I Have One Goal for My Family and It Will Have to Be Enough

Twenty-twenty will probably not win any favorite year awards for most of us. If ever there was a “walked uphill in a snowstorm” year it’s 2020. Even though the year has been incredibly challenging…all the normal good things still managed to happen. People fell in love. Babies were born. Puppies were adopted. New businesses were started. Graduations happened.

Milestones were reached. Relationships were repaired. Jobs were secured. Miracles small and large were witnessed. Unfortunately, during a challenging year, all the normal bad things also happened. I won’t even list them.

We’ve all had enough. And now we head into a new school year during possibly the weirdest time any of us have ever experienced. I’ve come to the tough conclusion – it just might not all be up to me and my big plans and I’m going to have to let about 1,200 things go.

Making progress is my one goal for this year. (Twenty20 @MusingsOfAmber)

When my kids need to make a decision, I tell them to think about the future

When my kids need to make a big decision, I tell them to think about 3 weeks and 5 months and two years from now and I need to eat a big slice of my own advice right now. School is extremely important in our household. Important to the parents and important to the kids, albeit for different reasons.

I have a college sophomore, a high school junior and a newly minted middle schooler. This school year is going to be one for the books but I’ve decided it doesn’t have to be bad if I don’t make it bad and I need to suck it up and set the tone. My attitude about it is 100% under my control and that is about all I’ve got except for providing cookies when someone has a bad day.

The college kid is back in person. Tiny school. Huge campus. The university has made some plans, changes, investments. Nobody knows how it will go. I’m beyond encouraged that they are beginning the year with the best of intentions and comforted to know that if it all goes to hell-they have a plan for that too.

We had the big talk with the college kid. If they go online, she stays. If they send them all home, we will deal. Is it perfect? No. Is it what we want? No. Is it costing a lot? Sure. But we made the decision we think we will all be happier with in 3 years.

The high schooler and middle schooler are online. There was no choice for the high schooler. Our district chose it and we accept their very tough call. We will make it work. We chose 100% online for the middle schooler (he had 2 days a week in person available to him) for a variety of reasons but the most foundational one was to lower the stress level for him, me, our family and to do his teachers a favor by having one less body in the room.

Projecting forward, we believe that this will be the best choice of all the strange choices. He will be fine. We are a lucky family this school year. The luckiest of the lucky. We have good technology given by the school. Great teachers. Their sports are still happening even though modified, but it will help keep some semblance of normalcy.

My goal is to have a “good enough” year

The refrigerator is full of food. If I have my way, we will soon have the best Wi-Fi signal in a 4-mile radius because I can’t take one more minute of moaning about slow Wi-Fi. We learned in the spring that streaming 6 devices, 20 hours a day is not adequately supported by our current system.

And there is me. I feel responsible primarily for their experience in this house especially this year. We aren’t even going to bother with my legendary canned (lengthy) speech about doing our best. No such speech this year. We are going with GOOD ENOUGH.

We will make a list of reasonable accomplishments

We are not striving for the highest achievements. We are not going to try to win 2020. We are not going to collect medals or shiny certificates. Not this year. We will create a reasonable list of tasks. We are going to do whatever it takes to foster solid mental and physical health and hopefully make some forward progress in our learning. That’s it. Just progress of any kind.

Maybe we will learn some patience. Maybe we will extend a little more grace to friends and even more to strangers. Maybe we spend more time at home and the pace will be slower and some of us will love it and others will feel like it’s a hostage situation. Because I don’t want to look back and think that all my priorities stayed exactly the same during the most bizarre time in my entire life.

I want my children to still have a love of learning, an interest in school, relationships with friends and teachers, and gratitude for the opportunity to learn and play if and when we return to “normal.” Not everyone even gets the opportunity to get an education. Maybe we can grow a bit more grateful this year. That’s good enough for me.

We are lowering the bar on goals this year

My co-worker said her goal through the pandemic is to smell good the whole time. Keep showering. Keep using the deodorant. Put on clean clothes. Fresh clean hair-always. Don’t let 2020 win the war on human hygiene. I love that goal. We will add that to our reasonable list. It’s good enough. She smells amazing and I can tell even through my mask. My two sons could take a page from her playbook.

I’m working as hard as possible toward a good enough year. It will be good enough for me because I have decided to make it so and on the bad days I will join in with eating the cookies. And I will shower. Circle back with me in three years and ask me how it was and hopefully I will be able to discuss it with you standing only two feet away.

More to Read:

What College Students Want Parents to Know About Drop Off  Here is what your student wants you to know about drop-off.

6 Reasons Why Moms Cry When They Leave Their Kids at College Gorgeous writing by Helene Wingens that explains these intense feelings when we say goodbye.

About Jen LarsenFortner

Jen Fortner lives in Minnesota with her husband, three children and the best dog on earth.  She has a MSW degree that never gets used other than to diagnose family members at holiday gatherings. She has a blog at mymildlifecrisis.com where she tells stories about her family that they never read.

Read more posts by Jen

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