By Kristina Spieker, CPA

My parents used to call me Grace when I was a child. Was it my middle name? No. It was purely because I was the exact opposite of what you think of when you hear “grace” or graceful. Broken leg, stitches, rolled four-wheelers, covered in dirt, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind when you think of a girl, surrounded by boys and men on the farm, growing up in rural Iowa. Rip roaring with the thought of invincibility and pushing the limits was how I went through my daily life as a child. Despite how that sounds negative in nature, above all things my parents always taught me to be kind and give it my all. I guess pushing the limits was me giving my all, whether it be a new trick on the trampoline resulting in a broken leg, climbing onto the swings at a young age and ripping my lip open on a little red (probably rusty) wagon I used to reach the swings, or spending my days traveling through the dirt roads on a four wheeler. Rest assured, my kindness came into play when apologizing to the doctor after screaming about the stitches in my lip and kindly lifting the four-wheeler back up that my cousin and I were traveling on after we tipped it over.

This new “normal” in life that we are surrounded by makes me think of grace constantly. I feel like I talk about it almost daily with one person or another. As kids go back to school, whether it be in person or virtually, we all must go through life with much more grace and forgiveness than we maybe did in the past. My son is a kindergartner this year. It is his first year in school all day and his first year riding the bus. That coveted, big, yellow bus has been something he has been looking forward to for over a year. Week one we were 50/50 on getting off the bus at his stop and/or getting put on the right bus after school. After the initial panic set in of him not getting off the bus on day one, I started thinking of how different things are this year and how everyone is going to have to be more adaptable. You are sick of hearing it, but it is unchartered territory for us all as we navigate the new school year. On day one when the bus driver came back around to drop off my son after missing his stop, I could feel my frustrations and his as well. I echoed these thoughts that have been heavy in my head and heart, “Please remember to be patient with him and give him some grace. He is a kindergartner and this is all new to him. He is the only kid at the stop and is learning the new normal for him.” The next day, the bus driver gave me a wave as in recognizing that we do need to slow down and be a bit more graceful with ourselves and others. Although I couldn’t see it, I am sure he was smiling behind that new mask he wears as part of his uniform. We had one more successful day after that, but then on day four my son ended up getting put on the wrong bus. Grace. The second week of school we hit 100% success rate and have been going strong since.

As professionals, we are also faced with virtual working environments that may be different from the past and schedules that are not always aligned across the board with those we work with due to life commitments and new responsibilities. Not only are many people working full time, some are also teaching their kids, setting up virtual learning, playing chauffeur because of busing changes, and staying home with kids because a symptom appeared or another kid tested positive at daycare that caused them to be quarantined for fourteen days. Unfortunately, the possibilities are endless. As I go about my day wearing many different hats (the mom hat, the wife hat, the professional hat, the household hat, and the “I am a person too” hat), I find myself now more than ever also gently reminding myself that I need turn that grace inward just as much as I am giving others grace outward. This new normal is taking some time to get used to, but if we remember to be kind and graceful to others, we can definitely navigate it in a much more positive way.

Kristina Spieker, CPA | Manager