Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

Does anyone else feel euphoric? I mean deep, cellular-level euphoria.

Why, you ask, during such times as these would I feel euphoria?

My teens are back in school.

Now, in the whole scheme of life, this time of year always brought a sense of dread, chaos, melancholy and other big feelings. This year is very different. You see, we are potentially nearing the end of a global pandemic. We have morphed into the latter stages of this pandemic, so it looks very different than now.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my children. All seven of them. In fact, the pandemic changed us deeply. We grieved a loved one taken from us unexpectedly. We navigated boredom and lack. We experienced our own personal growing pains and transformations. The pandemic brought beauty from ashes in some ways for us. However, the looming, grandiose impact was the isolation and lack of activity for my children while I tried to work eight- to 10-hour days.

I was home, so that was good, but juggling it, inventing things, trying to inspire and motivate while keeping my head above water was superhero work (shout out to all parents who did this).

Try to get a teen with an ADHD diagnosis to pay attention on Zoom, all day, plus drivers ed. That would make anyone’s brain split.

I learned a few things during the pandemic. I interviewed a lot of older people. They seemed to be doing just fine. This was nothing new. Mass vaccinations had been seen in their lifetime. Drought. Depression. They survived. I know that this will make us resilient. I want to show my family that we can use this time for good.

I also learned to be present, which meant I needed to let go of things that impacted that ability. I turned off the news. Completely. This isn’t for everyone, but for me, it allowed me to navigate each day with gratitude for what we have and not the fear of where we might be headed.

I realized the greatest impact that I would have in my lifetime is right in front of me. I must be present to them to nurture them the last few years. I can’t do that if I am afraid. I needed to be my best self to be able to give them hope. They want a future, so I want to infuse that with hope.

Transitions like going back to school always come with a little upheaval, but having the firm footing of being present and grateful slows me down to experience this transition with a grateful heart and euphoria.

You see, school and the activities make my kids happy. They make them want to wake up and do another day. The excitement I get watching them prepare, chat, plan and organize brings such a wave of happiness to this mom. Transitions can be hard too. This is where being present can help us navigate and sense that in our child, no matter what their age.

The other thing I learned in the pandemic was to give grace to myself. If we go out to dinner twice in one week, but we connected during that time, it was a win. If the house suffered, but we had memories of a great road trip, it was a win.

I also did things I would have never done before during the pandemic. I let my teens get piercings. Those who know me probably thought I had lost my mind. I was trying to bridge the gap and fill a hole. Maybe it worked for that time. Maybe it helped get them over a little hurdle. Who knows?

What I do know is that I feel euphoric that these kids are back in school. I appreciate you teachers. I appreciate the principals and superintendents who are pivoting each day to meet the guidelines. The secretary, the bus drivers, the nurse, the para, the janitor.

Thank you for another year. Thank you for the lessons learned in this pandemic. To each family in this wonderful community that navigated loss, in any form, or home-schooling or lack or isolation, you did it. Keep moving forward, one step at a time, in love. We got this!

Catherine Dennis is an early childhood specialist and adjunct faculty in the Early Childhood Education Department at Walla Walla Community College. Her work is her passion and so is being a mom of seven. Catherine can be reached for resources at

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