We have a running joke at our house. As our kids entered high school and college talk became common conversation, my husband would joke with our two oldest that they would always have a full ride at Mommy/Daddy University. Room and board would be covered, and they could have all the snacks and coffee they wanted! As college grew to be something we actually needed to explore and research, we would always jokingly put MDU out there as an option. Both of us knew this is NOT what either of them wanted so it was an easy way to calm nerves, get a few laughs, and of course many, many eye rolls as well.
Well as life would have it, both our college freshmen have been sent home to finish the school year, and we are now three weeks into Mommy/Daddy University. The first few days consisted of moving couches, mini-fridges, string lights and everything else a college freshman might put in their dorm room. Next, we set them up with workspaces that resembled their dorm rooms. Light up signs, small plants and more string lights were hung in hopes of creating a place for them to remotely finish their freshman year. As we tirelessly worked to make MDU an inviting and enjoyable place for them, it quickly became clear that no matter how hard we tried, there was a great feeling of loss. Couches, lights and even free coffee cannot replace the relationships, experiences and challenges they were engaged in at college.
In a moment’s notice their world flipped upside down. Loss, fear, but most of all change, are now everyday feelings for them. But not just college freshmen, these are feelings we are experiencing right now. Whether it be a college year cut short, a job termination or a graduation postponed, we are all experiencing change. Loss of hobbies, loss of normalcy, loss of peace of mind.
So how do we manage all these feelings? How do we live in the “new normal” yet grieve what we have lost? Even more, how do we stay grateful for all that we still have?
Each day at Mommy/Daddy University we ask our kids about their day. We talk about what they are learning, being challenged by, being annoyed by and being motivated by. We challenge them to choose each day how they are going to lean into the situation they are in. We challenge them, even in this unknown time, to choose joy, kindness and compassion. You see at Mommy/Daddy University those are the most important lessons they could ever learn. Sure, they need to learn Math, and how to write a good essay, but at our school of life we strive to become people who work hard, love others and spread joy. Grades aren’t given for good vocabulary or high test scores. They are given for being kind, helpful, and selfless. Not typical traits that are popular in school. But they are important to us, and to many of you as well, and are desperately needed in the world today, and everyday.
So long live MDU! Maybe I’ll even have to write a fight song or pick a mascot! And although it is not the school experience they were all looking for, I think the lessons learned here may be exactly what the world needs more of!
All of us are experiencing change. List some of the biggest changes you have ever had to adjust to.
In the midst of that change, what values are you currently hoping to develop more of in your family? What do you hope to develop more of in yourself?
Make a list and post it on the fridge! Be sure to give yourself an A just for trying!