These days I feel more like a groan up than a grown up. You know what I mean. Our times are tough. Very tough politically and environmentally for sure, even before the pandemic hit us. Now in my part of the world we are grappling with heat and wild fires as well. So many burdens to carry, and so little chance to talk it over, face to face, since we have been social distancing for months; especially those of us who are older. No spur of the moment coffee hours, or lunches. No family entertaining. If we have a visitor or two, it’s from a distance and always outside. They bring their own food and drink. It’s a bizarre way to host our guests. When we do connect, we have to spend a certain amount of time saying how bad things are, how impossible everything seems to be. How powerless we feel.
Our grandkids sit and listen while the adults talk. Wide-eyes over their masks, I can’t help but wonder how they will process 2020. Kids are resilient, I know that. But they also have limits. I feel like we are subjecting them to too much of our own anxiety and helplessness. But I see that not only are they sometimes bored, but more often than not, I see how they are managing to fill their time with little enterprises of their own. People like to be busy, especially kids.
One of my grandkids decided to raise backyard chickens this year, and to become a vegan. Although she will eat her own chickens’ eggs, because she knows they are well-cared for. They’ve become pets, really. She’s learning how the three of them relate to each other, what pecking order means, how they show they are hungry or just want some company.
Another of my grandkids took on painting an incredible mural on her bedroom wall. It’s astonishing, really, from the picture I’ve seen. She’s a talented artist and hasn’t wasted the gift of time she’s had this summer. Yes, sometimes we all feel we’ve been gifted with time, in spite of everything else that’s going on in the world.
My grandson has completed badges and certifications to become a full-fledged Boy Scout. Camping out in the backyard had to take the place of camping in the mountains or by the sea, but he was able to do a cook-out for his family and all the other things that go along with making a temporary home out-of-doors.
Now they are back “in” school, which means long hours of screen time, and hours of homework. They seem to have adapted very well to whatever we adults challenge them to do.
I do a lot of groaning, myself. All of my problems are first-world problems, I’m aware of that. But still they are problems, and they deserve to be acknowledged before they can be resolved. The quotidian tasks that go along with creating meals, making grocery lists for deliveries, keeping ourselves and our house somewhat clean and tidy, get more or less attention, depending on our psychic energy on any given day. I go down the rabbit hole of Facebook far too often. But then, it is a way of connecting. And without connection, I know I won’t make it through these next months.
So I am grateful for the Zoom meetings of my writing group, phone calls with friends, distanced visits in the backyard, online performances by generous musicians, kind delivery people and responsive medical providers to requests that normally would require an office visit, but now are dealt with on the phone.
I’m grateful for books, although more often than not I read a few pages, put the book down and wander off to another distraction. I’m grateful for Netflix, and BritBox for good entertainment. I’m grateful for the postal workers, the delivery people, the repair people who come to fix a broken pipe; the neighbors who check on each other and have a food-exchange going, freely giving of backyard fruit and vegetables, or even extra groceries.
I am not going to apologize for groaning when I need to, for complaining about how hard it all is. That’s just the plain truth of it. We have been trapped for so long, for so many months, and on so many levels. We have to own that or we won’t be able to deal with it. So I am groaning and owning, but recognizing that gratitude is also a part of being a fully enfranchised GROWN UP.
Still working on fully earning THAT badge!