My daughter is graduating high school this year and for her, like so many other kids, it’s a far cry from what they imagined their senior year would look like.  Let’s face it – it sucks!  My heart breaks for the memorable events she’s missing, and I would do anything to make it better.

But as I was talking to a friend the other day, I realized a few things.  This group of seniors, whether they realize it or not,  have learned some incredibly important life lessons that will carry them far. They will be different that the Classes before them and will ultimately shape the future.  And I believe that these life lessons are way more important than any lessons they would have learned in school these past few months.

They’ve learned resiliency.  They’ve had to deal with disappointment and adapt to uncertainty.  For years now we’ve been bemoaning the generation of entitled kids, those who receive a trophy win or lose and are sheltered from setbacks. Not this group.

They’ve learned to enjoy the present moment. They didn’t know that the last day they were in school might be the final time they’re all together as a class. They will appreciate every game, competition and even party because it truly might be the last.

They’ve learned that social connections in real life are important.  For a group that spends hours Facetiming, texting, Snapchatting and living online the thing our Seniors are missing the most is spending time with their friends.  Sure, missing prom or the last day BBQ is disappointing but more than anything they simply want to be with their group of friends before they head off to college.

They’ve learned self-discipline.  Distance learning has forced kids to focus on their assignments in ways they never had to before. Without a teacher standing in front of them distractions are plenty. They will most likely be the pioneers of a generation that has less face time with supervisors and can work more productively and efficiently virtually.

They’ve learned to not take things for granted.  Just a few months ago they were shopping at the mall with their friends, going to a movie and hanging out at Starbucks and didn’t give it a second thought.  Yes, we’re a privileged society and the  Class of 2020 will recognize that more than most.  They’ve also spent more time with their siblings and parents playing games, walking the dog, making cookies and just sitting outside than most kids.  And they’ll probably tell you it’s not that bad.

This is most certainly a year they’ll be telling their kids about.  There will be stories of missed events and disappointments but hopefully there will also be stories of life lessons that changed them forever.

Am I the only woman out there who’s sleep pattern is completely wrecked by this quarantine? For those of us who are used to living by a schedule and keeping our family’s life running smoothly this is completely screwing us up.

Or is it?

I’m a firm believer in the universe providing teachable moments that allow us to re-adjust. OK, this is more than just a moment – it’s a giant time-out.

I think most of us needed it for various reasons but for those of us who are caregivers, moms and entrepreneurs one of the lessons might just be to ease up.

As is typical of me, I started out this quarantine with a game plan – and my trusty white board.  Afterall, I work from my home office regularly, how different could this be?

I started lists of projects my teenagers could help me with when they were done with online school.  I assigned cooking, spring cleaning and activities with their brother Spencer who has intellectual disabilities.  Spencer was my greatest challenge.  He attends a day program and routine is critical for many people with intellectual disabilities.  I planned exercise time, drawing, Facetime with his friends and “some” TV.

I also had to plan what to do about my mom who lives with us.  As with many people from her generation, she likes to go to the grocery store every day rather than do a big shopping.  She also visits my aunt in a nursing home daily.  I had recently convinced her to start doing an exercise class at the senior center a few times per week.  Even though she lives with us she has her own schedule and I was nervous about her becoming isolated.  And so, I factored her into my plans as well.  We would have game nights and I would take walks with her and look through old photos.

Then there was date time with my husband to consider.  Greg has Primary Progressive MS and uses a power chair so our dates usually consisted of going to the movies or out to dinner with friends.  Clearly that was now out of the question.  I envisioned some quiet dinners alone – which I didn’t think through given that there was nowhere for the rest of the family to go during these quiet dinners!

I even factored in my own changes.  Rather than going to the gym I’d do classes online.  I already practiced yoga at home so throwing in some cardio and weight training would be easy.

And then the first day of quarantine happened.

It felt like a snow day with the kids home.  Rather than waking up at my normal 5:30A and meditating I found myself shutting off the alarm and sleeping until 7.  I rationalized that since the girl’s didn’t have to head off for school I’d still have extra time before they got up.  Spencer turned on the TV the minute he woke up.  I figured it was the first day and I wanted to get into the new routine so I’d let it slide.  My friends and I started texting about how crazy the world was becoming and before I knew it, it was 10:30.  I started thinking about what I was going to make for our first big family dinner.  If it was our normal routine the girls would be at cheer practice and wouldn’t be home for dinner.  Now suddenly I was faced with the prospect of making dinner for six people EVERY NIGHT.

By now it was 2P and I needed to buckle down and work.  I couldn’t take the time to walk the girls through the chores I wanted them to do and they were more than happy to spend the entire afternoon watching Tik Toks.  By 4P I realized that I hadn’t gotten a workout in so I tuned in to a live Zumba session on Instagram.  I quickly learned that to do an exercise class that required me to watch an instructor on my tiny phone is virtually impossible.  By 5P my son wanted to help with dinner which is wonderful, but he can’t do this without supervision so any chance of catching up on work was gone.  When dinner was done all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch Netflix.  The idea of family game night went completely out the window. Instead baking cookies seemed like a much better idea.

And so, my carefully planned out day resulted in me sleeping in, working too little, eating too much and my kids glued to their devices. Even worse I was wide awake until midnight – something unheard of for me. Which threw me off schedule again the following morning. I could see a vicious cycle beginning and was stressed out how to make it better.  Afterall I’m the Queen of running a household efficiently. I was sure I could conquer this challenge.

But I quickly realized I couldn’t. Life has taken on a new rhythm. Days and weeks feel longer and schedules just don’t seem to work.  With my daughter going off to college next year I’m grateful that I have more time with her.  Usually she’d be off with friends or at cheer practice.  I’m happy that she also has this time with her sister and I’m sure she’ll remember that fondly. I’ve taken walks with my mom and my husband and I have done double dates on Zoom.  My mom and Spencer have been playing Xbox Bowling – something they both enjoy tremendously. We’ve also set up FaceTime so she can see my aunt in the nursing home every week. And I’ve gotten back to work and have the opportunity to focus on doing more videos with inspirational people which is something I had put on the back burner.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that life keeps moving forward, maybe a bit messier and not as efficient, but mostly enjoyable.  We’re not the family that plays games together, but we’re all assembling masks for healthcare workers tonight which to me is even better.  But more importantly we share laughs and love and in the end that’s all that matters.