Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

My kids’ school year starts in 41 days, and I have no idea and yet every idea what to expect . . . and I am already sad about it. I’m trying not to be pessimistic, but a quick glance around my state shows me that despite our state’s best efforts, things are still gonna be COVID-19 dicey in 41 days. Just this morning, before I even knew I’d be writing this, I had a few minutes of rare alone time with my rising high school junior, and I asked him to start emotionally preparing for learning at home quite a bit of the school year.

You see, I have no doubt that school will open as planned . . . 

But I also have no doubt that within a month or so, someone there will get COVID and the school will have to close for a while. And then reopen, and then close again. Rinse and repeat.

I’m not trying to be pessimistic, rather pragmatic. That insanely persistent virus is still VERY much with us, and with that many people in one place . . . it is pretty much a statistical certainty.

So, for my junior, for my 8th grader, and for my 4th grader, I’m kind of already grieving the certain uncertainty that will accompany this school year.

My youngest had a breakout year in 3rd grade. For the first time, he made good friends, he overcame some social delays, and he kicked butt academically. It was the first year with a totally positive parent-teacher conference, the first year I didn’t have serious anxiety opening up his “Friday Folder” . . . .and then it got cut off. And now, I doubt he will have the opportunity to really thrive in the classroom and socially like he needs to be able to do. He should be ready to embark on an amazing follow-up year, to solidify all the growth and positive changes last year brought. Will he just stay the same? Or will he go backward? In a non-COVID year, I’d be feeling carefree about his progress. Now, I feel the determination to keep on top of it. 

RELATED: I’m a Teacher and I Don’t Know What to Expect This Year Either

My 8th grader should enjoy her year as being the top of the junior high, pursuing a lead in the fall play and all the choir solos she worked so hard at voice lessons (via Zoom, LOL) to earn. Will they even be able to have choir class (singing has been proven NOT safe) or a fall play? Those are questions it hurts my heart to ask because an educated guess tells me the likely answers. What’s my child to do with no outlet for her passions? 

For my junior, his first year as an upperclassman is already starting out bittersweet, as his best friend just moved five hours away. Of course, they were only able to see each other a couple of times in his last months here. And this fall, when it’s time for him to throw himself into activities to ensure his class beats the seniors for the Homecoming spirit stick—he usually helps write, edit and produce the class video sketch—will they even be in school Homecoming week? Will there be a Homecoming football game or dance? Will these rites of passage just . . . disappear, like prom last spring? 

How do I, as a parent, compensate for that, or at the very least, help him cope?

I’m not crazy: I know that in the grand scheme of things if my family has our health, we have everythingI know my children have two loving parents, a safe home, and enough food and clothing. I know that. They know that.

But they are children, and I can’t expect them to adopt an adult’s perspective. So how do I help them mourn their losses appropriately and appreciate the enormity of what they still have? 

RELATED: Our Kids Have All Lost Something

Pandemic parenting, man. This may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I did not see it coming.

But I can see this weird school year coming, and it hurts. So I’m grieving it, yet with a thankful heart. Because I know we have it good, but the truth remains: even when things could be worse, it doesn’t mean they aren’t hard. 

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

You Gave Him So Much More than a Haircut

In: Child, Motherhood
Baby boy with long hair, color photo

“Thank you for cutting his hair,” I’ve told Emily many times in passing, or lightheartedly over text. I wish I could show her what it actually means in my heart. “I’ll go in by myself,” he says. Instantly, my mind flashes from the achingly handsome 10-year-old standing in front of me to the toddler he once was. I see his 2-year-old self standing before me in our mudroom. Fresh from Kids Cuts, a soggy sticker on his T-shirt that reads “I GOT MY HAIRCUT.” A red and blotchy face from crying, eyes swollen. The buzz cut was the quickest way...

Keep Reading

Having a Late Preterm Baby Is Hard Too

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

I see you, mama, who holds her breath while they bag your brand-new baby. Asking “is she okay?” and being met with “everything is fine” when you know that everything is not fine. The baby who was due in just a few weeks. The baby, who just a few hours earlier, you joked “wanted to surprise us early.” The baby who was fine on the monitors just minutes before. I see you, mama, when they tell you they are transporting your baby to the NICU. The baby you held for five minutes before they took her to the nursery for...

Keep Reading

You’re Never Alone in the Trenches of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

This one goes out to all the mamas in the trenches. To the mamas in the kitchen stirring dinner with a baby on their hip. To the ones waking up an hour earlier than the rest of the house to pump after waking up countless times throughout the night to attend to both your toddler and baby. The ones who must take care of business from lobbies, bathroom floors, lunch breaks, and the carpool line. To the mamas who pass on their own birthday presents so their kid’s medical bills can be covered. RELATED: This is the Sacrifice of Motherhood...

Keep Reading

Simple Moments Shape Childhood

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy in shallow water of beach

Sometimes it’s the little things that can turn out to be the biggest things. Motherhood has made me appreciate the everyday moments, the simple moments, differently.  Being outdoors with my boys can be simple in theory, but I absolutely love the adventures we take. Whether we are hiking, biking, swimming, exploring, or checking out a new park, this momma knows it is time well spent.  RELATED: I’m Watching You Grow Up in the Little Moments Because whether they realize it or not, these memories being made are the special ones. The ones my boys will carry with them in their...

Keep Reading

When You Stop Running into My Arms, I Pray You Run to Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child and mother walking on beach in sunlight

I love seeing the light in my little girl’s eyes when I pick her up from school at the end of the day. Her eyes open wide, and she runs to me loudly saying, “Mommy!” for all to hear. I pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss on her cheek. She smiles ear to ear and knows she is loved and adored. She feels safe in my arms, and I pray that never changes. I want to always be her biggest cheerleader and greatest fan–holding the streamers on the sidelines in shades of brilliant gold encouraging...

Keep Reading

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

A Strong Woman Does Not Always Feel Strong

In: Motherhood
Woman holding baby on beach, color photo

You feel weak, mama, but you are strong  We wear our strength in many forms, barely noticing the feats we accomplish daily.  The strength of a mom can be seen carrying grocery bags from the trunk to the house, upstairs and down again, with a baby strapped to her chest.  The strength of a mom is pushing two kids on swings next to each other while inwardly dealing with a recent miscarriage eating away at her heart. She holds back tears while picturing a newborn in a stroller nearby watching. And the hole deepens. Yet she carries on.  The strength...

Keep Reading

When You Feel Like You’re Failing, Know You’re Not Alone

In: Motherhood
Tired woman sitting in messy child's bedroom

Dear parent, you are going to fail. You are going to fail over and over again while parenting. I don’t care if you have nine children or one. I don’t care if you are a step-parent, an adoptive parent, or anything in between—you are going to fail. Over and over again. But the great thing about kids is God made them so resilient and forgiving, so He could show us grace on earth.  I have forgotten to send the paperwork to the school. I have forgotten about events and practices for the kids.  RELATED: I May Fail, But I’ll Go...

Keep Reading