Welcome to 2020. This year began with so much promise, as new years tend to do. It was the beginning of a new decade. It was a time for new promises to ourselves and our loved ones. We were all going to do better, be better this year. And as with most of these resolutions, by week two or three, most were out the window, either by accident or by lack of discipline.
I had made the promise to myself to eat better, slow down a little, and try to spend more time with my family. I knew it would be challenging, being a busy working mom of three children who were involved in extracurriculars and who had commitments to attending therapy multiple times a week. Weekends quickly became the time to get chores done, and just like that, my resolution to slow down was dissolved by the demands of life. I was stressed, my life was go-go-go, and I found myself taking out my frustrations on those around me. This year was not going the way I had planned.
And then, a few months into our year, I was suddenly forced to stop everything. Schools were closed. Businesses were closed. Parks and museums closed. Work came home indefinitely. Our family went from going our separate ways five days a week to being in one space every hour of every day. Just like that, sports ground to a halt, extracurriculars were no longer required, and therapy happened from the living room couch. Schedules were suddenly erased, as we had nowhere to go. As a planner, this could’ve easily been a nightmare.
I don’t know how you have been feeling about everything that’s been going on. But as for me and my anxiety, this pandemic has triggered fears about trying to keep myself and my family safe while also ensuring we have what we need, making sure that I am keeping my children entertained, and trying to navigate through the treacherous waters of homeschooling.
As with most things, it seems that my friends have it down pat — their children have taken to being at home and getting their schoolwork done around the kitchen table, while I struggle to help my nine-year-old answer a simple reading comprehension problem. I have no idea what the next day holds, no clue as to when things will get back to normal. And while I am still planning a Disney trip for my family for later this summer, I haven’t begun to acknowledge the anxiety that accompanies the unknown for those plans either. If I do, I might explode.
For type-A personalities, this pandemic could have been the worst thing ever to have happened. We have no control over most of the things that we want to be able to have a hand in. Plans are no longer relevant, and we are at the mercy of a highly contagious virus that is having its way with humanity.
But despite the anxiety I have about the unknown, there are a few things of which I am sure. While I can’t control what’s going on out there, I can control how I respond to it. I can control my attitude, which can help shape my children’s attitudes. I can control encouragement and gratitude for the things that we have, the resources we have, and the time we suddenly have. I can control how we spend this newfound time together.
While I can’t control whether or not a child might have a meltdown while trying to complete an “impossible” assignment, I can control how the school day schedule looks, giving my children choices about what they want to do and interjecting fun activities to break up the monotony of worksheets. I can control how much we get outside and explore our neighborhood. I can control how often I work out. I can control how much I show my love for my family during a time when not much else is certain.
Finding peace during this time can be a challenge, but it is also a choice we have to make. It is easy to let anxiety and worry overwhelm us. This is a scary time, and it’s okay to acknowledge that things are difficult right now. But it’s also on us to count our blessings, to realize what this time also brings for our society which is desperately needed right now. We have been forced to close. Earth, for the most part, is closed right now. Most of us have been forced to stop. And in this still, we can gain clarity about what is most important. We can learn to enjoy spending time with ourselves so that we can better appreciate spending time with each other.
We have learned that first responders, medical professionals, military personnel, and those who work in food services are valued and needed members of our society. Our country is literally in their hands right now. We have suddenly been made to understand how to be resourceful and creative with what we have. And we are starting to understand that there is a real difference between what is essential and what we can do without. In appreciating what we have, we can acknowledge that not everyone has what we so often take for granted. It’s time to give back to those less fortunate, to even the playing field so that everyone has a chance to live their best lives. It’s time to come together, to support each other, to love each other.
It’s about time.
I choose to spend this time slowing down, taking in every single day to enjoy for the sake of living in it. Our days are not meant to be counted down or wasted. Our days are not meant to be rushed through or scheduled down to the very last second. We have been given life, not without challenges, to enjoy to the fullest.
In these days of uncertainty, I will be certain to create memories with my family that will help my kids to remember this time, not for the stress it created, but for the adventures they experienced. I hope that this is a time that they will look back and remember the closeness we experienced as a family, playing together, eating together, just being together.
Whether it’s heading in for the beginning of a long shift in the ER; whether it’s checking in for the weekly meeting with your job while trying to keep your preschooler entertained; whether you are out of work and are trying to navigate unemployment for the first time; or whether you still have loads of work deadlines to meet while homeschooling your easily-distracted 3rd grader — my hope is that we all, despite our individual circumstances, can find some peace during this pandemic. That despite all the stress it has the potential to create within us, we can find a way to take our lives back, to remember that within each day is the promise of something amazing simply because we haven’t lived that day before and now we get to live it this day.
Life isn’t easy right now, nor should it be, but we can be in control of how we choose to approach each day. And there is no time like now, when all we have is time. Let’s make it count for something.
2020 isn’t over yet.