I’ve never been one to rush through the holidays — Thanksgiving first, then Christmas, thank you very much — but after the colossal mess 2020 has been, I say, bring on the Christmas trees and some freaking good cheer because, frankly, we could all use some positive vibes.
From the devastation of the fires to the chaos created by election strife and the constant stress of distance learning for parent and student alike, this year has been as pleasant as a rod up the keister.
And we are weary.
There’s a funny meme floating around social media about this very phenomenon. People have run out of … well, you know, and it shows.
But can you blame us? The trauma associated with a world-wide pandemic has clipped short our ability to care about much more than what’s for dinner (and even that’s questionable).
Murder hornets? Sure, why not.
Giant asteroid careening toward earth? Of course.
Twenty-four earth-like planets capable of sustaining human life? Cool. Sign me up.
We cannot summon enough energy for much more than an apathetic eyebrow raise on our emotional Give-A-Crap meter because we are tapped out.
So is it any wonder our kids are struggling with the burden of distance learning when all hell is breaking loose all around them?
Here’s the thing, we all need to remember one essential truth: this too shall pass. Nothing lasts forever and that includes crises.
My daughter has the worst grades of her school career and her mental health is all over the map. At first, I reacted in the same way most parents might when they see a car wreck happening in the grade department but then I realized, my kid is drowning and I’m making it worse by throwing boulders her way instead of a life preserver.
Look, grades matter but grades are fixable. To borrow a phrase from Russell Crowe in Gladiator, “What we do today, echoes an eternity” because years from now, we aren’t going to remember the terrible grades but we will remember the after-effects of the trauma left behind.
Our kids need some semblance of normalcy because their world (and ours) has been tipped upside down. We need to be the stable influence in our kids’ lives, not an additional source of chaos.
But here’s something else I’ve noticed — a lot of adults acting like kids.
Newsflash, just because we go to work and pay taxes doesn’t mean we’ve got it all figured out. Big upheaval and change triggers people but triggers are just opportunities to grow disguised as challenges. We can use this opportunity to grow past our own nonsense, our own bias, our own entrenched bad habits to create new, more emotionally sustainable selves.
Or we can stay the same and suffer.
I guess it’s our choice but we’re teaching our kids how to handle a crisis when it’s their turn.
What do we want our legacy to be?
Learn and grow or stagnate and rot?
I know that sounds pretty dramatic but the unvarnished truth usually is.
For me, I choose to grow so that my legacy is one of healthy change.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is, we all need new ways to cope with a challenge because even though it might be five o’clock somewhere, our livers are about ready to tap out.
Also, maybe we can get a two-for-one deal on therapy because we all freaking need it.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.