“Starting tomorrow, you have to stay in your house for a year. Your kids won’t be able to go to school. You’re going to have to try and do your job from home. You won’t be able to see your friends or any of your family that doesn’t live under your roof. Forget about holidays and vacations and anything you had planned in advance for. Cancel it all; it’s not happening.”
If someone had said those words to me a year ago, my family would have said, “No. We can’t. We won’t be able to do that for a year.” But we did. And so did you.
Of course, it happened more slowly, with new information trickling in every few days. But those early March messages were grim – especially in the New York City area, where I was receiving them.
Obviously, things evolved in the coming months. We did leave the house – for walks and, eventually, groceries. We were able to see a doctor if we needed to. We figured out how to visit grandparents in a way that was safe. We reevaluated what was most important and modified established ways of doing things based on ever-changing information. We called upon our ingenuity and our flexibility and tried to keep our growing list of sorrows and disappointments in perspective.
This is what it means to be resilient.
We all try to teach our kids resilience as we raise them – reframing events like losing a soccer game or not getting a part in the play. We explain to them that it’s okay if not everything goes the way they had hoped.
And now, a year later, after they have had countless opportunities to practice those lessons, we need to let our kids know that they’ve done a great job.
It’s important for kids to recognize their own ability to be flexible and to cope.
And so why not put aside some time to talk to your children about how they were able to come through what may be one of the toughest in their lives.
It doesn’t matter the child’s age – whether two or twenty-two, this was a year of extraordinary loss. Maybe they’ve had to experience the grief of losing a loved one, maybe they’ve weathered the sadness of not seeing friends. Some children have suffered only the disappointments of cancelled birthday parties and cancelled vacations. Many others have suffered much worse.
But loss is loss, and no matter what type of loss your child has experienced, I assure you, it has not been easy.
When we take time to explain to our children how getting through hard times makes us more capable of getting through future hard times, it allows them to see life’s unavoidable challenges as something they’ll be able to handle.
When we name and acknowledge our resilient actions and attitudes, it allows us to draw upon those lessons with more confidence in the future.
For my part, I am planning a night of reflection for my family, where we will all talk about the events that were hard – and the moments that brought us joy (thankfully, we’ve had many!). We will take time to notice the ways in which we were able to adapt. I will challenge my kids to say those things out loud, so they can really take in the many ways that they’ve contributed to their own resilience.
I’m also planning on having a loud pot-banging session, reminiscent of the 7p.m. New York City ritual of opening up the windows and cheering for the hospital workers as they changed shifts. I want to commemorate the moment with something noisy and strong. We’ll be on Zoom together, as my kids are in different states again. We’ll each have a pot or a pan, a metal or wooden spoon, and together we will create a cacophony to mark an anniversary that no one ever thought we could reach.
Maybe you’d like to join us!