare I say that they have actually become closer through all of this? They can still bring the house down with their fights, but they spend hours together playing every day, and I have seen numerous examples of extreme thoughtfulness between them that melts my heart. I think that will be the one good thing I take out of this spring.

Yup, I said it. I’m looking for the blessings, the moments of gratitude, the silver lining to this cloud. My kids are friends, and as thick as thieves. My job is amazing and spiritually fulfilling. My whole extended family is healthy including my cousin who has been through chemo and radiation through all of this. There are miracles happening every day, and I’m looking for them. This spring is over. Anja will eventually finish her 3rd grade work, and the 4th grade teacher is our neighbor so if she slacks off, I’ll send her up the street for an accountability check.

This summer will be unlike our usual routine. No vacation with Grandma and Grandpa in the Berkshires. No huge 4th of July celebration at the kids’ dad’s family’s place – at least not for me. No trip to Dallas with Mary Kay for 5 days of friendship, awards, and so much more, followed by a visit with one of my best friends who lives in the Dallas area. No YMCA overnight camp for Anja. There are so many things that have to change.

I guess I’m glad that all of these changes are combined. Disappointments due to the divorce are being commingled with the world being closed, so they’re not as bitter for the children. The kids actually asked me if I get a summer vacation from work, and were excited when I said that I don’t because they like the games they play while I’m working. Everything is different, but not worse.

I’ll say that again. Everything is different, but not worse.

Look for your silver lining, your moments of gratitude, and your bouquet of violets and dandelions – yes, I still get those. If you haven’t been gifted one of these bouquets, pick your own. Pick some wildflowers for a vase, or just sit and watch them. Right now, focus on your blessings even if, for today, it’s just the fact that you remember picking little flowers as a child, and that brought a smile to your face.

Cindy

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