Friday, May 21, 2021

Imagine


Imagine for a minute, you’re six years old. And after months of uncertainty, you’re happy to be back at the only school you’ve ever known with your best friends. And, without warning, an unimaginable storm comes tearing through your town. Imagine, at six years old, holding your best friend’s hand for the duration of the storm and singing to the babies around you in the hallway where you’re hiding.

Imagine that was the last day you’d ever attend that school.

Imagine being excited to start at a new school and being delayed for three weeks. Imagine during those three weeks, you must stay home with your dad who shoos you away consistently so he can do his job.

Imagine when you’re finally able to go to your new school, you have to enter alone. You enter a place you’ve never been with people you’ve never met. Imagine finding your way to your new classroom with a brand-new teacher-friend who you found on your own to help you.

Imagine only meeting half your class for weeks and only going to school every other day.

Imagine enjoying a somewhat normal holiday – dressing up with friends and grabbing candy from tables set up on a driveway. Imagine that because of that decision – to have some semblance of a normal childhood activity – you now have to stay home and learn from a screen.

Imagine then learning that your quarantine is extended and now includes over half your class. Imagine how exhausted your teacher must be. Planning multiple lesson plans each night.

Imagine celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with just your family to stay safe - from a virus and future quarantines. Imagine going back to school - but only every other day again. And on the off days, you’re once again shooed away from your dad’s calls - from his job that helps to keep the roof over your head.

Imagine finally getting to go back to school every day. But not understanding why you’re scratching your skin more. Why when plans are changed in a routine way, you melt into tears. You fume with anger.

Imagine, seeing people outside your school with signs. The signs say you shouldn’t wear a mask to your school. That maybe you – a now seven-year-old – should make that decision.

Now, imagine having to make that choice together with your family. With no warning. Early one morning. Another change you weren’t prepared for. Imagine, visually being able to see which family has made which choice. Imagine wanting to stay healthy. To not be quarantined again. Imagine not understanding any of it completely.

Can you even imagine, Iowa?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Something About Me.

I once interviewed for a job with a man who would be my senior if I were to get the job. He asked me questions. I gave him answers. Confidently. I watched him become agitated with each answer. I was offered the job. I declined.

The next day my phone rang. It was the man wondering if he was the reason I didn’t take the job. The conversation was awkward as we both knew something about me triggered something in him. I don’t think either of us knew what it was exactly.

I do know, in my bones, my presence does this to people sometimes. The stories are endless. The man who was consistently – in the words of a dear colleague – “a dick when he spoke to me.” Or the one who went out of his way to text me to smile in the middle of a meeting in which I was simply concentrating. Or the insinuation that my career success will never compare to my husband's, or that any gains I make are entirely due to luck.

I tell these stories because watching Kamala Harris get sworn into the second highest office in the land means something to people like me. Even if I disagreed with every policy she ever put forth, her presence in that office would mean something to me and so many others - so many whose experiences have been far more intense than those above. In my bones, I know she knows these experiences. And I think her knowing is important.

When I was young, my dad used to take me golfing with him. We’d both tee off, then he’d have me pick my ball up, and we’d play the hole together from where his initial drive landed. To keep up the pace of the game. Then, one day, we teed off, and my ball went further. I turned to my dad and said; “want to grab your ball and we can play the hole from where my ball is?” 

You know, to keep up the pace of the game.

He smiled. Proud. And laughed.

He taught me I could play the game with the big boys. Maybe even beat them. And, I’d be met with a proud smile.

So, as Kamala grabs the proverbial ball and moves it forward. I’ll smile. Proud. And hope what my dad taught me will become more true for my daughter – that she can truly play whatever game she wants with the big boys. And, in my bones, I’ll know she’ll probably out-drive them.

Friday, January 1, 2021

In the eye of the storm.

My husband and I built a house in 2020. I distinctly remember telling him when it was time to move, I wanted the kids to go stay with family. I didn’t want them to have to be in the middle of the chaos that is moving. I wanted them to come home and see their rooms unpacked. To find comfort in their new home right away.

In retrospect, this is hilarious. And, ridiculous.

We moved in April 2020. In the eye of the storm. With lockdowns in place, we had little help and were certainly not sending our littles to stay with family. The kids, they were right in the center of the chaos - carrying boxes and sleeping on mattresses on the floor.



What I learned this year, and I continue to learn, over and over, is that we can’t shield those we love from the storm. Whether that storm is figurative or a literal derecho. We must sit in the dark hallway with the fear until the storm has passed.

In 2019, we made the decision to keep our daughter at her small private school for kindergarten. We assumed, when it was time to transition her to the public school she’d attend for first grade and beyond, we’d have the ability to tour the school. We’d attend an open house and acquaint ourselves with the teachers and school. We were wrong.

When her first day came this year, I walked her to the front door of the school. That was it. She was on her own. My six-year-old was masked-up, walking into a building neither one of us had ever entered, being greeted by people we had never met. She turned to me, with tears in her eyes and said; “Mom, I don’t know where I’m going!”

I cried the entire walk home.

When I picked her up that afternoon, I quickly noticed a different bounce in her step. She was walking with more confidence as she told me about the teacher she met when she got to school that morning. She told me every turn she took to get to her classroom.



This is what I'm learning over and over. We can't shield ourselves from the storm. We have to feel the cold darkness. To cry on the walk home. To allow the fear to fill our eyes and bubble over. Because only then will we be able to walk out of this year with a different bounce in our step. With a little more confidence. Telling each other every turn we took to get there.

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