By Bradley

My dear and busy children started school two weeks ago. After months and months of quarantine, farm life and a few getaways, it was time. Time for routine, time for normalcy and time for these kiddos to get an education. I was beyond excited and they were too.

From a mother’s perspective, the first day did not look too different from any other year, except for the mask factor. Every single teacher and member of the faculty or administration was wearing a mask, making it a new normal for school 2020-2021. The day felt just as sweet and nostalgic as every other year. And although you could not actually see any smiles, the sense of fun, togetherness and safety could be felt from every adult and child.

I dropped them off, told them I loved them and left the school just like any other year. I had no distress and no worries. My positive efforts and prayer had worked. The kids were happy and so was Mom.

The days following this pleasant school beginning have not looked much different. The fun and eagerness are still present, and they appear more in tune with the responsibility they hold. They are more thoughtful to be on time and they are more willing to do the work.

Since beginning our school year, children have already contracted COVID. This was inevitable. I think we all knew it was going to happen, it was just a matter of when. And “when” came extremely fast– within the first seven days of school.

And here we are in 2020. Children wearing masks to school and children being quarantined for COVID.

The truth is, we cannot hide and we cannot live in fear. Not only do parents need a sense of hope and normalcy, but the children need it too. We all know that we are at risk, yet we are all willing to take that leap.

In 1933, during the darkest times of the Great Depression, it was President FDR who said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself…” What the people needed above money and work was Hope. They needed a driving force to get the country moving. The Hope that FDR brought to the American people helped to drive their minds and hands back to a promising future.

My children, by beginning school, carry and feel that same Hope. They are seeing children absent from school due to COVID, yet they stand tall, with grit and perseverance. They know and feel the weight of the world, yet they choose to go on.

I sat back and admired all my children this past week and thought, “how strong and brave these kids are for choosing to fight even though they know what’s at stake.”

I had a moment with Shep recently that struck this idea into me. In his dark room, snuggled in bed, I lay down with him, cheek to cheek. His baby face, still young and soft, reminded me of his earlier days when none of this even mattered.

I stayed close with him and looked deep into his eyes and said, “I am so proud of you buddy. Did you know that? Did you know that you are very brave when you are at school? You are a strong boy. I know that it is not easy, but you are doing a great job.”

He smiled so tenderly at me, looking directly into my eyes. I realized that I was his Hope and what he does not know that he is my Hope too.

We have too much Hope to fall into a depression and just enough to keep us away from fear. Hope lies in the endurance and faith of these children returning to school. They know what is going on, and still they choose to press on to better things.

Are we pressing on to better things too? I believe we have much to learn from these masked school children. They are our Hope and future.

When you see a child this week, tell them that they are doing a great job. If you see them in passing, wave to them. If you like to send letters, send a handful to children of all ages. If you know them personally, give them a call and just say, “You sure are great, you know that?!” Call or text a college kid and tell them they, too, are conquerors. Do whatever it takes to reach out to a child; they are the shining light of our future.

And while you’re at it, give yourself a pat on the back too. Better yet, take these words from my heart to yours: “You are doing a great job! You really are. It is not easy, but you are overcoming every single day. You are a light to the world.”