Family Resilience During The Pandemic
By Laura McMullin, PhD
As I reflect on how our family navigated the pandemic, I become more aware of the profound resilience that we’ve had to rely on to move through these challenging times.
At the beginning, like everyone else, we did our best to adapt quickly to the abrupt and profound changes with schooling, work and home life—all separate worlds that suddenly blended into each other in both challenging and also delightful ways. Resilience in the early part of the pandemic looked like keeping an upbeat attitude, being flexible, and trying to make a scary and unreal situation more like an adventure for our children who are 3 and 7 years old.
The pandemic quickly deepened in complexity as the rise of awareness around racial injustice resurfaced on a grand scale throughout the country and globe, which made navigating the times with young children all the more challenging, especially as a mixed-race family. As parents, we were processing our own grief and sadness while simultaneously trying to figure out how to best support our children through the intensity of the times. It helped so much to focus on the hope that was sparked by social movements throughout the world as well as the solidarity we felt in the workplace and among our wonderful school community.
We found strength in inspiration as we witnessed the rise and resilience of the human spirit while moving through the pain of injustice and continuing to practice being the change within our own spheres of influence.
Given the profound pain, suffering and loss in our world, I’ve realized over time, that the resilience we experience as a family comes from a number of conscious practices: 1) cultivating sincere gratitude for all our blessings, big and small, 2) nurturing relationships within the multiple communities that we belong to, 3) managing stress and our emotions as best as possible, 4) maintaining hope and optimism, 5) infusing joy, play and creativity as much as we can throughout our days and 6) always honoring the preciousness of life while continuing to work towards embodying our family’s values around peace, kindness, compassion, consideration, fairness and love within ourselves and everyone we interact with.
These practices have helped buffer our family from extreme stress while also supporting us in bouncing back stronger from the range of challenges that have abounded during the pandemic.
Something I learned throughout the year is that both pain and joy can exist in the same space and being able to hold both has been extremely helpful in navigating the times.
What has also been a HUGE source of strength and support for our family is having the opportunity to be a part of an amazing school community. As the school year approached, we enrolled our 1st grader in a new school (where we hadn’t met anyone in person), which also had the distinguishing element of being a brand new school that was opening its doors for the first time during a pandemic, which is an incredibly unusual and unique situation.
We are extremely fortunate to have found our way to Citizens of the World, West Valley during our school search process. After an initial zoom meeting with the principal (Jennifer Mansfield), we instinctively felt that this was the right school for our daughter. Even though there were many unknowns, we needed to make tough decisions and ultimately had to rely on our intuition as parents to feel our way through the confusion and uncertainty of the times.
Our schooling experience with CWC, West Valley during the pandemic ended up being better than we could have possibly imagined, thanks to our child’s amazing teachers, exceptional school leadership and awesome school community.
In the end, what has gotten us through everything is the love we share within our family, being a part of a wonderful school community, being intentional about nurturing relationships with friends, neighbors and coworkers and infusing as much fun and joy as possible in our home.
And for me personally, I would add that spending time in nature and taking time to go inward for peace, inner guidance and spiritual renewal has also been fundamental in helping me return to center time and time again amidst the winds of change and the intensity of the times.
Like everyone else, our family is doing the best we can to move through it all. Our resilience has come in large part from living with gratitude while savoring the preciousness of life and appreciating the greatest blessing of all: every breath we are gifted that allows us to keep moving forward in the wild adventure of life, as challenging and as wonderful as it can be.