The Way Back

Image thanks to Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash

So what’s the road back? How do we get back to ourselves and each other?

This may be the harder question now, as we’ve all figured out how to wash our hands like a competitive sport, figured out how to even teach our toddlers to social distance (perhaps the most painful thing about all this) and maneuvered to some degree, a daily life and routine that include more accessories than that diaper bag used to hold.

But how do we get back to each other? To us? To break down the boundaries between us?

I’ve had several conversations lately, and it’s been a tricky tightrope walk for all of us. We’ve all agreed that to some degree, we’ve figured this Corona-life thing out (it’s not an exciting gig—I think we can all agree we’re sick of it) but, for the most part, we’ve figured it out. It’s somewhat familiar now.

But for some of us, like us in Texas, with big wide-open spaces and big hair, well, re-entry to somewhat “normal” is an option. Some of us may be able to still stay six feet away from someone else because of the size of our hair alone. But there is a wrench in our routine again.

Now this re-entry thing is possibly the new thing to maneuver through. How do we do this safely? What are the rules? Just how?

The new fear is I don’t think the virus as much as the hope for somewhat normal and how to return without all the judgment of the neighbors and how we’re failing and/or doing “too much” re-entry. I love my state but sometimes the judgment seems to go along with everything that is bigger in Texas. Which may just mean we have way more opportunity to lean in wide and big with grace.

The only advice I have (which I’m still working on putting into play because, well, anxiety and vulnerability) comes in a story from my daughter’s playdate with a new friend a handful of years ago.

The other mom and I were not quite friends yet (meaning, our kids were in the same class, so we knew of each other, but didn’t know each other) so, we did the polite dance of trying to deduct the other mom’s rules and expectations for a playdate while trying not to offend each other or scare them off. This is not an easy dance, FYI, and so much of female interaction is like this. Sometimes you just want to blurt out all your rules or just say no; it seems like it might be easier that way. Also, if you blurt out—you either end up a person with all the friends or a person with none of the friends; a lot of the time there is no middle ground.

Meanwhile, back to the story: Halfway through this awkward conversation/dance, I was trying to navigate through how to ask to see their home (I know, you can roll your eyes here if you’d like.) I knew about this family from other friends, but well. I just had to know for myself. I needed to know a bit more to trust them.

So, she did what was remarkable, and I’ve stolen from her ever since: She went first.

She talked about her safety precautions, the house, where she lived, if I needed a tour, etc. She even gave me information about her stance on guns in the home, among other things, like snacks and how she handles discipline. I have to say—it was not the same as us. How could it be? They were a family that was not us.

But in that moment, I could not have trusted her more.

She was completely vulnerable, telling me all the things, which could have left her and her daughter without a new friend. She left the decision up to me to determine if she was too weird/too different/too whatever. But she went first and laid it all on the line, which is no small task for anyone, really, who wants community, and/or lives in a small town.

So at this moment in time, I’m trying to take my friend’s lead though it’s scary. I’m going first. If I think that I can visit my in-laws or get the kids together, I’m going first by laying it on the line: letting them know my thoughts on how I’d like to handle it, my rules, what I’ve researched and thought through about the risks.

And then, if things go awry, trying to handle it with a thick layer of grace. Lord knows we all need many layers of grace, especially me. After all, I still try to serve trail mix with raisins at playdates and gatherings and everyone knows only social pariahs do that.

First and grace. That’s what I’m going with.

And also, that we need each other in midst of all of these disagreements and differences. We still need community and each other. It is so, so important.

After all, if we don’t trust each other or believe the best of each other, we may not see that underneath that mask, there is actually a big wide smile.

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