Finding Blessings Amidst Hardships

I’m grateful for the opportunity to write this for Collegiate Parent. To read article on Collegiate Parent, click here.

Moms and dads, we can find calm in this storm. We can find good in a sea of uncertainty.

How can we shift our focus? I draw from the inspiration that led me to name my blog Mom in the Moment. We can all minimize worry and maximize joy by connecting with the good in these moments.

The other day, my husband and I drove to retrieve our son’s belongings from his dorm because his school (like most universities) enacted mandatory move-out and he will finish the college year at home. Being on the open highway, seeing other cars and trucks (not as many as usual, of course), feeling the fresh air and sunshine and seeing farms and homes offered perspective and made me feel lighter.

Take a deep breath (or many) and allow some calm and joy in. Turn away from the news for a moment, and tune in to your life and the beautiful blessings all around us.

Blessings are often hidden amidst hardships or challenges.

Right now the U.S., and most of the world, is navigating circumstances we’ve never faced before. People worry about their health, their finances, the discomfort of the unknown. Many don’t have safety nets. They may be separated from loved ones.

Our concerns and fears are natural, and we absolutely should feel how we feel. But worry won’t alter the future one way or another; it only takes away today’s peace.

Like it or not, we’re being forced to slow down, and to spend more time with our families. This is a precious gift and, if we embrace it, we’ll not only be happier and more fulfilled now, we could also enrich ourselves for the future. Might we change how we live our lives — what and who we prioritize? In these unprecedented times we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a shift, an awakening of sorts.

Photos show us how the earth is healing in places around the globe, such as the canals in Venice. We humans are healing, too. I pray we take much of it with us when this passes so that we truly take a leap forward and don’t just settle back into our old ways.

It’s our choice how we react to this unparalleled situation.

These are still moments we can cherish, in which we can be present and in which we can create something good, perhaps very good and everlasting. We can, and should, try to shift our focus. Hope is a powerful tool, as is the ability to gain perspective from those before us who weathered different unimaginable storms.

The future is uncertain only as to when. What is certain is that in an undisclosed amount of time it will come, and that is a source of hope and light. There are so many things we can’t do right now that will feel so special when we can do them again! When this is over, many of us will rediscover our love for our job and appreciation of face-to-face time with co-workers. We’ll BBQ with neighbors, visit elderly friends in their retirement and care facilities, play pick-up basketball at the gym, relish a meal at a restaurant.

Planning for the future can help us feel happier in the moment. Think about some of the things you want to do when the future becomes the now. My family finds joy anticipating when we can sit at a local coffee shop, wander through the (fully stocked toilet paper) aisles of Target, and reschedule our trip to Los Angeles.

Those of us with teens or college students face a unique set of challenges and blessings.

Challenges, because our kids are having to transition from their independent and busy lives on campus to living back at home with their us. Classes are now online and it might take some time for them to get the hang of learning in this way.

College students are still full-time students. Doing an entire course load online will be far from easy for some. Others will adapt to the online approach, and appreciate the flexibility. Each child is different and the best thing we parents can do is to keep the lines of communication open, validate their feelings and create a consistent, loving home environment.

Here are some ways to ease your college student’s anxiety:

  • Help them establish a routine and support/honor it
  • Suggest they pick a non-academic, creative, personal goal or project to work towards (my daughter’s friend plans to make a pair of pants from scratch!)
  • Remind them to focus on what they can control, as this brings calm and keeps them in the present
  • Encourage them to be kind to themselves – to indulge in more self-care than usual

And remember – there are so many blessings! We get this cherished gift of extra time with our teens/young adults. Time to appreciate each other, get to know each other more deeply, help each other cope with frustrations or worries and just enjoy each other.

My son is going to teach me to play chess. My daughter and I are going to walk and stretch, cook and bake. My husband and I are talking more and helping each other stay grounded. We can connect with precious extended family and friends through phone and FaceTime visits.

For those with younger children, you have the opportunity to help your kids with schoolwork and enhance those lessons with life lessons. Children can observe and help with meal planning, cooking and chores like laundry and cleaning. Walks in nature bless us with fresh air, calm the soul, exercise the body and present so many non-academic learning opportunities.

The internet opens a whole new world of possibilities for both academic and cultural learning, plus the chance to socialize virtually. You’ll find virtual tours of museums, national parks, zoos and aquariums, and even other countries! If you are being asked to stay indoors, rediscover the fun of creating art and craft projects from found materials in your home, and letting your children use their imaginations to create their own games and fun.

This time of crisis will pass.

The point is to tune in to what we have and can control, instead of worrying about what we don’t currently have or can’t control. Let’s not let the crisis dictate who we are. Rather, let how we made the most of the moments, and cultivated love, compassion and faith, be what shines now and what defines us when these tumultuous times are behind us.



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