Encouragement takes many forms. Some people encourage via text message or by making a meal for a neighbor. Others by sharing their penchant for creating novel toddler-occupying activities or by putting pretty fonts on Insta-perational quotes. And I’d like to raise a glass to all the men and women out there using their giftings to support and lift up our world right now. It’s not always easy to pour into someone else’s cup when yours is already down to the dregs.
So in the spirit of using the talents God gave you, I’d like to offer up one of my greatest discernible skills: making excuses. Only this time, I’ll be excusing you (and hopefully in turn, you’ll excuse yourself) from feeling compelled to worry about the following list of things. You’ve got enough on your plate right now, so scrape these burdens into the trash and then pour some dish soap all over them.
1. You are Not a Pilgrim.
For my first dispensation, I’d like to offer you complete and total forgiveness for being born during the 20th century - a time when most of us were not brought up learning how to churn our own butter or sew our own face masks. And as such, your list of top priorities does not to include a line that reads, “Feed Sourdough Starter.” Take it from a woman who has ruined many a sourdough starter during Regular Times – this is not a headache you need.
If you love baking, gardening and/or curating the perfect backyard chicken colony – party on. But please hear me when I say that now is not the time to start game of real life Oregon Trail - unless you want to.
2. Unsubscribe. Unfollow. Un-Look Out the Window
We have to stop concerning ourselves with how others are responding to this crisis. If you don’t agree with them, it will eat you up inside and you don’t need that. What you need is to keep your insides functioning as a pristine oasis of well-being so that they can adequately enjoy that “Mug Cake 4 – 1” you made to eat after the kids go to bed.
3. Deactivate Pinterest
HAHA. Not Really. How would you know how to create “The BEST One Pot Crockpot InstaPot AirFryer 3-Bean Chili EVER?” What I mean is, you do not need to plan and prep 10,000 crafts and activities for your kids. Your offspring can and should experience boredom sometimes. You don’t need to order five cases of glitter and popsicle sticks off of Amazon to be a good mom. And nobody, not NOBODY needs to make any more slime. Just stop with the slime.
Your kids are going to learn. They are not going to fall behind. Read books together. Move your bodies. Play outside (if you can) and let their imaginations do the heavy lifting.
4. Books are cool. But Have You Ever Heard of TV?
Remember when we all said we’d read more books “when we had the time?” Me too. We were so young and naïve then. I’d also be willing to wager a DVR full of Real Housewives episodes that you most definitely do not have more time right now. You might be at your house more, but the demands placed on you are 10,000% higher than they’ve ever been before.
Maybe reading doesn’t relax you. And that’s okay too. I tried to read The Power last week and nearly had a full blown panic attack. Read if that’s your thing; don’t if it’s not. Find the thing that feels good to you and do that. Try a podcast or a virtual yoga class or scream-singing in your parked car. Whatever gets those endorphins flowing. It doesn’t have to look good in an Instagram story to be worth doing.
There is no one right way to be right now, but if I’ve learned anything from this time it’s that you need to forgive your own mistakes and missteps and focus on what makes you and your family whole and healthy. Don’t worry about what the world says you should be doing – find an anchor, a center and a true north and steer yourself in that general direction. The course might be rocky AF, but we will get there - and when we do, you’ll be glad you don’t have to deal with the metric ton of glue sticks and contact paper you ordered during quarantine.