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Graduates of 2020, We Still See You

son depressed sad missing school friends

 

Dear Son,

We are at a place in our story that we never could have known about. As I dreamed of your 8th-grade graduation, school dances, high school graduation, I never dreamed I would have to see them all through the filter of a virus that brought the world to its knees.

What I do know, is this doesn’t change you or me. It doesn’t change how I love you, what an amazing kid you’ve grown into, and the potential inside of you.

This time is so hard, it can be easy to forget who you are. What your life was like before. What your future looked like. 

Related: 9 Things a Teen Boy Wants His Mom to Know

Let me remind you of all of the things you are, can be, and need to know as we navigate each day.

You are enough. You know I am fond of the saying “You can only do what you can do.” Well, it’s true. You are doing your best right now, you are straining your mental capacity and making do with inadequate circumstances, don’t be down on yourself for missed assignments, classes, or meetings. I know you are doing your best.

You will see your friends again. I agree that we don’t know what this will look like. I know you may not even be attending the same school when that happens. But you will see your friends because you all love and miss each other and you will make that happen.

Talking about your feelings doesn’t always make it worse. I get that sometimes you just want to be and you know what? But being strong enough to say you don’t want to talk about your feelings right now is also very valuable. Just know when you want to talk about your feelings, I’ll be here.

This is the perfect time to understand that caring for someone else more than yourself can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it can also mean the difference between life and death, something we never had to look at in the face before.

You still need to shower. Believe it or not, taking care of your body helps you to feel human. And don’t forget, when that day comes for you to see your friends again, you would probably rather not smell like the bottom of your dirty clothes pile. 

You still need to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I feel like this is a big duh. But I know from our arguments that it’s not. Your mental and physical health are very closely tied to your sleep, and whether you want to know the science behind it or not, I need you to trust me. 

This is a great time to learn about time management. Do I even need to explain this? If you get this down now imagine how amazing you will be at scheduling your afternoons when you are back following a school schedule.

Being part of the way this family manages itself, picking up after yourself, etc. is going to be one of the most valuable life skills you get out of this time. I know cleaning toilets was never on your chore list before, but imagine this, someday when you are living in your first apartment you will actually know how to do it! And the first time you have a girl over she will be so impressed that your bathroom is actually clean! Trust me, I’ve been there.

Interacting with your teachers and other adults has changed, but it doesn’t mean the rules of conduct have changed. Being polite, reaching out, thanking people for their time, it all still matters.

Now more than ever what you put in your body is going to matter. The temptation to snack on the easy unhealthy snacks is so strong, but there are other choices in the house and you can even make them happen without my help. But without good food, your body can’t fight and your body may need to fight soon.

Nothing in life will ever come easy. This is no exception but it will set you up for a lifetime of understanding that hard-work, patience, and persistence pay off. 

Being a good friend matters. Reaching out to friends who might be shy, might be afraid to reach out to you, matters. It might matter more than you think.

It might be time to re-evaluate what we see as success. I think we truly know that the measure of success is not your grades or your place in the social fabric. It is your ability to persevere in the face of the biggest challenge we hope you will ever face.

Discernment is so important. If you believe everything you hear or read you will drive yourself crazy. Turn on your filter, I know you have one. 

Your dreams STILL MATTER. Through this all your dreams may change, you might realize some things are more important than others but no matter what, on the other side of this, your dreams will still be there. 

It may not seem like it, but the rest of your life is still ahead of you. You will have a chance to figure out who you are apart from us, you will have your chance to test your independence. You will still grow into who you are meant to be.

When this pandemic passes, do not let the strain, depression, anxiety, define you. These are things we all had to struggle through. If you need help I hope you know you can ask for it. But know, this is not a weakness, this is something that everyone experienced, we all lived it and struggled in our own way.

The bravery that you are showing now is one of the best life skills you have.  And please be assured, this is bravery.

Your broken heart will heal. I know the losses are huge. So huge. And you will never get them back, this is true. But as time goes on you start to see these things in your rear window, the pain won’t be so sharp. You will make new memories and those will soften the old pain.

Cherish the things during this time that are good, like getting to know your friends better as you battle it out in a video game or connect over FaceTime.

There are people who are thinking about you and missing you. Even the pharmacist told me she missed saying hello to you and asked how you are doing. You are not forgotten.

In the end, remember your unique personality, the ideas you bring to any club or organization, are still going to be there. They will still be there when you walk back into your first after school club, sign up for the next talent show, or run for the next student council.

Now more than ever it is crystal clear that things won’t always go your way. But it is how you handle this setback that is the measure of who you are.

We may struggle to find meaning during this time. And the truth is you may never find it, but I hope you don’t become despondent over it. I believe there is meaning and there is a purpose and it’s possible you will see that someday. But sometimes we just can’t know, and we have to make ourselves okay with that.

And the most important thing I think. After dealing with this you will be able to deal with anything life hands you.

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