School Year Reflections


High freaking five, mama.

We’ve made it! The minions are back to school and we are feeling a bit “back” to business as usual with each passing week.

Was it stressful? Oh yes.

Were there tears? Most definitely.

Did it require copious amounts of wine? You betcha.

Never in my wildest dreams would I think I’d overhear my young boys having conversations about the “pandemic” and “quarantine” on a regular basis. But alas, here we are.

It goes without saying this last year was vastly different from the previous year. We went from the fast-paced weekly routine of school, sports practices, birthday parties, play dates, and date nights to an abrupt screeching halt. The first week of quarantine felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Streets were bare, parks were abandoned, and stores were bracing for what their futures held. It was downright scary.

And yet, we found a way to experience some joy.

We live in such a multi-tasking, fast-paced world. We don’t take much time to slow down these days, especially when it comes to motherhood. We are forces of nature, yet self-less by nature. Our children, partners, and jobs often come before ourselves. It’s not because we prefer it this way. We are natural people pleasers. Their happiness likely fuels our own happiness.

But, when the nation shuts down, and the usual routine gets scratched from the calendar, we are left with a choice.

What the heck am I going to do now?

Once the initial shock wore off, I began to settle into a slower, calmer routine. In fact, my entire household slowed down. Bedtimes became more relaxed, dinners become more creative with what we had on hand, and expectations were lowered. It was as if the entire world took a deep breath and said, ok, now what’s really important here? What do I really need right now?

It turns out we didn’t need to multi-task as much, or buy as much, or even work as much. Many companies learned they didn’t need to keep corporate office space because their employees were able to work just as, if not more, productive from home. Parents learned just how savvy their children were online. While e-learning brought on a slew of emotions, it also brought on creative ways to connect with classmates and teachers. Lunch breaks became a family affair. Recess was a welcomed opportunity to play away from screens and run in the backyard. And above all else, we realized just how much our loved ones meant to us, both near and far.

I believe it will take my children several years to look back at 2020 and feel a sense of comfort and nostalgia. I don’t expect them to appreciate the unregistered gifts we were given anytime soon. But they will remember chalking the sidewalks with positive messages, surprise donut deliveries on a Sunday morning, and family hikes in local forest preserves.

They’ll remember the extra measures we took to ensure Grammy and Grandpa stayed safe while we visited, that first sports practice with all of their friends, and me yelling “Don’t forget your mask!” each time we ventured out the door. Above all else, they’ll remember how far we’ve come, and appreciate where we are today.


Gracemarie Boland is a Naperville mom to two boys, Nicholas and Jonathan. She is a real estate investor, property manager, yoga teacher and health coach. You can reach her on FB or IG @gracemarieboland.

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