If These Walls Could Talk

PHOTO BY Molly Kendrick
PHOTO BY Molly Kendrick

Grace… The New Normal

Friends, we have made it to December. It is the final month of this crazy year of COVID-19. Hallelujah! For so many of us, 2020 has brought fear, uncertainty, loss, anxiety, and memories we want to leave behind a locked door. Through the chaos, I have been able to find a few experiences I hope to carry with me into 2021 and beyond.

The Brothers, our twin boys, were born in January 2019. We had been a comfortable family of three for almost four years, and I knew growing to a family of five would force me to let go of some things and lighten up a little. I made a promise to my anxious, striving-for-perfection, alter-ego that 2019 would be the year of giving grace to myself, to my husband, and really, to all the people on all the days. I was going to give all of us permission to throw away old expectations. It was going to be okay if the bed wasn’t made every morning or the dirty dishes stayed in the sink while my husband and I watched a movie after the kids went to bed. After our daughter was born, we fed her plain flavored yogurt for quite a while. I thought I was winning at this mom thing by not introducing “sweets” until later in her life. Poor child. I remember watching her drink her first Capri Sun at two years old, after swimming lessons, and she sucked that juice down in .02 seconds. Fast forward to my year of grace and guess what… The Brothers were eating macaroni and cheese, like the powdered, unnaturally orange kind, by eight months old. Whether it was plain yogurt or microwaved pasta, I found the result was still the same; my kids were fed, they were happy, and they were so incredibly loved.

Do you know what could force someone to extend that year of grace indefinitely? A shelter-in-place order with a five-year-old girl and 18-month-old twin boys! Our baseline for success went from the middle of the road straight down to the ditches. If we were all alive at the end of the day, we won. The Brothers pulled down a set of the living room curtains one day. The next day, they pulled the other set down, and the curtains are still not back up because they will probably just do it again, anyway. Our daughter slept on a twin sized blowup mattress in a tent in her bedroom, right next to her actual bed, for six months because it made her happy. The glass from a small glass top table has been removed after one of the boys crawled under the table and stood up with the glass balancing on his head. Silverware was picked up by little fingers reaching from tiptoes, licked, and put back in the drawer. Someone is usually standing on a table, dumping a bucket of toys, or zooming by on a scooter. Our home is in disarray at all times. I’m ok with it though, because I know one day, I will have fresh flowers and pretty coffee table books back where they once were. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” Let me tell you, this is not our season for a perfectly decorated home or prime organization.

As our country approached the thick of this pandemic, and we were encouraged to stay home and refrain from social gatherings with our friends and families, birthday parties, graduations and wedding showers were canceled or replaced with drive-thru celebrations. Then, virtual learning was introduced… bless it y’all! As time went on, our leaders began to understand what we all were feeling; we cannot sustain mental health and well-being in isolation. We need each other! Eventually, we were allowed to expand our inner circles. Our bubbles grew, but only slightly, to include only those we really knew and trusted. Let me tell you, the ones with whom you’d order curbside pickups while wearing yoga pants and t-shirts, those are your people. For what it’s worth, I vote we hold on to those easy nights with neighbors and family after all of this mess is over. We’ve created a completely new level of love and friendship in my book. Keep those people close. You are surviving a pandemic together!

The past 11 months have encouraged me to be still. I have watched our children grow in ways I may have otherwise missed under normal circumstances. Our daughter is really, really funny, and she wins Connect Four every time. I almost burst with pride while watching her walk, with total confidence, into her first day of Kindergarten all by herself. She is braver than I could ever be and God answered our prayers with the sweet friends she has made. The Brothers started Mother’s Day Out and knowing they have each other calms any fears created by not being able to walk them into their classroom. At home, I have watched those three become the best of friends. Sure, they make each other crazy, but the laughter we hear and the playtimes we get to witness are just the very best.

This year has been hard y’all, but we’re going to get through it. As for my home, our kitchen cabinets won’t have locks on them forever and my white walls and baseboards can be repainted. Until that time comes, we will try to keep our focus on what is important to us: protecting our family time, modeling for our children what a loving, committed marriage looks like, having dance parties in the kitchen, and being kind to each other. As we go into 2021, let’s find the good, the fun, the less-fluff-and-stuff moments, and carry those with us. Love your people. Praise God for the blessings He has given. Move your baseline for success. Help someone who needs it. Give all the grace to all the people, all the time, including yourself. 

Easter 2020—the quarantined Flippo Family—Liz, Hutchins, Gabbie, John Allen and John.

 

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