Things are uncertain, to say the least. One of my main clients told me that she doesn’t think she’ll need my writing services for now since their organization has essentially shut down. After we got off the phone, I felt nauseous. While just a few days ago I had more work than I could manage, thank G-d, I suddenly faced a new reality. My husband has been in a commission-only job the past 12 years, and that, too, has suddenly changed.
And I started to think about all the people in similar situations and all the industries affected by this seeming craziness… We are all in this together! We are figuring it out as we go –– as individuals, as families, as communities, and as one big interconnected world.
A few months ago, which now seems ironic, I started homeschooling three of my children by choice. It was the right decision for us as a family and we spent the beginning figuring out how to navigate that new world. Our children began to blossom, exploring the world around them and asking questions about EVERYTHING.
In school, they were told minute to minute, bell by bell, what to do and learn and memorize. They were tested and tried constantly to meet the standardized expectations set for other children their age.
But who are they? What makes each of them unique? What do they really like?
We have explored these questions together the past few months, through trial and error and schedules and free time. Art, math and science and learning that doesn’t always — and almost never — fits neatly into just one category.
It has been fun and messy and never boring as I balanced working from home with helping my children learn. And as it turns out, human beings are designed to WANT to learn. When it’s not forced upon them, when they have a say in the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ and the ‘where’…
And everything is learning. There is no separation between school and life. Life is learning. Informal conversations while cooking with them, cleaning the house together, grocery shopping and budgeting and interacting with adults and peers and siblings. And watching us, their parents, disagree… then regret our mistakes, work things out and keep going. This is real learning.
They are learning the most by watching us as adults re-discover ourselves, face our own fears, and how we react to this new unprecedented situation.
Are we doing it with grace? Are we reminding them and modeling for them our solid belief that IT’S ALL GOOD. Really. It’s all good.
It doesn’t feel like it right now. It’s scary and chaotic and messy and uncertain.
But I have never been more certain that this, too, is for the good. Yes, people are getting sick and people are dying. I can’t pretend to know what it feels like to lose someone to this disease, G-d forbid. My heart breaks when I read some of the stories from Italy and other places. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I couldn’t breathe, but I prayed and talked myself through it, one deep breath at a time.
And as I try to delicately share news and current events with my children, I remind myself and them how precious life really is. That we get to wake up again each day is something we often take for granted.
But all we can try to control at any moment is our thoughts and how we LOVE.
That’s all I really want to do now — to love. I told my kids as I woke them up this morning after we said Modeh Ani together…that the seemingly bad news is that I sort of lost my job. But the good news is I have all this time to focus more on them (and myself, which makes me a happier person overall). They asked me a bunch of very practical questions, some of which I could answer.
Then we cuddled up on the couch together, said our morning prayers, and made a plan for the day that we may or may not follow.
But either way, even in those dark moments when love and safety and certainty feel so far away, it helps to take a walk, look up at the sky, breathe deeply. Think of how precious and good that breath is. Seek out the people online who are sharing positivity. It’s amazing how this new reality seems to be bringing out the best in many people.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks and days and moments, we are in this together. And that’s truly beautiful.
The world can really use some inspiration. If you feel inclined to share, please send me your experiences, your ups, and downs, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love and gratitude,
Mindy Rubenstein has worked as a journalist and writer since 1998. She helps nonprofits and schools with website content, writing, and editing. In her spare time, she also helps women and children express themselves through writing. She has written about her Jewish journey for various publications, including Aish.com and Chabad.org. You can read some of those articles here. She and her husband live in Florida and have four children.