First, I need to start out by telling you that I am sitting on my couch this dreary Monday morning typing by myself. Can you believe it? All three of my children are actually in school today. I am in total disbelief. My emotions are all over the place. I find myself giddy with excitement and yet the house is strangely quiet. I can actually hear myself think about what I want to type. I am not being interrupted ten times. I have definitely adapted to the children home and have learned how to write with a lot of interruptions.

All three of my children are now allowed to attend school in person two days a week starting back today. Lillie has been able to go to school Monday and Tuesday this whole school year so far. Ella went back to school last Tuesday and Max gets to start back today. It is a complicated and complex school year. I keep telling myself that we are all learning to be flexible! I am sitting here hoping that their first day goes well and that they continue to be able to attend school at least a couple days a week.

For those of you keeping your children home and doing remote school, or home schooling, you know that I support you. I support every parent making the best decision for their family. The divisiveness among people is continuously blowing my mind. Whether we are discussing Covid, school or politics these days, people are on fire. You know what I have to say? “You do you!”

I am not that parent that thinks every child should have to be attending school right now. I am not that parent who thinks that every child needs to be home right now. I believe in having the freedom to choose. I believe you should be able to choose if your kids go to school. I believe you should be able to choose who you vote for. I believe that you should be able to choose who to love. I believe that you should be able to choose what you attend and don’t attend. Isn’t America the land of the free? Being able to make choices is one of the greatest privileges that we have.

I have had a couple of friends reach out to me very stressed about the upcoming holidays. First comes Halloween, then comes Thanksgiving, next is Christmas and Chanukah, followed closely by New Year’s. We are entering into the busy holiday season! Holidays are stressful enough without the added stress that families are feeling right now.

My husband was shocked when I told him I wanted the kids to have friends over and to go trick or treating. I don’t think he was expecting me to say that. I have seen so many posts about Halloween. People are asking what everyone’s plans are for Halloween? Are people trick or treating? Are people having a few friends over and skipping trick or treating? Are families opting for a fun game night with some treats with their own children? The answer to all of this is yes. I really did think that our Governor was going to ban trick or treating. As of today, you have the ability to choose what is best for your family this Halloween. I will continue to say that “You do you!” You do not owe explanations. I don’t like hearing people feeling pressure one way or the other. There is not a right or wrong answer and that is the truth.

My mother told me one day that she will never fly again. I was surprised by that statement. However, her ability to be able to say no is a very important skill. She doesn’t like to fly so she, “Just says no!” I need to talk to her more about this skill. As a people pleaser I tend to want to make everyone happy. I think as we get older a lot of us find our voices and what makes ourselves happy. I hope that you are all learning to use the important word “No” in your life.

We talk to our children about the importance of being able to say no. We tell them to have their own mind and to make their own choices. We say, “If they jump off a bridge are you going to follow too?” It is a huge lesson to teach our children and we need to practice what we preach.

Let’s move onto the holidays and expectations of family members. I will tell you that our normal celebrations have not been normal at all. I am going to start with telling you that we did not do a big birthday bash for Lillie like she wanted. Last year we rented the roller skating rink and she invited fifty people to come party with her. Yes, I am completely nuts! This year she told me she wanted to do the same thing and I said, “No way!” I told her she could invite a few friends over for a tea party. She wasn’t happy to be given such a small number of friends that she could invite but I don’t feel it is the time for a big birthday bash this year. I did what I was comfortable with.

When any holiday comes up, we ask our parents what they want to do. We don’t assume that anyone wants to do anything. We don’t assume that anyone wants to see us or come over. I want everyone to do what they are comfortable with including our parents.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I just want to ask everyone to keep your expectations to a minimum. Have a conversation with your family about what they are comfortable with. Don’t expect your daughter to come visit you with her family if she doesn’t want to. She still loves you. She may be thinking she is protecting you. She may be falling on her face from trying to work full time while having children in and out of school.

My heart goes out to every parent working full time at a job setting right now and not in their home. This is a stressful time for parents. I also know it’s stressful trying to work full time at home while your children are home. I know it is all challenging. My husband has a fabulous employee who has had her son home for months and has been able to work from home. I hope that employers are being as flexible as they can right now. I have learned more than ever how much value flexibility has in the workplace. Kudos to my husband for understanding what it takes to be a parent and being understanding with his employees regardless of what they have going on in their lives.

I posted a funny meme about a toddler screaming “I don’t wanna vote for any of these people!” I was absolutely floored by the comments that I got in relation to this post. I took it down as people were getting mean and out of control. I started to ask myself, “Why am I friends with some of these people?”

I don’t have issues with you voicing your opinion. I have issues with you being mean and aggressive about it. First, this is why I post nothing political. This is why you can’t even try to be funny. I will admit, I am very sad about both of my options in regards to who is running for President. Out of all the people in America, these are the two it comes down to. This blows my mind. However, I realize that I am lucky that I have the freedom to vote and don’t worry I will. I want you to do you! I want you to vote for who you choose. I do not see things as one sided. I try to always see two sides to things.

I was not looking for advice on who to vote for. I am very clear on social media when I need advice. For example, I would love the name of a handyman, and where to get a new garage door.   There. I am asking for your advice. It tends to be obvious when people are actually asking for your opinion. I don’t quite understand unsolicited advice. I try very hard to keep my mouth shut unless someone directly asks me. That’s not always easy to do. This is another skill that I encourage us all to practice. Give advice when someone asks you for advice.

I have a few friends who are hunters. Could I ever go hunting? No way! However, they choose to go hunting for their reasons. I don’t have to agree with everyone’s choices. That is not my job. I want “You to do you,” and I mean this sincerely.

I don’t care who you marry. I don’t care what color your skin is. Love is love and people are people. I know that judgement is necessary in something like a courtroom. When did judgement become so prevalent around us? When did everyone become so divided? If someone isn’t voting for the candidate that you are choosing that doesn’t make them a bad person. If someone doesn’t want to send their kids to school right now that is their prerogative. I would love to hear less judging. It is a hot time right now. Between Covid and politics I am amazed by all the different opinions and by how intolerant some people are being about it.

My kids are wearing a mask all day at school, and they are being socially distant from each other too. Those are the requirements at school. Do I think my kids should have to wear a mask all day at school? I’m not so sure about that one. Especially when they are required to run outside in a mask. Do I think that you are terrible if you want your kids to wear a mask all day even when they are outside? No. Do I think that you are terrible for not wanting them to wear a mask all day inside or outside? No. I respect people and their ability to have their own minds. Right now, we don’t have a choice and if we want our kids to attend school, they have to wear a mask. We all shouldn’t think alike. That would be a very boring and scary world we lived in if everyone had the exact same opinions.

I have friends who I really feel comfortable being my authentic self with. That is a rare gift. When I can feel free to share my honest opinion. When I can disagree with someone and it doesn’t turn into a huge fight. There is something to be said for having friends who love you and accept you for who you are through and through.

As we head into the election and holidays, I want to strongly encourage people to be tolerant and understanding. If someone believes something different from you, be curious. Ask questions and seek to understand. Put yourselves in other people’s shoes.

I hope you will understand if your family member decides that they aren’t coming to a holiday. I hope you will understand if someone votes differently from you. I hope you will understand when your friend decides she doesn’t want to send her children to school. I hope we can all be tolerant and understanding.

As we enter into the election and the holidays:

  • Seek to understand. Ask questions.
  • Realize that your opinion is just that, your opinion. This does not necessarily mean that you are correct. People are entitled to think differently than you do.
  • Adjust your expectations. You may not be able to have the traditional Thanksgiving that you are used to.
  • Be flexible and understanding. What are your family members and friends comfortable with?
  • Don’t make assumptions. Just because you always go to Grandma’s for Christmas doesn’t mean she wants you and your little ones over this year.
  • Do not follow the crowd – do what you think is best for your family. Resist pressure and expectations. There are a lot of people telling me not to trick or treat. I am doing what I think is best for my family.
  • Resist giving unsolicited advice. I wait for people to ask me for advice or I ask if they want my opinion.
  • Be open minded. I like to hear why my family member or friend thinks or feels a certain way regardless of if we are talking about a holiday, Covid, politics or the weather.
  • Always remember that your children are modeling you. Let them see a strong and capable role model who is also tolerant of differences.

I will end with saying to everyone “You do you!” I want you to feel confident in making decisions that are best for your family. I hope that whatever you choose to do for Halloween that you can make it a fun day for your family.

Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R