I love celebrating seasons – all the seasons. Actually, I just love any opportunity to celebrate anyone or anything with special snacks, decorations, and friends. As much as I love summer, I’ve always enjoyed celebrating the back-to-school season. Shopping for school supplies (Is there a simple joy greater than a pack of assorted flair pens?! Or Sharpies?!), meeting new teachers and friends, reuniting with old teachers and friends, getting back into a routine, and, especially here in Texas, gearing up for football season…I love it all! Even as empty-nesters, Mac and I still feel the excitement of the back-to-school season.
Back-to-school looked and felt very different this year. Some kids are still remote learning, which means navigating Zoom calls and virtual assignments. Other kids are back in the classroom, navigating what it means to wear masks and maintain social distance at school. While some are starting football, volleyball, band, and other extra-curricular activities with significant modifications, others have been told all extracurriculars are canceled until spring.
Our communities are divided about when and how kids should get back to the classroom. Parents have engaged in emotionally charged social media battles and attended some heated school board meetings. There is so much anger and angst surrounding this 2020 back-to-school season. Nothing is the same as it’s been in the past. Generally speaking, “same” brings us comfort, so this is extremely uncomfortable.
As moms, our reflex is to fix things and to remove any and all discomfort from our kids’ lives. What if we looked at this weird back-to-school season as an opportunity for growth and development, instead of just a season of setbacks and difficulty? What if we looked at this with a Fearless Mom 20/20 perspective? A 20/20 perspective considers the next 20 years, not just the next 20 minutes. We can’t change the situation, but we can change our perspective. We can’t change the situations, but we can change how we look at it. When we change how we look at it, we change the way we feel about it, and we change the way we deal with it.
We look at the situation as it really is, not how we wish it was. We acknowledge the change and the difficulty, and all the feelings that go with it. Then, we shift our perspective, flip our mindset, and leverage this situation as an opportunity for development. We consider not just what our kids are experiencing right now, but what our kids could learn that will help them not only right now, but also 20 years from now. For example:
- Kids have to wear masks. New 20/20 Perspective: Kids learn to consider others and do uncomfortable things to make others feel safe and comfortable. They learn self-control as they keep the mask on even when they don’t want to. They learn that sometimes the thought of something (like wearing a mask) is more difficult than the reality.
- Kids have to do classes online. New 20/20 Perspective: Kids learn how to speak up for themselves to the teacher, and learn to problem solve as they work through technological glitches. When they occasionally miss assignments and classes, they learn how to recover afterward.
- Kids struggle to learn from a teacher who is only on a screen and cannot answer questions immediately. They don’t understand assignments and get overwhelmed and anxious. New 20/20 Perspective: They learn how to verbalize and articulate thoughts and feelings, and they realize they are not the only ones struggling. They learn that this is hard, but it won’t be like this forever. They learn that they can survive hard times.
- Kids have teachers who sometimes have the technology figured out and sometimes struggle. New 20/20 Perspective: They watch teachers try new strategies and keep trying new ways to teach over a computer. They learn to see teachers as actual people: people who care deeply for their students, but who are also struggling to figure all of this out. They learn empathy and kindness.
Here’s the deal. This season is hard; it’s weird, different, uncertain, and scary. Each child (and each mom!) is responding differently and feeling different feelings. As moms, we have a huge opportunity to teach our kids that life is sometimes hard. Really hard. And that we can work together to do hard things. We can learn to speak up and talk about the feelings we’re feeling. We can learn to notice when others are having a hard time, too. We can learn that any feeling is okay to feel, but how we express it matters. We can learn that others—even adults—are sometimes feeling these feelings, too. We can learn that sometimes, even when we do our best, we mess up. We can learn that failure isn’t fatal and that we can learn from our mistakes. We can learn that we can disagree with someone and still love them and be kind to them.
But the most important thing we have to keep in mind is that God is always in control. Even when we don’t see it or feel it. Nothing is wasted—no mistake, no difficulty, no pain, no loss, no hardship. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. He will use all of this for His glory and our good. As Romans 8:28 says (emphasis mine), “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
He will give us everything we need to get through this. We WILL get through this; together and with His help. We will be better, stronger, and smarter when we get through this season.
Check out the Back To School Check-in video for more about navigating this unique 2020 back-to-school season.