Ever since Father’s Day I have been thinking about the standard in which we measure parents. The bar is an interestingly high one if you ask me. There are fictional terms applied to both mother and father and I can’t fathom who could live up to those heights. As much as we recognize ourselves to be individuals, much of our own parenting mimics those who raised us; generational gaffes or successes mirror back and forward endlessly. I always consider myself lucky in that my parents lived a long life, spent many of their days loving me, and shared their passion for art, music and enjoying the outdoors with their children. But beyond those gifts, they peopled my life with more family than one can count, and now that they are both gone, I am extraordinarily grateful to slip into any one of those extended family photos surrounded by cousins. After 15 hug-less months this June gathering felt like a dreamy step into a future impossible to consider pre-vaccine. Surrounding the 96 year old matriarch, who not only endured her confinement but did so with grit and humor, made our time together lakeside pure heaven.
Often I end my school year on a high, feeling each student’s gain as my own, each of their successes intrinsically linked to my doing. Well, perhaps that is a bit egotistically, but I do work very very hard all year long, meeting students where they are, and helping them make steps toward their goals, so often I celebrate their favorable results. Equally true is my sense of loss when they don’t hit the mark.
But this year, there is no meter or measurement that could calculate as it once did. While in dismissal, so many students worked through remarkable challenges to attend google meets whether on their beds, on a Spring-time sunny deck, sitting in isolation while in noisy kitchens, or even driving in a car, and often times with confusion and worry etched into their faces. Yet together we moved into unknown territory to find meaning and hope and the value in learning, despite uneven odds. There is little to discuss about school prior to March, as what followed was so unprecedented, but all the work I did (and teachers around the globe did) to keep students’ trust, to reenergize their enthusiasm, and to maintain consistent pathways for them to work remotely, were crafted and put solidly in place, and that speaks volumes. Students, many who were at first melancholy over everything they lost, gained strength from each other, from this new community, and worked diligently until the end. I am proud of their integrity and resolve.
There are always days which stay with you long after a season has been folded and packed away. Moments when you felt joy or purpose or transcendence or connection, when nothing stood in your way, blocked your view, held you back or caused doubt or fear to creep in. Summer, for me, allowed for a multitude of such glimpses into splendor. Perhaps you are nodding in agreement because of your freedom days: vacation time to dive in, soar above, or just sway on a porch swing. However you got there, I do hope you felt the divine. Sweet euphoria. And perhaps have garnered a few lessons of your own to remember when the cold wind strikes. Here are mine.