A Spoonful of Sugar: Perspective on being flexible in challenging times.
Remember how we all learned to sing that catchy song from Mary Poppins growing up? No, not supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, although that was my fave from the movie, the other song, you know the one about a spoonful of sugar. I think that I have stumbled across a new appreciation for that song and what Mary Poppins was trying to teach.
My daughter was scheduled to graduate from college this past week, this was one of those “moments” that we as parents live for. It’s not the same as them breaking down the doors of tweenhood, or their sweet 16 when you realize you, as a parent, are in the homestretch. No, this is up there with getting married and having a baby. This is one of those moments where parents and children have an unspoken understanding that no display of celebration is too much! This is when we, together, along with hundreds of other students and their families, acknowledge the hard work, focus, dedication and sacrifice. We could picture it so vividly, a sea of caps and gowns, and an audience of cheering loved ones as their grad to be walks across the stage deliberating whether they are going to be cool and smooth, or do something to wild out. This is what we pictured, but the universe had something different in mind, the world was shaken by COVID-19 and this "moment" that we built up, ended up getting cancelled; there would be no graduation ceremony. We were devastated, and it wasn’t just about the graduation, it was about the togetherness and the climax and emotional exhale of a four year journey that we worked so hard for, and looked forward to commemorating that experience together.
I went into full blown “not my baby” mode and began trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces. We as mothers (parents) know how to put our feelings on the backburner in order to make sure our kids have the world. My focus immediately turned to keeping her strong and encouraged, and making sure that she was celebrated on her graduation day. I knew that I couldn’t give her that graduation “moment”, but I could give her a “moment” of celebration and help to create memories that she can forever connect to her special day. Sparing you all of the details, we did just that with the help of some very special people with whom she happens to be quarantining with, we created something very special that she will always remember. She called me in tears, thanking me and saying that she didn’t expect anything, that’s when I reminded her that in my eyes she deserves the world.
So how does Mary Poppins factor into this? Remember: a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? When my daughter called me crying, I knew that she wasn’t sad anymore, I knew that she felt loved and celebrated, grateful and humbled. Hearing her voice and hearing her say that she didn’t expect anything confirmed for me that the lesson in this is bigger than the “moment”. Sometimes we box ourselves into a corner with our own need to be in control, we are comfortable when we think that we can predict the direction or outcome of a situation. But what happens when we lose control; when things happen that we can’t control? The most important lesson that I have learned and that my daughter has learned through this is the value of flexibility. When something doesn’t go as planned, assess, adjust and advance with a new plan. My daughter’s heart feeling full and her ability to grasp that this detour from the picture-perfect moment required her flexibility, was the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down. It put everything into perspective and allowed us to make the best out of a difficult time.
Lack of control is one of the biggest contributors to people’s fear and anxiety of change, flexibility allows us the capacity to redirect our energy and adjust to the new needs, understanding that the only thing we can control…is ourselves. Let go of what was so that you can redirect and invest your energy in what’s to come.
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