I had just said goodbye to my kids as they headed into school when I heard a familiar voice behind me doing the same. I turned around to see a parent I hadn’t seen since our kids had been in class together before the pandemic. Without thinking, I greeted her with the usual “How are you? How have you been?” We both immediately laughed at the absurdity of these questions in the context of nearly two years parenting through a global pandemic, uprisings for racial justice, and massive uncertainty.
“Honestly? There’s a lot to say,” she responded. “For starters, this is definitely not how I imagined I would feel this fall.”
“I think I know what you mean,” I replied.
My friend added, “I just thought I would feel better by now. There is honestly so much to feel and say! But right now? Just blah.”
I nodded, equally at a loss for words but sure of at least one important thing. “You certainly aren’t alone feeling blah.”
When we work with parents, we don’t necessarily hear words like “depleted surge capacity” or “pandemic flux syndrome.” We hear words like “blah.”
Resilience isn’t about “bouncing back.” It is about integrating, repairing, and growing.
Psychologists have helped us make sense of various stages of our personal and collective experiences over the past two years. What happened to that energy, focus and collective purpose that we felt in the first weeks of the pandemic? Dr. Anne Masten explains that some of this was fueled by “surge capacity.” That ebbed over time and our fatigue evolved into exhaustion.
Then just when we thought that we might be emerging the delta variant came roaring into our communities. Dr. Amy Cuddy coined the term “pandemic flux syndrome” to describe the desperation we felt as we watched the finish line move further and further away.
These concepts are useful because they resonate with our experiences. They remind us that we aren’t alone. Of course, when we work with parents, we don’t frequently hear words like “depleted surge capacity” or “pandemic flux syndrome.” We hear words like “blah.”
It would be understandable for us to deny these feelings. We certainly have access to a broader range of activities that should help us recharge now. After all, kids are in school or childcare! Demands are accelerating! Life continues, right? Onward!
We know that parents also need support that presses pause on the “how-to-parent” and asks instead, “How are you, parents?”
Before we go onward, it helps to go inward.
Or, we could take this opportunity to pause, make meaning, and nurture the connections that hold us up and help us through. We could also acknowledge that some of the blah might be related to the profound lack of opportunities to do so.
Parenting under any circumstances can be logistically and emotionally relentless and rarely affords opportunities to pause. Raising humans also puts us on a regular collision course with our own anxieties, histories, hopes, and dreams. This is exponentially true now.
At Spark & Stitch, we are committed to sharing science and research that builds understanding of what is happening inside kids as they grow. We create resources and online classes that help put this understanding into practice. We know that parents deserve insight and strategies that they can draw on during the most challenging moments.
We know that parents also need support that presses pause on the “how-to-parent” sometimes and asks instead, “How are you, parents?”
Introducing Spark & Stitch Creative Projects
Neuroscience has demonstrated over and over again that we human beings are powered by art, story, and emotion as much as knowledge and understanding. This is why we weave storytelling and reflection through all of our offerings. Parenting requires more than just information and strategies. It also demands introspection, creativity, community, and meaning-making.
Curiosity and creativity are among our most powerful parenting superpowers.
This is also why we are thrilled to be launching Spark & Stitch Creative Projects. We’ve been collaborating with artist-parents to produce offerings that are designed to nourish you in new and creative ways. Our brain science-made-simple classes and workshops aren’t going anywhere. They are essential and here for you when you need them. But we also invite you to take a creative leap with us into the blahs and ah-has. We invite you to spark new neural pathways and nurture poetic connections.
Intrigued? We hope so. Curiosity and creativity are among our most powerful parenting superpowers. See what’s coming on our website and expect to hear more from us next week.