Who Needs Some Grace?
As we step closer and closer to the start of the 2020-2021 school year, for most of us, there are a ton of unknowns; more unknowns than I would typically encounter with the start of the school year. All of this has me spinning in a perpetual whirl of worry and confusion and wondering, “AM I DOING THE RIGHT THING?” For me, there feels like so there are many choices but none of them are the ones I feel really good or excited about.
A few weeks ago I was spinning in a sea of worry about the Fall and the idea of needing a lot of grace and understanding in this season was impressed upon me. I began thinking of all the people I would be extending grace to this Fall and all the people that would be extending grace back to me.
Their teacher- Teachers have not been taught to teach like this! As a former special education teacher, I can not fathom how I might prepare for a semester of teaching my students online. I know the heart of most teachers is to be with kids, lead them to love learning and be successful, thriving students. What most teachers are having to prepare for goes against how they were wired at their core to care for kids and ignite a strong desire for learning.
Other families- The more I talk to people, the more I become aware that everyone is experiencing this differently. There are a small number of people who are thriving in Covid, a few that are really struggling and many that are somewhere on the spectrum in between. This range of views and sentiments towards this disorienting experience is hard to navigate with other families and friends.
Myself- I have the tendency to try to control things more than I should. I have struggled to strike a good balance of being all the roles I am needed in in this season. There is simply not enough time and energy to do all of this to the full extent.
My spouse- He is a fabulous supporter, cheerleader, and a loving husband and father. Part of his day is spent out of the house working his full time job. Sometimes, the ability to leave the house feels like a special privilege, especially when I think about what my day will entail.
School administrators/IEP team- My daughter’s intervention team tried to meet just after school closed in early March. At that time they didn’t even know how to sign documents to initiate her evaluation. As the months have passed, they have figured out many things, but there are still so many unknowns. Her evaluation has not even been initiated! Her accommodations are mostly supports I have to implement at home for her success in a virtual format. With no manual on how to navigate this we have had to be very patient with the school team and offer them a lot of grace as they try to figure out what to do. I am not implying that we compromise our child’s education for the circumstances, but offer a large measure of patience when working through the challenges as a team.
The list could go on, to include employers, immediate family members and many more.
SO WHAT DOES EXTENDING GRACE LOOK LIKE PRACTICALLY? BEING OK WITH THE UNKNOWNS, THINGS BEING SLOWER, LOUD AND MESSY. MAYBE THIS LOOKS LIKE DOING THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU ARE INCLINED TO DO OR SAY.
Maybe grace in this season looks like focusing on personal self-care. Taking small moments of deep breathing, breath prayers, walks, enjoying nature and going to bed earlier are some simple ways to care for ourselves during the day. Try using some of the sensory strategies we use with our kids on ourselves to remain calm. Make yourself a cup of tea and look out the window for birds.
Maybe grace in this season looks like stepping up our organization game. Packing lunches the night before, laying out clothes and waking up earlier can help us be able to better focus on the hard things that we will encounter during the day. Creating visual schedules and using timers or alarms on our smart devices can help us not miss the virtual check-ins with the teachers.
But maybe ultimately grace in this new school year can look like us being more realistic, more loving and more flexible with everyone and everything we encounter. And ultimately, that is the example I want to set for my children, as now more than ever, they are watching me and learning from my actions.
Written by Naomi Brubaker