Like most moms, I’d been obsessing about my kid’s upcoming birthday party for weeks. It might not be rational – it’s just what we moms do. Should we do a slumber party with a small group of friends or a larger party for her whole class? Should we do homemade or store-bought cake? Exactly how many screaming, sticky second graders can I tolerate in my home? You know — the usual concerns. That was pre-COVID 19. How quickly things have changed.
Now, we are planning a “party” for just the three of us – me, my husband and daughter – at home, with hopefully a few virtual visitors via Zoom. Up until about two weeks ago, we had let our daughter believe she was still having a “normal” party. We just didn’t have the heart to tell her otherwise. Truth be told, up until that point, we weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do. Social distancing hadn’t started in full force in Mexico yet, and many people in our small community weren’t taking it very seriously (and some still don’t). But as the days passed and the severity of COVID-19 became more apparent, it must have also become more apparent to our almost 8-year-old that there wasn’t going to be a party.
So, at the dinner table two weeks ago, after listening to yet another conversation between my husband and me about the latest pandemic news, she more stated than asked, “I’m not going to have a birthday party, am I?” I held my breath, waiting for the tears to flow. I mean, a canceled birthday party might not be a big deal to an adult (well, it would really bum me out), but to an almost 8-year-old, it’s like saying her trip to Disneyland got canceled (Which, by the way, it had been. Due to the coronavirus, her grandparents had just canceled their plans to take her to Disneyland for her birthday.) So adding insult to injury, I was prepared for her to be majorly upset. But to my utter surprise, she took the news in stride. Her eyes welled up a bit, but she sucked in her breath, blew it out slowly, and then immediately began planning her un-party. She got out a piece of paper and pencil and started writing down everything she wanted to do for her birthday, starting with a breakfast of French toast, moving on to cupcake making and then a drawing contest, followed by a pillow fight, then avocado toast for lunch, making little birthday hats for her pet guinea pig, then Mac ‘n Cheese for dinner while watching Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker, and closing with a family camp out on the living room floor.
I sat there watching her take notes, awed by her reaction and amazed at her ability to take a blow like that and then quickly pivot in a positive direction. If only I was that resilient when faced with big blows in my own life, especially now when the blows are coming left and right. Lately, I had been feeling isolated, depressed and anxious. And we had only been “social distancing” for less than two weeks. It got me thinking, how can I be more like my daughter in this time of crisis? How can I not let negativity and bad news overwhelm me, and instead be more resilient and positive?
After that moment, I started taking greater notice of people in my community, like my daughter, who were leaning into this “new now” (I refuse to call it a “new normal”) with flexibility, creativity, and generosity. People like one of our local artisans giving a free lesson on how to make mandalas on YouTube, my neighbor who is a Kundalini yoga instructor now teaching her classes on Zoom, my other friend who is sewing face masks to provide to local community members and health workers, and another friend who launched a Fundly drive to help support the 80+ staff of her retreat center that now sits empty.
Now, I don’t have much to offer in the way of useful skills like sewing, crafting or yoga-ing, so how can I lean into this new now with greater resiliency and positivity and less fear and negativity? Well, I can write, so that’s where I will begin – by offering you all this reflection and posing these questions: How can you be more resilient in this time of crisis? How can you lean into this “opportunity” to practice more flexibility, creativity, and generosity?
I look forward to your answers in the comments below.
In the meantime, I’ll be gleaning more life lessons from my soon-to-be 8-year-old and sharing them on this blog. (Who’s homeschooling whom?)