Lessons I’m (Still) Learning from My Mom: COVID-19 Edition

Written by Paige Mayhew
Published on March 31, 2020

I recently had a chance to spend some extra quality time with my mom. Yes, amid the coronavirus quarantine, my little family has had the bonus of a foundation leak. 

People, we are a displaced people. 

My parents were gracious enough to take in my homeless family of five (and the dog!) for a few days until our extended hotel life was in place. 

It was on one of our morning “couch talks” (centered mostly on this crazy pandemic) that my mom tossed out two valuable survival skills she learned earlier in life:

  1. You can drink the water in the toilet tank.
  2. You need plenty of trash bags for all the waste. 

Wait, what? 

First, how do you know this? 

And, second of all, how do you know this? 

Thus began a conversation where I learned that my mother had been “trained” as a Civil Defense volunteer back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. 

My fears

You see, back in her day, the threat was an attack by Russia. Specifically, a nuclear attack. 

And so President Truman created a Federal Civil Defense Administration (think today’s Homeland Security.) He wanted Americans to be fully prepared for any fallout from radiation bombs. Schools and movie theaters had cartoons about how to “duck and cover” and air raid drills were regularly practiced. 

Scary stuff that, thankfully, never materialized. 

It sounds a bit lame, but, back in my day, the only threat I remember preparing for was tornados—a skill I happily passed along to my son’s eighth-grade class last spring when we all got trapped at the year-end skating party! 

As a kid, I hated hearing that tornado drill bell. For me, the threat of a real tornado ripping through our school was terrifying. 

As an adult, I recognize I’ve been fortunate to live in a relatively peace-filled time in America, up until 9/11. (Although, I still hate tornado sirens, and my family rolls their eyes when I insist on retreating under the stairs with my dog and Dallas-area meteorologist Pete Delkus!)

The threats we’ve overcome

After the survival skills lesson with my mom, I started thinking about other threats our country (and other countries) have faced over the years. 

For many of us, we rely on our history books for knowledge about the Holocaust, WWI, WWII, the Cold War,  and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I’ve thought about Israel and the constant threat they have lived under since before they were a nation. 

Our Greatest Generation can tell you about the tragic moment of hearing Pearl Harbor was attacked. Baby Boomers can tell you exactly where they were when JFK was shot. My generation can tell you exactly where we were on 9/11. Our kids will one day describe the days of COVID-19. 

You see, we must remember that we live in a fallen world, ruled by the Enemy (albeit just for a time!). Fear crept in a long time ago. 

As parents, we have a big job learning to mitigate our own fears while, at the same time, nurturing our kids through any fear they are experiencing. 

I think all of us would agree that one of the challenges for today is the accessibility of information. In my mom’s day, the threat was real, but the communication was limited. For our kids, communication is constant. It never turns off. And it takes wisdom to know which information stream is accurate and which is hype. 

How do we as parents train our kids to guard their minds and hearts against the tsunami of information? How do we help guard our own hearts?

7 ways to survive uncertain days

This is where I appreciate my mom and her faith. She also had a few more survival skills to share that day during our couch talk:

  1. Remember: God is sovereign. 
  2. Remember: God still sits on his throne and nothing catches him by surprise.

I love this! 

It’s a great reminder and a great comfort in uncertain, surprising times. If I (as a licensed counselor) could add anything to this list as we navigate this pandemic, it would be this:

3. Honor and pray for our leaders. 

I am thankful that I’m not having to make some of these life-altering decisions regarding quarantines and our economy. Talk about pressure. 

There’s no win to some of the decisions, and I am asking the Lord to give our leaders his wisdom and his strength as they face new challenges each day. 

We may not agree with every decision, but we need to remind ourselves and teach our kids to respect our governing authorities as they have been placed over us by God. See Romans 13:1.

4. Fast from electronics. 

As I mentioned in a previous article, we need to limit our time taking in all the information. I need to exercise discernment on what and how much I am allowing in and how much I am allowing in for my kids to absorb (think TV or other news streaming constantly in the background.) 

Yes, I know: online school means possibly adding screen time for some. But turn it off when you are done. See Proverbs 4:23, Philippians 4:6–7, and Proverbs 3:5–6. 

5. Help develop your child’s emotional vocabulary. 

For some kids, this coronavirus crisis is super scary, and they may need help putting into words how they are feeling. Get them talking using feelings words: mad, sad, glad, guilt, shame, fear

Pick up a prayer journal for those who like to write and encourage them to write out their fears, concerns, and prayers to God. 

Remind them of my mother’s #1 and #2 lessons: God is in control! 

And he cares about our fears and wants us to trust him with them. See Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 56:3, John 14:27, and 1 Peter 5:6–7.

6. Memorize Scripture. 

One of the best ways to fight fear is through the Word of God. Guess what? The Lord has removed a bunch of distractions in our lives. 

There’s no better time to read and study and commit to memory his life-giving words! See 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 119:105, and Psalm 1.

7. Give grace. 

People, people, people. I am the chief of sinners. 

But can I please encourage us all to breathe in his grace, his goodness, and his compassion so that when people annoy us with their difference of political opinion or their fancy online homeschool success stories that we would do exactly what Jesus would do? 

Love. 

I know we are all pressured up like Instant Pots this week. May I suggest finding whatever it is that “stirs your affections for the Lord” to take front and center when you sense needing a release of the pressure valve? 

For me, it is a walk outside. Or a Tim Hawkins comedy sketch. Or sharing funny memes with my friends and family. Or snacks. 

Grace is a lifeline in uncertain times. Let’s be great stewards of what God has given us and pay it forward. See Psalm 103:8, Titus 2:11–12, and Ephesians 2:4–5.

Let’s struggle well together

I must admit that I’ve wanted Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones to show up with their Men in Black Neuralyzer to wipe out the memory of some of the madness going on in the world (see also: TP hoarding.) 

But then I realize that I would miss out on so many God moments during this crisis. 

We will get through these uncertain days. 

I just want to be found faithful and “struggle well” through them. 

Will you join me?

Live perfectly imperfect

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Paige Mayhew

Paige Mayhew is a licensed professional counselor.
She is currently staying home to enjoy and manage her household of men. She and her husband, Haynie, have been married for twenty-one years and have three teenage boys: Chaz, Luke, and Trey.
The Mayhews have also been Shepherds of a Bible Fellowship class at their church for sixteen years. Paige has also served on the board of trustees at Prestonwood Christian Academy, where her boys attend school.
She loves to volunteer (mostly for the relationships!), and she is passionate about using her spiritual gifts and encouraging others to understand and use theirs.
Paige is grateful for the moments to exercise the joy of writing.

Read more about Paige

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