A year ago, on a Friday much like this one, I put my kindergartener on the bus, not knowing it was the last day of school. As soon as she was gone, I buckled my toddler into her carseat and drove through the snow. Normally I don’t have to leave the house for work, but I was volunteering with a non-profit, and there was an in-person training (remember when that was a thing?). On the way home from the training I stopped with my toddler to get lunch, unmasked and lighthearted.
The first sign that this day would be wholly unusual was when I stopped by the grocery store. We were genuinely out of toilet paper — and it turns out the grocery store was too. Seeing the empty shelve was the first scary sign that things were about to change drastically.
A year into the pandemic, that’s certainly true. We’ve encountered more than we thought we would ever parent through, and have risen to the occasion. There’s been a lot of loss — of life, of learning, of a sense of security. I know that because of that, some people don’t want to hear about the positives of the pandemic, and I completely understand that. But on the first anniversary of the day our “normal” lives went out the door, I want to acknowledge what I’ve learned this year, because I’m sure many moms have had similar lessons.
Seeing those empty grocery shelves last year was frightening. When I got home my husband and his friend were joking about how we might need to all hunker down together, but there was an element of truth to their words. Because it was a Friday evening, and my older daughter always sleeps at her Mimis on Friday, off she went. But in the middle of the night I woke up, tempted to go get her so that my little family could be safe together.
I didn’t of course. I reminded myself that she was just as safe with my mom as she would be at home. I put on a brave face for the first of many, many times this year and did what was best for my child. None of us ever thought we’d be parenting through a pandemic, but we did it.
We Can Adapt
We all have an idea of what normal life should look like. This year has shown how difficult it can be when our lives are turned upside down. I’ve written a lot this year about the idea of resilience, the ability to bounce back and adapt to change. Moms, who are often leading their families, are especially resilient. When our kids look back on this year, they’ll draw strength from our courage in making a new normal work.
We Can Have Tough Conversations
2020 was a doozie, not just with the pandemic, but with conversations around politics, racial justice and gender equity. Many of us had to navigate differences with the people we love, whether around risk tolerance with the virus or political differences. Although there have been tough moments, these conversations have often happened with grace and compassion, showing that we can work with and love people who make different decisions.
We Define Our Values
Before this year, lots of families, including mine, were caught up in the day-to-day demands of our jobs, schooling and extracurricular activities. Then, it all came to a screeching halt. While some people have missed the hustle and bustle, others (like me!) have realized that a slower pace of life is nice. We’ve recognized that it’s ok to step back from the over-scheduling of modern life and make time for what’s most important to us personally.
When my kids look back on this year, I hope they see the silver linings among the devastation. I hope they’ll see how families were able to adapt, and the adults in their lives did their best to keep them safe and well during a time that was tough for all of us. One day, they can look back on this year of the pandemic and see that, like their parents, they are capable of doing hard things.
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