I heard on the radio last week, that it has been seven months since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in New Jersey. I know, just from looking at my datebook that we have been in some form of this state of emergency for six full months now. Six months — a long long time, yes? And we’ve all been so strong; we’ve put on brave faces for our children and we’ve risen to the occasion when it came to caring for older family members and some of us have faced sickness and loss and death of loved ones. We’ve learned how Google Classroom works, even if it’s been decades since we ourselves have been in schools and we mastered the art of Zoom, and most of us know how to use Door Dash, Grub Hub and Instacart and I would think we all owe a great deal of gratitude to Amazon.com and to all of our delivery drivers—as they rang our doorbells almost daily- masked and ready to hand to us what we needed but could not go out and get.
Restrictions have eased, but they are still in place and so still, we all need to be so very strong—September brought a new set of hard decisions; homeschool? Remote classes? Hybrid classes? Do we use the school bus? Public transportation? Do we play sports? Go back to ballet? Can friends get together safely? If we send her to school, can she still see her elderly grandparents? What will happen if there’s an outbreak? What if our child contracts COVID and is asymptomatic? What if they then carry it to someone who gets very sick? It’s a hard time to be a parent and the strength we need to pick our heads up each morning and get through the days with bright smiles, warm hugs, and words of reassurance and comfort, before we can lay our weary heads to rest at night is monumental. Where do we find it? From deep within, from the example our own parents set for us in years gone by, and of course, from God.
I don’t know about all of you parents, but there are days when I just need a bit of a release from all the weight I feel on my shoulders- at work and at home. And yet, could it even be possible…for I am too tired or too stressed or too hyper from being so vigilant about everything to even sit down and have one of those “good cries” that provide a much needed stress relief. So, I wonder, are our students, our children feeling the same way? All bundled up emotion with no outlet? After all they see us making the best of things, rising to meet challenges each day and I am willing to bet we rarely, if ever let them see us scared or upset or crying. Age 8 or 18, they imitate us—because we work to shape them into the adults and parents they will someday be. So, how can we help these students and our children to find a way to just “let it go” and almost purge all the pent up emotion.
All I can offer is what works for me; and I am well aware it will sound perhaps a bit strange. We all know, those of us who love to sing and those who just love music that music has the ability to bring forth great emotion; joy and sorrow. What I’ve found helps me is music—and one song in particular. All I have to do is hear it and tears well up, and before I know it, I can have that cry I so need and then dry my eyes, smile with not only my mouth but with my heart, and go back to the business of my life as a wife, mom and Head of School.
What song? Well, that’s kind of a funny story—and in fact it was pretty much a parlor trick in my house when I was growing up. I have no idea why, but from when I was a tiny child, if I heard Peter Paul and Mary sing Leavin on a Jet Plane, I would cry and cry. My parents were, at first very comforting, then slightly bewildered and then and I’m sure they will be less than pleased to have this told, amused by it. I can remember times when family or friends were over and my dad would start to sing it—to show them the effect it had. As a parent now, I don’t blame them—it was kind of a strange and unusual reaction and it never failed.
You might think all these years later the effect would wear off. But no—although I’ve progressed…I can listen to the song, I can even sing along—for a verse or two at the most and then the tears start to flow. It never fails and these days it’s my husband and daughter who look at me in bewildered amusement. But I’m happy to have remembered the effect that song has on me—because now, when I need a good cry, I can just say “Alexa, play Leavin on a Jet Plane” and in 3 minutes I feel so much better.
We all need a release from being so strong all the time. Whether yours is music or something else, find it and put it to good use on the hardest days. And, help your daughter find her release as well—with the weight of school and sports and socializing amid unprecedented times on her shoulders, she needs it as well. Borrow “my song” if you’d like—I think it just might do the trick!
Stay strong and thank you, thank you, for returning your daughters to SDA this fall!