Family vignettes

The pandemic has enabled me to spend more time with my family than ever before. For that, I am thankful, although it is not all peaches and cream. By that I mean that we have bad days and good days, bad interactions and good interactions. We continue to learn how to be with one another, and I see some reasons for encouragement even in the midst of great difficulties and stresses.

Yesterday, my wife suggested that we go to a local farm stand to buy fresh sweet corn and tomatoes, which we did. Our youngest wanted to drive, having pestered us all day to go driving. That’s what happened, with my wife in the front passenger seat and me in the back. Imagine for a minute having both parents critique every aspect of your driving the whole time. We all got a bit frustrated with one another but in the end, everyone made it safely home again.

Another time, and another child pestering to have help learning to play the piano. This request has gone on for at least two years and I’m ashamed to point out that I’ve avoided doing it because I didn’t think I could. However, we jumped in to learn chords for a worship song, and it turned out to be fairly straightforward. They felt a real sense of accomplishment, I think, in being able to start this learning process, and I, too, felt a sense of accomplishment in being able to help in a small way.

A third child has long struggled with motivation, physical health, and indecision. But then, suddenly, a job at a local pizza place seemed like a good idea. A job application was filled out (yes!) and then lo and behold, they got an interview (double yes!). If this works out, it will mean a lot. It’s a job that’s a short bike ride away, for example, so pretty convenient. And the ability to earn money will be a big boost, I think. We often have their pizza, which is delicious, so maybe we could also get a discount or free food? The sky’s the limit.

I’m still waiting on an official decision on my request to continue working remotely. The start of the Fall semester is less than three weeks away. However, the person I report to assured me last week that my request will be honored. Like my family interactions, working full time from home has its good aspects and bad aspects, but overall, it is something for which I am thankful. It is easy to forget so many years of three hours spent driving to and from work on a daily basis, and the concomitant expense of that commute.

I believe the enforced shift to remote work is a fundamental, rather than a temporary one, and that this will change working arrangements for years to come. For me, the transition has not been entirely easy but it has been for the best, and I’m especially glad that I have more opportunity to spend time each day with my wife and children.

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