Moms, we’ve made it. We made it into the new year.
And while I am under no illusions that 2021 will be any sort of magical reset button, I have to admit that there is a big part of me that breathed a massive sigh of relief when that clock ticked down on midnight (and yes, by some miracle, I did make it to midnight with at least some of my offspring). There was just something very satisfying about saying an official goodbye to what was a spectacularly crappy year for many of us.
What version of crappiness 2020 dished out looked a lot different for us; some of us faced real grief and loss, some of us faced personal challenges and stressors, and some of us just tried to make it through in one piece. But the one thing that we all had in common is simple: it was a rough year. Which is exactly why next year will be totally different. In fact, we are declaring that 2021 will be the Year of the Mom.
Year of the Mom
What exactly is the Year of the Mom? Well, I’m glad you asked. The Year of the Mom is all about renewal. As moms, we lost a lot last year and so many of us clawed our way through to the finish line, just hoping to make it there in one piece. We had no real sense of direction, purpose, or intent, and in a lot of ways, it felt like we put ourselves dead, dead last above everything else that needed to be prioritized.
And that ends now.
Enter, the Year of the Mom. The Year of the Mom means that in 2021, moms come first. Yes, it will take us some time—for some, a significant amount of time—to get back what we lost. We’ve been forced out of the workforce, we’ve become accidental homeschoolers, we’ve taken on roles we never meant to. And while that all may not disappear or change just because the calendar did, we can choose to change. We can put aside the pressures of 2020 and decide to put ourselves first this year.
The good news is, the Year of the Mom shouldn’t feel like any added pressure to you. It’s not about resolutions or to-dos or doing anything other than exactly what you feel like doing. The Year of the Mom is about wiping the slate clean and realizing that last year showed us exactly what actually matters: and it’s not keeping our kids on schedules or the right amount of homework or even the perfect activity. Instead, it’s prioritizing our own mental and physical health so we can be there when our families—and ourselves—need it.
Maybe that means being OK with more screen time for the kids. Maybe it means finally enforcing that chore list—for everyone. Maybe that means embracing that you’re the type of mom who thrives when her kids are out of the house (even if that’s not possible yet). Maybe that means accepting that you’re not the arts-and-crafts type of mom. Maybe that means choosing to love your body and acknowledge that those quarantine pounds represent that you coped through a historic year the best you could and it’s really OK.
The Year of the Mom could mean a lot of different things, but above all, it means finally letting the pressures of 2020 off your shoulders.
The Truth: 2020 Was Not My Year
Personally, the past year was an incredibly difficult one full of mixed emotions for me as a mom. On one hand, I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to have extra time with my children. But on the other, it was a lot of extra, extra time. It was a complete upheaval in schedules and routines and in everything that I had worked so carefully to keep in place over the years. Literally overnight, I had all 5 of my children home, had to hobble together a homeschool routine for them, and figure out how to do my own job in the midst of it all.
I tried so hard to convince myself that the extra togetherness could be a hidden blessing, but let’s be real: the constant uncertainty that swirled around us with every news update, the fear about what might happen to our families, the changes that hit out of nowhere with school and work—no matter how much I tried to talk myself into embracing the positive, the hard truth is that there was a lot of stress mixed in there too. And it affected me. A lot. In fact, it seemed to affect me physically too, because at the end of the year, when the cheer of the holidays finally beckoned, I fell sick.
I developed classic COVID-19 symptoms: a high fever, headache, dry cough, and nausea. Unfortunately, my sickness has lasted over a month with no end in sight and cast a pretty dark shadow over our family’s holiday festivities. When you can’t function running your house as a mom and have to depend on your partner and kids to do everything, let me just tell you—it’s an incredibly hard feeling.
A Fresh Start
However hard 2020 was—and despite the fact that 2021 is already throwing some curveballs my way—I’m taking the Year of the Mom to heart already. Because here’s the thing: I’ve finally learned the importance of letting go of all of the expectations I’ve placed on myself as a mom.
All through last year, I thought I had to cling tightly to doing things “right,” even when the world was crumbling around us. I thought surely that if I relaxed the reigns at all, our own little world at home would collapse too. But as it would so happen, it took me getting sick at the end of the entire year to show me that I had it all wrong. Turns out, my kids are capable of pouring themselves a bowl of cereal without me. They can help sweep the floor and switch the laundry. They really won’t turn into zombies if I give in and let them play on their tablets all day. Heck, my 8-year-old even did a reading workbook by himself without any prompting. (And yes, I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes either.)
The point is: the kids are all right. And this year, moms, it’s important to make sure that we’re all right too.
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