I want to start off by saying that I love plans and routine. I thrive when I know what to expect. So, as you can imagine, this whole social-distancing-for-an-undetermined-amount-of-time thing is ruining my whole entire life. Also, sometimes I’m dramatic.
Yesterday afternoon I could tell my family really needed a break from worry. I decided to use my love of plans to put together something special for my littles and my husband: Dinner Party Night! We told the kids to put on a costume and come up with a character and accent before coming to dinner. While we ate, we went around the table and each shared who we were, where we were from and tried to stay in character through all of dinner. This was going to be so fun. Delicious dinner, family time and cute pictures for social media? Sign me up.
Allow me to introduce to you:
- Becky Sue: farmer, loves beef stew (me)
- Reggie Thistleton: librarian in past life, current ghost (my hilarious and deeply dedicated husband)
- Queen Alaina: from “The South America,” 1⁄3 human, 1⁄3 mermaid, 1⁄3 part-cat (my 6-year-old lover of adventure and sparkles)
- Pig Bob: pig spy, only speaks pig Latin. That was about as fun as you’re imagining (my 9-year-old creative who literally asked if he was going to be graded on this)
THEN … THREE out of the four of us cried at different times. There was yelling, throwing, storming off, doors slammed, eye-rolling and a temper tantrum. Finally, as we wiped our tears and took a deep breath, we calmed down enough to eat dinner and play a game of Go Fish.
I was SO excited to have something I could actually plan and my family would love. I just knew if I mixed the perfect meal with playing a silly game and sprinkled in lots of laughter it would be perfect … Did you happen to guess that I was the one who threw a temper tantrum?!
Friends, I’ve decided that in this weird and uncertain time, good enough is good enough. I’ve decided to throw expectations out the window. I’ve decided to find joy anywhere and everywhere I can. It’s OK if every moment isn’t easy or fun or educational. It’s OK if the kids are fighting or you are fighting with the kids — it’s happening in EVERY. SINGLE. HOUSEHOLD. Don’t believe social media highlight reels. If someone tells you their house is full of rainbows, butterflies and kumbaya, don’t believe them.
As I am writing this, every human in my house is on a different device. Headphones in. No talking. No education. I am reading and writing and drinking coffee with a playlist of guitars lulling me into a peaceful state while my children watch OTHER kids play with toys.
Guess how much guilt I have: Zero.
Give yourself the grace and patience you would offer to your very best friend. Take a really, really hot shower. Spend some time outside. Take a break from the news. Be kind.
Aly Shahan is the associate director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at Oklahoma State University, mother of two and wife to a United Methodist pastor. She is passionate about building community with women through vulnerability, honesty, encouragement and laughter. Follow Aly on Instagram: @AlyShahan1