Any year has it’s ups and downs, but it’s hard to imagine a year more fraught with emotion and uncertainty than 2020. A quick review from my perspective:
January: Utterly uneventful. How nice that sounds now!
February: My parents came to visit us for Alden and Zach’s birthdays. None of us had any inkling that in just a couple weeks time the world would turn upside down. Nor did we know it would be the last time we would hug my parents, see them face-to-face, for a very long time.
March: Somewhere in the first three days of the month, Alden and I both came down sick. I didn’t realize until weeks later that it could be COVID. I spent nearly 5 weeks practically bedridden, sicker than I have ever been in my life. The schools closed, Zach was working from home, and nothing made sense anymore. And to top it off, an enormous freaking earthquake. March just might take the “Month of the Year” prize for 2020.
April: I continued to be sick, desperately trying to find a doctor who would take me seriously. Dinah turned two with very little fanfare.
May: We went for a family hike to escape our locked-in lives for a day. I was shocked to discover how much my illness was still affecting me, as my heart raced and my lungs felt like they couldn’t fill with air.
June: Zach and I celebrated ten years of marriage with a takeout dinner. A far cry from the tropical vacation for two we had been dreaming of. I continued to have daily fevers through the end of the month. Zach went back to working from the office.
July: Thanks to the fireworks show being canceled, the kids got to experience the joy of lighting off fireworks themselves for the very first time. They were all fans, especially Alden. The kids and I lived in the backyard and I implemented a summer homeschool schedule in a desperate attempt to keep us all semi-sane.
August: Eleanor turned eight and was officially diagnosed with dyslexia, which we had long suspected. School started in a full-virtual format and I nearly lost my mind the first week. We eventually found our rhythm, but it’s never exactly been smooth sailing. At the end of the month, Alden, Eleanor, and I all got swabbed for coronavirus again when we developed symptoms. We were all negative, just a cold but it re-triggered the overactive inflammatory response Alden and I had been struggling with since March, causing COVID-like symptoms to appear again.
September: I turned thirty-seven. Zoey turned ten, which I’m simultaneously loving and still trying to accept. And -joy of all joys! – Alden started hybrid school and got to spend less time on the school iPad and two days a week with his actual teacher.
October: more joy! Zoey and Eleanor got to join hybrid school as well! And the kids declared it the “best Halloween ever” despite only trick-or-treating the six houses on our street (who all got special treats just for them, the only kids on the block). Another cold for Alden, Eleanor, and I, again re-triggering our COVID symptoms and sending us for another round of coronavirus testing.
November: Well, that didn’t last long. Skyrocketing cases in the community throughout Idaho. Thanksgiving came and with it a complete lack of time with extended family and the re-closure of schools due to lack of healthy, non-quarantined staff. Back to all-virtual distance learning. At least there was the enormous relief of seeing Biden and Harris win the election. And the absolute best news of the year came on the first day of the month when we (virtually) welcomed a new niece to the family. That baby has been an absolute ray of sunshine in a very dark year.
December: It feels like the whole world is looking forward to the holidays more this year than ever before. Anything that brings a bit of joy and light into the world. There are some big changes in the works for me (and, by extension, our family) that I hope will be good for me in many ways. I feel hopeful, optimistic. And the biggest miracle of all: coronavirus vaccines!
As I said, emotions have run high this year. There was a lot of anxiety about whether to enroll the kids in their regular school or just go all-virtual. Stress and worry about every grocery trip, every holiday or event, every fever or cough. There has been a physical exhaustion like I have never known, due in large part to being post-COVID, but also due to never, ever being truly “alone.” There have been tears and meltdowns from everyone. There has been homesickness for Washington and missing my parents so much it hurts.
There has also been a deep and profound sense of gratitude. Looking at our small stockpile of canned soups or disinfectant wipes in the garage brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It seems silly for something like household goods to affect my emotions so strongly, but that little bit of extra on hand (and I do mean a little bit, we have not been hoarding or stockpiling months worth of goods. Just a bit more than we normally keep on hand) means security to me in these uncertain times. It’s something tangible that I can control when absolutely nothing is under my control anymore.
There has been a daily thankfulness for the extra hugs, cuddles, and “I love you Moms” from my kids that I would never have received if they were at school all day. These years with them fly by in ways I never could have imagined, and I’m soaking up every moment I can.
I think 2020 has, above all else, driven home to us just how much our families and friends mean to us, whether by being together 24/7 for months on end or by being apart longer than we ever dreamed we could stand. It has taught us about the resiliency and courage of human nature. It has redefined the term “essential.” It has shown us how amazingly creative and adaptable the human race can be. And it has shown us that we are far stronger than we ever imagined we could be: we can carry more, last longer, keep pushing through against odds far greater than we ever thought possible. While 2020 has been brutal and devastating for so many, it has also been inspiring. I, for one, plan to keep those lessons with me for a lifetime.