As a wife and mother of 4, Stacy LaFontant, is a passionate child advocate and early childhood educator based in New Jersey. After a virtual meeting between the superintendent of schools and school administrators regarding next steps for the upcoming academic year, she wrote the following thoughts about the understandable fears plaguing parents. Spoiler Alert: She has faith that parents will rise together to meet the challenges as they unfold.
As WE continue to enter the unknown, the realization begins to settle in that our “new normal” will never feel like our “pre-pandemic normal.” Most school districts have sent out surveys giving us clues on what we should be expecting of the 2020 school year for our children, for our family, for us — and all one can think of is HOW? and WHAT? How is this going to work? What am I going to do? How am I going to work? What the f*@k is going on?
Anxiety, stress, confusion, have entered the body of thought of every parent all while little eyes are looking up at you for the answers, the reassurance, the pep talk, the endless possibilities of what each individual child may be needing at this time. But guess what? Ultimately, they are looking at you and me and learning by how we navigate this moment. We are living in “real time” with unbelievable teachable moments. Navigating Covid-19, racial injustice, politics (election year) and social/emotional breakdowns all intertwined in one big stressful, teachable moment.
This is a lot to untwine. However, we were made for this. You were made to navigate this. I was built to travel through this. That is what I want to remind you of, or maybe this is a reminder to myself. That I was made to be able to handle this, to figure it out, to give this moment a purposeful purpose. Now that I have stated that you and I were made for this moment, I think it should be clear that we can, have, and will make mistakes as we journey through this moment. We might find ourselves making a left turn when it should have been a right, but ultimately, we will find our way. We will navigate this time to our level of comfort. We will find a way to guide ourselves, our children, our families, our communities. We will find a level of “normal,” whatever that may be.
This new norm is going to come with trial and error, as it should. Often that is how we learn our lasting lessons. We tell our children “it’s ok to be afraid, to pick yourself up when you fall, work things out with your friends/peers even when it’s hard, try your best.” Sometimes as adults we forget those rules still apply to us.
WE the adults and parents are being studied right now. Our expressions, our actions, and our words are being studied by our children, our friends, and others. We are looking to each other for answers, solutions and reassurance. I may not have the answers, but I do know that I was made for this, you were made for this. WE were made to be here in this moment navigating this unprecedented time together, not having all the answers but having the will to figure it out, finding a way and creating a “new normal.”
WE together will channel our inner childlike resilience. We will dry our tears (because those moments will come), we will face our anxiety with a calming glare (knowing that worrying won’t solve anything), we will remind each other of the basic needs of all humans.
WE will work together to find ways to be neighbors again and teach our children true kindness and acts of community in the real sense. During these unknown days, we will learn about empathy again, especially since right now we can all empathize with one another like no other time in which we have experienced as a country.
WE will answer the “how’s” and the “what’s” the way WE always do — believing in ourselves, believing in others and finding ways even when it’s hard. Parenting, in general, is not easy and there is no perfect parent manual, but it is especially difficult with all that we are facing today. Give yourself a break, just as we allow our children to make mistakes because we know that is how one learns, allow yourself to learn.
Stay hopeful, be creative, make thoughtful choices, trade in the distress for a feeling of endless possibilities and just know that you are not alone — in this together are WE.
I am always aspiring to look for ways to motivate, inspire and help make positive impacts. Music feeds my soul, children give me hope, faith keeps me grounded, advocacy is necessary and laughter is a must.
— Stacy LaFontant