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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Hekkelman-Piazza

parenting in the time of covid: the gifts in the grit

2020 is certainly not what I would describe fondly as the gift that keeps on giving, especially as a parent. It feels like this year is perpetually taking.

First it took our ability to hug and socialize, then it took our financial stability, our free

time and our access to childcare and education as we knew it. Then it showed us the harsh reality of racial injustice and the legacy of white supremacy that many of us had been asleep to. In that, it took away our innocence in a system that was never fully embodying our founding values of both liberty and justice for all. 2020 has generally ripped the rug of safety and ease and control out from under us. None of this, by any means, feels like a gift.

Covid-19 forced Family Village, the Longmont community, coworking and childcare center I helped found , to close abruptly on March 13th. And given we built the Village to address the need for parents to be in community and not feel so isolated, needless to say, this was a dramatic and excruciating loss to not only be separate from Family Village but each other and the well of support we’d built together.

It has also given us the time, the perspective and, frankly, a sense of urgency to really refine our vision for what we’d like our future within and outside of the Village to look like amidst the destruction of so much. Within the grit we’ve had to develop to endure the challenges this year has presented are some spectacular gifts.

The gift of insight. Employers and our lawmakers have a clearer understanding than ever of what it means to be balancing home and work life for parents. It’s finally understood, via kids crashing our zoom calls, that truly we are never just employees nor just parents. This creates the opportunity to push for changes like flexible work schedules, job sharing, parental leave and innovative childcare solutions that allow parents to thrive in all facets of their lives.

The gift of truth. There is now no denying the shaky ground we’ve been operating on as parents and the immense lack of support afforded us. We’ve also been awakened to the truth of racism in our country’s history and in our systems and sadly, many people’s minds. What we are seeing now is the reality of a broken and disconnected and fear-driven country we’ve been living in for quite some time. With this truth in hand, we can more productively become a part of the solutions to inequity and injustice, starting in our hearts and homes and then out in the world around us.

The gift of fiery rage. We’re beyond tired. We’re also pissed. Our overwhelming rage at the injustices we are experiencing and witnessing might be the very thing we need to move us to action. I don’t believe that we were built to simply withstand the chaos of what we’re experiencing. Rather, we were built to transform the chaos, transcend what we thought were limitations and build the safe, secure, equitable, flourishing world we dream of for ourselves, our kids and our communities. Many parents are feeling a sense of desperation, loneliness and, yes, rage. And that fire inside is the very thing we can use to point us towards our role in the rebuilding of our future.

We’re in the mud, parents. But from the mud grows the lotus. There are gifts here, even if they’re hard to see.

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