Adrift among endless ROM and COVID fatigue

A fellow USNA parent messaged me on Facebook the other day. “Sorry to see that you’ve shut down your blog. I guess since your son graduated, you had to move on,” then went on with a few humbling platitudes.

My first thought was that I had let the domain expire and some URL squatter had bought it and was displaying some random homepage. No, turns out the blog is there and it took me a moment to realize why the person had sent the message. There weren’t many recent posts.

I sat back and pondered the message. It’s not, as the parent surmised, that I “moved on” from USNA. Far from it. I’ve found myself lurking on numerous parents’ Facebook group pages, keeping up with the seemingly endless discussion about ROM, COVID vaccines, and the uncertainty around Commissioning Week. While my relationship with USNA has changed, it hasn’t ended. What was it, then, that has been keeping my blog relatively dormant?

The first is, quite frankly, fatigue. Not fatigue around writing about USNA. No, I realized the constant grind of the COVID-19 lockdowns, especially how they have manifested themselves at USNA, have pretty much worn me out. Those who know me know that I am an optimist, and I had fully expected that by now, the USNA parent Facebook pages would be flooded with pictures of Mids on Spring Break and the excitement around Commissioning Week. Instead, the discussions are all too familiar to Class of 2020 parents – will there be Commissioning Week? Will they have a “real” in-person graduation? I find the posts depress me.

The second is I’m not sure how much I can be of assistance. One of my really smart USNA parent friends responded to a post from a Plebe To Be (Class of 2025), who had asked, basically, what to expect. My smart friend responded, essentially, no one here can tell you, because just about everything has changed. In some ways, I feel like I’ve come full circle – as a Plebe Parent, I was clueless and helpless. As an Alum Parent, I now feel very much the same.

Last, I guess, is something akin to Writer’s Block. I have learned over the years that this affliction can take many forms, not just “I can’t think of anything to write,” which is the standard. It can be the inability to find the best word or phrase. It can be a lost plotline. That’s not it. My head is swirling with 1,001 topics I want to write about. I find myself swimming through words and phrases that resonate with me. No, this time it’s quite specific. I don’t have the focus or energy to put together anything I would consider long form. Sure, I make Facebook and Instagram posts, I reply to things I find interesting. But to weave together anything of substance eludes me and I can only chalk that up to COVID fatigue.

The never-ending ROM has me in a sullen mood. The fact that rumors persist that Commissioning Week 2021 may be scuttled (much as ours was) only makes the mood darker. I see some of my fellow USNA creators seeming to steam along effortlessly. And the spiral downward continues. I’m not jealous of them, just impressed for their ability to do what I cannot.

I want to express my empathy with the current parents, especially those with Firsties. I want to embrace the rest of the Brigade and let them know better days are ahead. I want to extend a warm welcome to the incoming Class of 2025. I don’t feel confident I can do any of those right now.

Maybe this post is a step in that direction, but who knows? Until I rediscover my North Star, the course is uncertain.

11 thoughts on “Adrift among endless ROM and COVID fatigue

  1. Karl.
    Listen.
    Cut yourself some slack already.
    In all the time I’ve known you, from when we were dam’kids at Boys State and college to me working for you as a freelancer, I’ve seen you take on responsibility upon responsibility, never satisfied with “good enough, I guess” and making it look like it wasn’t nothin’ at all — even after I learned better.
    And now you’ve taken on another responsibility of guiding another set of young minds, and I know beyond certainty you’ll do your damndest to teach them to never be satisfied with “good enough, I guess” in an arena that grows ever more important even as society as a whole is taught to not only reject, but denigrate, its importance — and, in the process, filling a pair of shoes we both have reason to know are pretty damn big.
    Maybe it’s not Navy or the USNA, but it’s pretty important to a lot of people, even those who don’t know it or who have been herded into believing the opposite.
    So you should cut yourself some slack in this regard, and those who wish to come at you with assumption and platitudes because you’re no longer providing something for free should cut you some slack, too.
    Fair winds and following seas, my friend.
    (It’s as much a saying on the freighters as on the frigates.)

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  2. As a parent of an USAFA2019 grad, I felt that I dodged a bullet from the pandemic. However, my now nearly First Lieutenant Cyber Security Officer has not been immune to these crazy times. He has experienced numerous delays beyond normal to each stage of training, and worked mainly remotely from his elaborate computer setup in his off base housing. Until recently, he rarely has mingled with enlisted and other officers. In a nutshell, as he gets closer to serving out his commitment, he barely has a taste of what a career as a US military officer looks like. Despite that, he is of good cheer and has good friends and fellow alumnae who help each other with their morale. We pray this pandemic will end soon, so that we can all pull ourselves up by our boot straps and bring a united purpose and love for one another back to this great nation.

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  3. Good morning Karl, I thoroughly enjoy when you share one of your musings…it helps me as a 2020 parent realize that the pandemic dealt us a bad hand but we still can move forward. I also understand you can just be plan tired and not at a point that you have anything that you may want to write about. While we all process what is still occurring and that the class of 2021 may have the same fate as the class of 2020 I agree, cut yourself some slack.
    Please be well and I look forward to the next time you find something to share.
    Blessings to you and your family
    Elizabeth (Ramesh’s mom)
    Boston, MA

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  4. As a sponsor, the Mids are doing their best to stay focused and look forward to the next things, to breaks or liberty but it’s hard. You words resonate with so much so don’t feel lost, you are not alone!

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