A year with you

This year your father and I made the decision to keep all four of you home with us and have you e-learn. I can’t say there are many things I’ve done as your mom, where I KNOW we made the right decision – but this is one of them. You’ve all been home, with us, for the past 15 months, and it’s been the hardest, yet the most beautiful year I’ve had as your mom. Together I don’t think we’ve cried (both happy and sad tears), laughed, or yelled more than we have this year, and I’m so grateful for it all

Like so many of us, this year will have forever shaped the four of you. Every day felt like a new adventure and a new challenge.  You all learned to think on your feet, to be adaptable, and try new ways of doing things.  You learned how to make close friends through a screen, lead meetings from the back of a car in the desert,  how to have agency over your time and effort, be responsible, and independent.  How to take care of one another, make lunches for each other, and ask “how can I help?”.   

All four of you more than rose to the occasion this year and I couldn’t be prouder of each of you.  You blossomed this year and it was so beautiful to witness.  

Over the next few months, you may hear conversations about things going “back to normal”. Please know, there is no such thing. You can never go back. There is no such thing as normal.  And you, my sweet crew, are only moving forward with these new experiences. 

I don’t know if I can fully grasp how different our life is, how different you are, we are – from just 15 short months ago.  But it’s beginning to hit me just how much you’ve grown and how much we’ve all learned.

So, today, on your last day of e-learning at “home”, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on all the beautiful lessons this year gifted you.

You are more capable than you think

You, my sweet loves, are so darn capable.  I could see it in your eyes a lot over this past year, your uncertainty or worry creep in.  “How will I……?”   And each and every time you answered that question on your own. Figuring it out.  Without my help.  Fumbling your way through (sometimes with a few tears) but solving your own problems.  Growing your confidence.  Becoming more sure of yourself.  And not being so fearful of the “unknown”.

This is just the beginning of many moments where you’ll be in new, challenging situations.  Remember that you don’t have to know HOW you’re going to do it, or what it will look like, but KNOW YOU ARE CAPABLE.  You have the skills, the tools, and the answers all within you.  

You are never alone, even when it feels that way

Some of the biggest challenges we all faced this year were our social relationships.  Mine, your Dad’s, and all of yours.  Many of your friends had very different experiences this year (not good or bad, just different), and I know you all had moments when you felt alone.  I did too.  Choosing something “different” sometimes means separating yourself from the pack.  Whether you mean to or not.  It separates you.  And that’s not an easy feeling.  Even for me in my 40s.  

But I need you to hear me on this loud and clear.  You are complete and whole all on your own.   You will find over the years that the more you worry about “fitting in”, the more you will find yourself in a never-ending chase for validation you’ll never find.   

Feeling “different” or alone is scary.  It makes you vulnerable and question, “is it me?”.   But I promise you, you are perfect and complete and whole all on your own.  You will never feel that sense of “belonging” until you feel that on your own, in your own reflection, and in your own skin.  Then, my sweet loves, your people will come.  But no matter how “alone” you feel, you always belong.  And there is only one person whose opinion and view of you matters, you.

What makes you “different” is what makes you extraordinary, and the world needs more extraordinary.  

You will question even the very the best of decisions 

This winter I found myself in tears calling your school to see if I could get you back “in”. I felt like a complete failure. Had I made the wrong choice?  Had I failed you? 

Thankfully, your schools all said “no”, and within a few days of that phone call, we got back into our rhythm.  But I would be lying if I told you I was always confident in our decision.  I am NOW because we have the benefit of perspective.  But when we were “IN IT” and I mean, really in it (snowstorms and everyone fighting and IPads that kept dying), I found myself wondering if we made the right decision.

Even the best decisions you make, don’t always feel easy or crystal clear.  Moments of doubt will always arise.  But if you stay open, there are signs all around you that will reaffirm your instincts.  Look for those signs in moments of doubt and learn to trust your intuition.  It doesn’t mean you won’t have doubt, it just means that your faith has to be stronger.   You can trust your intuition.  It won’t fail you. 

Whenever you can, get outside of your own world

While I love the life we’re building here in Chicago, one of the biggest blessings this year was being able to “live” other places.  It’s never healthy to only know “one way” of doing things.  One way of living.  There’s a whole big world that does things differently than us.  That thinks differently.  Believes differently.  Lives differently.

Go explore.  See things.  Travel.  Try new things.  Gain new experiences and new perspectives.  The more you can expand your view of the world, the more you learn about other places and people, the more you learn about YOU.

No one lived a happier life because they got good grades

I don’t know if I should be saying this, but I’ll fill the four of you in on a little secret.  Your dad and I don’t really care what grades you come home with on your report card.  You’re all bright kids. Do your best. Take pride in your work.  And then let it go.  

If this year reinforced anything it’s that there’s so much more to your education than what’s reflected back in a grade.  

This year you learned how to lead groups virtually, how to problem solve on the spot, how to advocate for yourself, find unique solutions to really stressful moments.  None of that will show up in a grade.  

Education and learning are so much more than what’s reflected on a report card.  Keep your perspective wide on what learning means.  Don’t get tunnel vision.  Stay hungry to LEARN.   

I could write more but you’re all running around outside of my office now with excitement and I want to close my computer and run out and hug you. But before I go, and while I have you here, can I just tell you how crazy, wildly proud I am of you?

Never in my wildest dreams did I think our year would have been this, but it has been an absolute dream. 

I’m so excited for you to get back to your schools and friends and teachers next year, but man, am I gonna miss you.  I loved having lunch with you.  Eavesdropping on your calls.  Hearing you giggling.  Sloan barging through my door 99 times to print math pages.  Asher whistling everywhere he went.  

I think for so long I had kept our worlds separated (more on that another day).  I had such a narrow perspective of what motherhood could look like, what I could do WITH you here and around.  And this year has changed all of that for me.  Our worlds have completely merged and I’m not sure how to go back now.  

So thank you. Thank you for letting our worlds collide a little this year.  It has been one of the biggest honors of my life being able to witness this year through your eyes. 

If it wasn’t already possible, I totally fell in love with you each of you more this year.  

Now….. go erase those Ipads, let’s get them turned in and let’s get this summer started.

xoxo

Mom

 

Some of my favorite moments with you this year…

 

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