Toppel is chief operating officer at Jewish Family Service of San Diego. And the founder of MAKE WORK WORK FOR MOMS. She is a licensed clinical social worker in California. She lives in Del Cerro.
Over the last two years, conversations with fellow parents have included sentiments that we are living the lyrics of “Surface Pressure,” the catchy song from the Disney movie, “Encanto.”
“Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa….” Using humor to cover the exhaustion of moving from day-to-day without knowing exactly where we are headed, we try to manage “juggling it all” without missing a beat.
And it doesn’t stop. Especially when we are looking for answers and the next step for our children. Parents are trading the names of therapists for their children who are struggling with “pandemic surfaced” anxiety, depression, isolation and social challenges. Parents are wondering if their kids should wear masks after it is no longer mandated. And parents are wanting their kids to have a sense of normalcy after spending the last two years navigating situations filled with unknowns, sudden changes and social challenges.
We will juggle and juggle to find hope and the “right” next move. What has become evident is it is going to take time to heal, to regroup, to align with all that has changed, as individuals and as parents — to reconcile what has surfaced by embracing changes that have been positive and saying goodbye to those who have no place in our moving forward.
We, as a collective, can stop to take a minute, to breathe, to pause. We are resilient. We can balance the emotions of both despair and hope. And we have each other to lean on. As we approach the next phase of our journey along these strange and challenging times, we will need to become comfortable with holding polarities — opposite emotions — sometimes at the same time, during the same day. We will learn to ask for and receive help; to check on each other and check in with ourselves; to breathe, meditate and exercise; to be selfish and to be generous; to slow down and to respond. As a mom, a therapist, a nonprofit executive and a person who is reluctant to ask others for help (though who enjoys offering help to others), I have been reflecting on what the next few months and years will look like as we transition beyond this pandemic life.
To quote the first national youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, “Even as we hurt, we hoped. Even as we hurt, we healed.” Holding “both,” holding polarities will be how we move forward towards health and healing.