Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Fourth and goal
It is fall and fall, in my house, means football.
As we head toward the fourth quarter of 2020, I would like to throw out the challenge flag and assess a penalty for unnecessary roughness! We might still be well out of field goal range, but it would make me feel better. There have been too many missed receptions, an overuse of time outs, and more than a few clear instances of encroachment. Clearly it is time to take a step back and punt.
OK, enough of the football analogies. For me, September alone is a month full of mixed emotions as it includes both the birth of my first born, who turned 30 yesterday, as well as the death of my mother in 2012. Talk about your highs and lows.
Eight years without my mom does not seem possible. There are still occasions I get the urge to pick up the phone to ask about some family history, an old recipe or just to hear her voice. I appease that need with a well-played voice message she left for me about a year before she passed that I smartly saved and continue to move from phone to phone. It is not the same. No matter how old I become, I think there will always be times when I will wish for one more day with my mom. There are so many mysteries and histories I have not solved or cannot recall.
Thirty years of parenting also does not seem possible and it has changed me in ways I could not have imagined when I was just starting out. I realize I must have had some inkling of what might be in store as I did not plan to become a parent at all! I was concerned about the state of the world and my own shortcomings. My decision came with the idealistic view that I might give birth to the person who would cure cancer, draft a peace agreement between warring nations, or invent the pill that would end dieting once and for all.
This kid has since assured me none of those things are going to happen. I am completely OK with that. Because I realize none of that matters. Certainly, I am happy I did not give birth to someone who has caused harm to the world, but the love I have for my children is not measured in deeds or accomplishments. This parental love goes beyond my wildest imaginings. I have spent the last three decades and undoubtedly will continue until my last breath in the role of head cheerleader, strong shoulder, and safe place to land.
My kids don’t owe me a thing. They have already given me so much. And while I had no idea the joy, pride, heartache and angst that would come with maternity, I did have had some notion of how hard it is to be a kid.
I grew up in a much simpler time and even then, it was really, really, hard. It’s easy enough to reminisce about the “good old days” when we were on the streets playing hide and seek or kick the can; when wishing for snow days was the last thing on our minds at night, and when a day hanging out at the creek or laying in the grass watching clouds float by was about as good as it could get, but those days and nights were also filled with the uncertainty and insecurity of being a young human learning to navigate our way through the world. Growing up is hard. The journey has only become more difficult for our youth today.
I have had my misspent youth, and frankly have misspent a bit of my middle age as well. Today, I am really glad I am no longer young.
Passing notes in the hallway has been replaced by 24-hour instant messaging. Popularity is determined by followers and friends. Friends are counted in thumbs up, hearts, and coded emojis. Before the additional stress of a pandemic, kids were already dealing with a constant barrage of technology that they could not fathom living without, and now in technology is their teacher, their social life, and in many cases it’s where they are finding their sense of worth in the world.
The technology grip is real, and I simply cannot keep up. (Honestly, a few minutes ago I discovered an entire section of Facebook with messages dating back as much as 18 months that I had never seen. My apologies to those who never received a response!)
Added to all the “normal’ growing pains is a culture, a society, that grows in division and uncertainty; a planet that is showing signs of extreme wear and tear and a political system that appears to be on the brink of failure. Where are we to find the hope for the hopeless? What are we leaving for the next generation? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
We used to talk about a bright future, but my kids struggle to see a future that has even a bit of shine to it. And I am, frankly at a loss of what to say to reassure them. Except this: They are amazingly capable, smart, huge hearted humans who surround themselves with other amazingly capable, smart, huge hearted humans. And it is time to do the work.
They may not cure cancer, or secure world peace, but they are willing to stand up for what is right and do the work to make the world a better place to be. It’s fourth and goal – no time for a “Hail Mary” pass — but rather a well thought out strategy, a united offensive line and teamwork to get us into the end zone.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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