If you know me personally, you may have heard me say that sometimes life gives you a necessary dose of perspective in a particularly painful way. I have been thinking about that a lot these last few weeks. I would be lying if I said that life is easy right now. This is hard, friends. Everything we knew about how to live our lives, do our work, care for our families and friends has changed. We are changing. When we come out on the other side of all this, we will all be different.
I am reminded of my grandmother, who immigrated to America from Ireland more than eighty years ago. I always thought it was odd that she had a cupboard full of empty plastic containers, scraps of foil carefully folded to be reused. It was crazy to me that she washed and saved plastic cutlery from birthday parties and picnics for reuse. The total excess and disposable culture of America was a foreign concept to her – her childhood was one where desperate need caused her to be sent to Scotland in the third grade to work so she could help support her family. People who lived through the Great Depression had similar experiences. When you have next to nothing, you cling tightly to everything that you still have.
That brings me back to perspective in these days when it sometimes feels like we are trying to steady ourselves on constantly shifting sands. There has to be an upside to all of this, something to hold steadfast while everything feels out of our control. My children have now been home from school for three weeks now. In all of this, maybe that togetherness is the silver lining. Are there some major challenges that go along with being homebound with the entire family? Goodness, yes. However, the stoppage of all the extra curricular activities that had us running in eleven different directions, feeding our kids dinner in the car on the way from one lesson to another practice means that we are sitting around the dinner table together every night. We are taking the time to do things as a family that we haven’t done in the days BCV (Before Corona Virus).
Many of you have college age kids who have come home from campus or a study abroad program. Just when you thought you were getting the hang of the whole empty nest thing, boom, they’re baaaaack. This time you don’t even need to argue about curfew, and for the love, could you please just text us to let us know if you are staying at a friend’s tonight because we worry? You get them all to yourself. Thank goodness for that. Thank goodness for this extra time with them home in your nest when you thought that opportunity was gone.
The world is still going crazy all around us, but here, inside our homes, we have what matters more than anything at all, ever. We have family. First, middle, last. Always. Maybe in this shutdown you have learned the unfortunate truth that your husband is one of those “I’ll circle back to you” kinds of people on work conference calls. (Full disclosure: that is not my husband. As a lineman for National Grid, he doesn’t do conference calls, but he is an essential worker.) Maybe you have gritted your teeth when you looked in your daughter’s room and saw the dirty dishes and water bottles on her nightstand and wondered how hard it is to just put things in the dishwasher. (Full disclosure: this is both of my daughters.) But maybe, just maybe, you got to see some of the things that you were missing in the whirlwind of life BCV. To this, I cling.
When this is all over, I can’t wait to see you.
Jennifer B. Granzow
Ms. Granzow holds a JD from the Syracuse University College of Law. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of business and corporate law, real estate, economic development, and government relations, with an emphasis on grants and public funding.