As our community starts to open after being closed down from COVID-19, there are so many questions to answer and so many unknowns for us as families. We have worked for months to keep our children safe and to care for them. We have been their parents, teachers and playmates. Now, as we start to interact again, a lot of questions are swirling.
What if, instead of looking back on this time at the challenges, we instead look for the opportunities? We as parents had an opportunity to really get to know all our children learn at school. We got to go on their Zoom classes and see them laugh with friends and do physical education with their gym teachers. We got to have the gift of time. We got to really spend time and know one another as a family. While it might have been a challenge, it really was a time of growth for us all, and a time where our resilience was tested, gone through and built. We learned what it really meant to care for one another and support our individual and collective needs as a family, on both good and hard days.
Another interesting opportunity was how our communities rallied. Teachers jumped into learning how to use technology to interact with their students and found creative ways to even do things like musical chairs. Our schools found ways to help us with food and technology. Resources in the community from health and other sectors figured out telehealth, and making it so life could still happen with support. Everyone took on asking the question of how, instead of what. It wasn’t a matter of whether families would be supported, but the unique ways we could address and meet the needs while staying safe. There was a spirit of collaboration among community groups because COVID taught us that we are stronger as a collective instead of working in silos and isolation. At the end of the day, it's great when a group can see what they did. But when people come together to meet a collective need, that is success.
Finally, what if COVID was a time for us all to slow down and really take a look at ourselves as individuals? It is easy as a parent to get caught up in the busy routine of work, kids and day-to-day. However, even with the new “normal,” we had many more opportunities to think, do and be different. For some, it may have felt like one day of chaos to another, while others found a new routine. Either way, we have had time to think about what is important. What do we prioritize? How do we spend the time we are gifted each day? Are we always going and doing, or are we taking time to feel our kids snuggle up with us and the cute way they breathe once they fall asleep? What did we encourage our kids to do, and even ourselves to stay resilient? How did we explain and view the world that has so dramatically changed to our loved ones?
There are a lot of possible answers to these questions, and all those to come. My hope for each family in this community is that they will know how resilient they are because we are here today. Also, I want them to know that we need to appreciate our differences because that is not always a negative thing. What is right for one is based on their experiences and the place they are coming from. COVID will one day be just a part of our history. What is the story we want to leave with that? What if we looked at it as an opportunity to be different, do different, and interact in new ways that build on relationship, trust and a real sense of community where we can come together for a greater collective good? What if we built our communities on the concept that families are essential and need to not just be served and supported, but be part of the serving, supporting and visioning for a brighter tomorrow.
Kara Georgi, of Auburn, is the mother of two children. In addition, she is the co-chair of the Alliance National Parent Partnership Council, is on the Parent Leadership Team for the state Office of Children and Family Services, is a trainer of the community cafe approach and is a certified trainer in the Protective Factors Framework. She is also recognized as a tier-two state Parenting Education Partnership parenting educator.
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