This is not a new normal

I want to be super duper clear here: I love my work, am happy I have the ability and privilege to continue my work, and am up for the challenge of doing so in whatever capacity I am able…

But, also…

I recognize the unprecedented nature of these times.

And I feel them.
Our kid feels them.
Our family feels them.
And the students I teach, their families, and my colleagues, feel them.

And yes, I’m fortunate to still have a job. And I know a great many are not.

But I’m not working from home. That’s not what this is.

And my kid isn’t homeschooling or learning virtually, that’s not what this is.

And my students aren’t distance learning, that’s not what this is.

Not as death tolls rise, and our loved ones get sick, and more cancellations and closures make “normal” life a distant memory, and places of worship are closed, and there are blue tape marks to illustrate six feet of distance in store checkout lines, and stores are limiting the number of people who can enter and shop at a time, and there are “plastic shields” between us and cashiers, and city playgrounds are closed, and makeshift hospitals are being constructed in parks and sporting arenas, and we worry about how close is too close when out for a neighborhood walk, and getting to the grocery store in and of itself is a challenge, and you can’t hug your grandparents if they don’t live with you already, and kids are getting zero in-person interactive play time with peers, and people are dying. Young. Old. Rich. Famous. Every-day-Joe. People are dying. People we KNOW are dying.

This is not normal. Life like this, this is not normal.

This is not working from home.
Or homeschooling.
Or distance learning.

This is a pandemic. A global health crisis.

We are living in a time of crisis.

I understand, and appreciate even, that we want to keep things moving, and keep kids learning, and keep life as normal as possible.

Except this, again, this is not normal. Not our normal. And we have to make accommodations for that. For all of our sakes.

  • I am trying to work at home, during a crisis.
  • I am trying to teach my child from home, during a crisis.
  • I remain worried about my loved ones (my husband, my brother, our friends…) who are “essential personnel” going to work, each day, during a crisis.
  • I am worried about my child who has a history of serious respiratory illnesses and thinking about how every moment she is at risk, during a crisis.
  • I am answering that young child’s questions about why this is happening, during a crisis.

Let’s not pretend this is a tiny blip on our radar.

Let’s not pretend this is a new normal.

Let’s not pretend this isn’t scary and confusing and frustrating – for people of all ages.

And if we aren’t pretending, let’s also not pretend that anything other than our mental and physical health – and that of our families and friends and loved ones – matters more than any other single thing in this moment.

Not school.
Not test scores.
Not grades.

The only thing that matters is that we create a sense of belonging, of community, of connectedness, and of love in all places possible.

For those feeling the pressure of “making it all work” – let’s stop that. Let’s collectively acknowledge the rarity of our situation. Let’s lead with love. Let’s stay home. Let’s do what we can, for ourselves, our families, our students, our colleagues, our jobs, and heck – for complete strangers!

And let’s give ourselves some grace here.

We are in a crisis.

We WILL find ourselves on the other side of this. We WILL!! We ARE strong enough.

Again, all of this is not normal. And no, it’s not a “new normal” either. It might change what we appreciate, what we go back to our lives as they were before this crisis, it might change how we act and what we do “after”, but what we are in right now is not normal. It’s just new. And uncertain, unsettling, daunting, and even a little scary.

But it is not our new normal.

We will get back to our version of normal, we will.

But right now, we are in it, this – not-the-new-normal time of crisis. In the very thick of it. So let’s stop beating ourselves up, trying to obtain unrealistic goals, avoid undue self-imposed pressures, fix all the problems…all things which are adding more stress to our plates.

  • Let’s be patient with ourselves, and others.
  • Let’s acknowledge the reality we are in, and find the bright spots.
  • Let’s be realistic about what we can accomplish in a day, and give ourselves some grace.
  • Let’s find ways to support one another and lift one another up, as a way to make connections.

Is this going to be challenging? Yes!

Can we still accomplish it? Also, YES!

With love,
a fellow stressed out human

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