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August 25, 2020

The Most Important Lesson to learn this School Year.

Kudos to all you parents who got a “first day of school” picture of your kids at 7 a.m., all dressed and sitting on your doorstep with their laptops ready for e-learning.

I commend you. I really do.

My perfectionist and competitive nature wants that picture, so I am a bit jealous.

In my quest for mental health and inner peace over perfectionism, we decided our schedule would work best to stay in our PJs until around noon. We plan to shower and get ready midday, most days. I am hoping to get a walk outside before then.

This is the routine today that works for me and my family.

I will take my kids back to school pictures before dinner tonight instead. It irks me a little, because it won’t match all the other early morning back to school pictures I have saved up through the years, but it is what it is. None of us wanted a picture of us right when we rolled out of bed this morning.

We had a mix of feelings in anticipation of our “new norm” in these “unprecedented times.” It wasn’t the usual back to school excitement. It was a bit anticlimactic, really. Just more of the same.

And who are we kidding? We are not getting dressed every day. That is the way we are rolling today, and this year. It is a welcome blessing for me to allow this kind of flexibility.

I am a work in progress. Being rigid and demanding seems to be my natural state of being—but making sure things are picture-perfect is a multi-edged sword.

I found myself with an extra half hour today when a work meeting was cancelled, so I had time to craft a beautiful salad for lunch. This is exactly what I wanted to offer my kids today when I bought the ingredients last night, so I was glad to have time to make it. It turned out better than expected. I felt spoiled and happy to be home with my kids having the time to cook chicken mid-day.

The salad is gorgeous, and I will put it on Instagram later. What won’t be seen on Instagram are the fuzzy Christmas socks my daughter is wearing on this 90-degree day in August. Or the hole in my T-shirt. Or my hair piled on the top of my head.

I couldn’t find my white sports bra, so I am wearing a black one (under the said white T-shirt with a hole in it).

I didn’t create a Pinterest-worthy space for my kids. We added some chargers, pencils, and pens to the dining room table. That’s actually a lie. We can never find our chargers, so I added pencils, pens, and one notebook. That was the extent of our school supply shopping. One daughter needed a notebook; the other had one already. So we bought one notebook, one package of pens, and one package of pencils to share.

Across from the dining room is the powder room, and surely the day is coming when I don’t shut the door and something embarrassing will be seen in the seventh grade classroom.

I’d like to mention that I am feeling grateful that we have a dining room and a powder room, because not everyone does.

I didn’t when I was growing up. I didn’t even have a bedroom for a short time in second grade. I shared a one-bedroom apartment with my mom. I had a space behind the couch for my toys. I can’t imagine how mortified I would feel if I had to show my classmates that was all I had.

I thought it was cute and cozy the way my mom set it up for me. It was definitely clean and safe. But I would be embarrassed to show anyone at school that tiny cubby, which was the only space of my own at the time.

Some kids don’t have a closet to sit in, and some parents work nights. Kids and families have different abilities and circumstances.

Let’s immediately normalize non-Pinterest-worthy spaces for e-learning, because that is the norm.

Some students might be at Grandma’s house. Grandma might be hard of hearing and say something embarrassing and loud in the background. We can extend a lot of grace to our Grandmas.

The teacher has never done this before so she might mess up too. She might have her own kids sitting next to her. We can extend a lot of grace to teachers.

Parents might be doing the best they can and still not have access to a healthy breakfast for their kids. Some kids may not arrive to the online classroom ready to learn. We can extend a lot of grace to parents and kids.

We are not all coming from the same vantage point, and we could all use some extra grace this school year.

This year is a lesson on extending grace to everyone, and most importantly, to yourself. We are all doing the best we can. And the best we can do is make it easier on each other.

I commit to being a safe place for myself and others to show up.

We will grow together by showing up as our real selves and not only the Instagram-worthy highlights.

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