| This is the 585th story of Our Life Logs® |
I had always read about pandemics sweeping the nation in my history books when I was in school, like the plague or flu outbreaks, but in my thirty-two years of being in this life, I never would’ve imagined living through one.
Our family is based in Rossville, Georgia, just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, our daily life of being on a constant run from here-to-there was quickly and unexpectedly paused.
My daughter had been competing in dance for seven years, and, suddenly, all competitions had been canceled, and her dance studio—no, her second home—had closed due to the new rules on social gatherings to help contain the spread of the virus.
My children enjoyed school and thrived in social settings, but that was halted out of abundance of caution, so, for school to go remote was devastating to them. My husband and I tried to mend their confused and broken hearts, but all we could do was hope for the best and stay positive, for ourselves and our family.
So much uncertainty ran through our lives, as well as everyone around the world.
Of course, our family’s safety and well-being were at the front of our minds. That was another difficult road to travel. Our family is large and close-knit. I talk to my mom every day, and normally, we would visit our grandparents and cousins every week. With COVID-19, all of that stopped. We were robbed of time with loved ones.
Honestly, that was one of the hardest things for us.
I worked from home with my children at the kitchen table every day to do schoolwork, keeping them on somewhat of a schedule as best as I could. We had our routine down pretty well. The kids woke up each morning at the same time they would for regular school and then logged onto Google Classroom to check work. If there was none, I gave them extra, and we would all sit to learn together or come up with fun learning games. Then, we would make our way outside to the trampoline or take the dogs on a walk. We always ended the day playing outside or inside. For those moments with all of us together, I am grateful.
Still, as months of the pandemic droned on and the school year quickly came to a close, the kids were just about sick of me and the way I still made them carry on the extra schoolwork. They’d complain to their friends that their teachers weren’t as strict or as expectant as me. I could sense tension and tiredness from the rise of the pandemic seeping into our home.
Things became even more tense when it became clear that typical graduation ceremonies wouldn’t be happening. My daughter, Serenity, was in fifth grade and had been looking forward to the magical moment of her graduation from elementary school for six years. She had watched her big brothers go through it and always talked about what she would do that day, her excitement rising with every year of achievement. But it didn’t happen the way she had pictured it. Instead, there was a virtual ceremony and a drive-thru farewell at school. Although it wasn’t the same, Serenity kept a grateful heart and was still excited to celebrate.
By that time, my boys were just happy to be out of school. Patrick was graduating eighth grade and was promoted with honors into high school. He missed saying goodbye to some of his teachers and peers, but he had accomplished middle school and was officially moving on. Chris was heading into his sophomore year also with great marks and was simply thankful to have made it through his first year of high school.
My heart goes out to all the seniors who couldn’t walk the stage. I am certainly counting my blessings. Though the teachers were incredible at keeping the kids encouraged, it was still hard to keep that positivity over such a negative circumstance.
When summer came, new challenges arose. Normally, we would stay busy with competitions and work in the summer, but it looked like we would not be indulging in any of those experiences this time. I didn’t know how much more I could overcompensate for the things that my children were missing deep in their hearts and needed. I felt an overwhelming sense of sorrow for them. I didn’t know how to explain anything to them, so we just held on tight to what we knew. This is only temporary; our God is in control. The only thing left for us to do was embrace the sunshine and create new adventures daily. It was up to all of us to make new memories on our own. That was my goal.
On an early morning bike ride in June of 2020, I was pedaling along with the beautiful views when I ran across a few muddy puddles from the storms that had torn through our neighborhood the night before. Instead of veering a little to the left, I felt a faded spark ignite quickly inside me. My feet began to pedal faster—straight for the puddle. I didn’t know how deep it was or what would happen, but a smile crept across my face as the wind blew through my hair and I felt myself let go.
The water was cool and refreshing as it splashed on my legs. Mud flew all around me and up my back tire. I laughed to myself at how good it felt, and I knew I had to share the experience with my youngest child, Serenity, who loved my crazy adventures just as much as I did. I turned around and sped back to the house, eager to get her out of bed as soon as possible while the morning was still cool and crisp.
A bright morning at home.
Serenity grabbed her bike and headed down the road behind me. I explained as we rode that I had found something riveting and wanted her to see it. That alone intrigued her and she came without argument or any questions asked.
We made it to the park in no time. I stopped short of the row of puddles that lay in our path. She came right behind me, placing both feet on the ground, waiting for me to show her what I had discovered. Spontaneously, I turned to her with a grin and took off through those puddles. She didn’t even have time to grasp what was happening!
She just watched in dismay as I ran through each puddle whooping and hollering in delight; mud, and water flying rapidly around. When I got back to her, she only asked one thing, “Are you sure this is okay, Mom?”
I knew we would need showers and our clothes washed, I knew what we were getting into, but I also knew we needed to let go and live in the moment. When I nodded with permission, she didn’t hesitate once as she flew through those puddles, letting the mud fly high with the sound of her laughter that will leave a beautiful echo in my heart for the rest of my days.
Serenity plowing through the mud.
From that moment on, we called it Mud Biking. Our morning was spent flying through those puddles, getting absolutely filthy, taking a risk, and laughing the whole way through as we created a beautiful memory during a tough time in our lives.
Perspective goes a long way. When we can’t avoid the mud puddles in our life, sometimes it is best to plow right through. Sure, we get mud in our hair, sludge in our socks, and feel the bumps of the ragged terrain kick back on the shocks of our bikes. But, if we don’t ride through, we will never get to the other side and experience the journey of growth through the mud. In addition, we could end up missing out on a fun challenge. And sometimes, you have to get dirty to get to the beautiful parts of life.
My daughter and me: Mud Biking Champs! 😊
This is the story of Cassidy Yepez-Martinez
Cassidy lives in a small town just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. After the world was hit with stay-at-home orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cassidy and her family did their best to keep positive and stay afloat. But when tensions soared and the tiredness set in, Cassidy found a way to pick up the spirits of those she loves most.
Cassidy believes in simplicity and that beauty can be found in even the most trying times. Life experience is the best form of education and love is the way through life. Her favorite part of her life is being a mom. She’s learned the most from watching her children. She’s also experienced the most frustrating times in her life with back talking teens, but she wouldn't trade it for the world. She is old fashioned and enjoys going to bed early just to rise before the sun does so she can embrace the beauty of a new day. Her go-to quarantine snack was a bag of fruit loops and skittles. One thing that she will miss on the verge of normalcy is all of the uninterrupted time that she had with her family. She and her family are long overdue for a beach vacation and she hopes to go again soon.
This story first touched our hearts on April 14, 2020
Writer: Cassidy Yepez-Martinez | Editor: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker