encouragement for a new day and a new way

A warm hello to all of you around the world, figuring out how to make life work for you and the little ones in your sphere in this rapidly-changing landscape.
Are you feeling a bit like you got caught in an unexpected windstorm?
Or in one of those Fun Houses with wonky floors and trick mirrors?
I think that is a universal experience just now.

Today, I want to address you as caregivers.
There’s a lot I don’t know about Orange Marmalade’s readership, but what I do know is 1) it is a diverse group — people from many different corners of the globe, with vastly different political views, faiths, households, interests, and
2) there are several strong cords of commonality — each of you has an appreciation for story, for the unique delights and deep beauty of children’s literature, and most of you have children in your lives — you are parents and grandparents, teachers and librarians, aunts and babysitters, children’s authors and illustrators — and you long to serve them with wise, strong, loving care.

from All of Us by Carin Berger

I, in turn, relish the opportunity to serve you.
To that end, today I want to simply offer you some encouragement as we keep wading into corona-land.

First — Breathe deeply. Literally, breathe deeply.
A lot of new stressors have likely just landed on your plate, and with whirlwind speed.
People around us have panicked and bought up all the potatoes and beans, for goodness sake!
Your kids’ concerts, sporting events, class trips, dance recitals, birthday parties…have all been canceled and you’ve got a disheartened crew in your household. You need to buoy their spirits, even as yours may be sagging.
Some of you are teachers suddenly, madly reconfiguring lessons for distance-ed while others are navigating school at home for the first time, juggling jobs and child care.
If you are not concerned about your own job, you probably know someone who is.

sketch by John Muir

This is a lot, friends, and like trees, we don’t gird up for the storm by becoming stiffer, but by allowing ourselves to bend a bit, to trust our roots and allow ourselves grace to sway gently in the breeze, or sway a lot in the gusts.
We do not have to manage this all perfectly.  We will not manage it all perfectly.
We can have grace for ourselves and those around us to get a few things right, mess up on others, drop some balls, feel utterly distracted some days, make a fresh start the next day,
and slowly learn a new way.
This is realistic and human.  Honestly, these days present golden opportunities to model for our children what it looks like to feel our way through uncertainty, fog, pot holes, twists in the road — with a measure of grace, patience, hope, humor, kindness, forbearance. Not perfection.

Second — please reach out for support. Those tree roots extend far under the surface, anchoring, drawing in life-giving water and nutrients.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, you need to tap into your wider network, rather than simply trying to muster up your own strength.
Be honest, spill your guts, cry on the phone…it’s all good, people.  You don’t have to go this alone.

For those of you with kids newly at home due to closed schools, my first piece of advice as a long-time homeschooler is:
Don’t try to replicate school as they know it.
You cannot do it. You will fail, and it will feel bad!
Instead, allow yourself and your kids a wide scope to imagine and lean into this newness with an eye for what is possible during this moment, whether that’s wildly different or mildly different.
Like searching for Easter eggs in an enchanted woodland, you may well stumble over some roots and stones along the way, but you may also discover something exciting and rare as well, something that can only be had because of this weird place you’ve landed.
Look for that.

from The Golden Egg by Elsa Beskow

For all of us, remember that a vast number of dear people are acting with uncommon good will, generosity, and kindness all over the world, despite the unsettling images of a few brawls over toilet paper.
Quietly, care is being provided to elderly relatives and neighbors,
grocery store workers are meeting chaos with smiles and extraordinary hard work though they never envisioned themselves at the epicenter of this kind of pandemonium,
folks are donating extra to food shelves,
business owners are forgoing salaries so their workers can be paid,
and those delightful Italians are singing on their balconies!
Take heart, and do good in your sphere.
Get information from valid news sources, yet don’t overwhelm yourself with the news. You already know this is what’s smart for you and your kiddos.

from Italy with love

“everything will be fine!”

As we walk together through such unusual, challenging circumstances, I have been asking myself what I can do to serve you all better.  I’ve got a lot of ideas, but I would love to hear from you if there is something in particular that would help you and the children in your care.
Last week I posted some comforting, heartwarming picture books; later this week I’ll have some titles highlighting generosity.
Are there other categories that would benefit you?
I’m also planning to offer links to resources from the kid lit community. This group of people is on the ball, offering up their services magnanimously and I hope to help you access as much of that as you want.
Are there are other resources that would particularly be of help?
Please let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

Peace and courage to you all!