Family Life

Turning the Page

As we get closer to 2020 ending, I’ve been reflecting back on many of the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I wanted to spend more time talking to people, getting out of my comfort zone and relating to others in different situations, re-focusing on developing and growing my faith, and my commitment to lead my family in the church. Not to mention becoming an all-around nicer person. Well, COVID had a few things to say about these goals! Not surprisingly, my goals changed once we moved into pandemic mode and as I start to think about what I want to do in 2021, I’m reflecting on some of the lessons that I’ve learned this year, especially things about myself and how I’ve learned to adapt as an individual, but also as a parent and spouse. The outlook for 2021 is so different than 2020, but that’s not shocking considering everything that has happened this year. My goals were, and continue to be, an evolving thing, without question.

Once the pandemic hit, one of the new goals I set for myself was to continue to write during the pandemic. I wanted to share with all of you our experiences, drop nuggets of wisdom and carefully crafted words that would translate great to social media with lots of cool pictures of the things we were all doing at home. I was shocked, though, at how difficult it became for me to focus on sorting through my thoughts, much less articulate them in a way that made sense to you guys or to look reasonable, coherent, or sober. When we got word that we would be quarantined at home back in March and schools closed for the year, we initially took the “glass half full approach” and found some really fun stuff to do together each day. We played kickball in the driveway, enjoyed beautiful spring weather, and took bike rides. Every. Single. Afternoon. The grind of “work from home” and “virtual learning” definitely took some of the shine off of this unique time we were given with each other. Time that we never would have had before and time that we may never have known that we needed. Despite the challenges that we encountered, when it was over and we were going back to work, I immediately missed the time I had with my kids and the time my wife and I had with each other during the day. I was able to appreciate so much more what she does on a daily basis and how hard she works. She got to see how much I talk during the day, even though my “meetings” consisted of me in front of my laptop or walking around talking to myself in my headphones! My focus turned inward to my family and all of my energy went to them and keeping myself afloat. I like to think I would have had some really amazing blogs during those months, but maybe we can get that going in 2021!

Throughout the quarantine period, we wanted to show the kids how to manage all of the change that was suddenly being thrown at us in a genuine/honest manner. I didn’t always do a great job of this, but I think the fact that we were able to be open with our kids about how much of a struggle it was for us is one of the lasting positive impacts from this crazy year. They were able to see us in both good and bad moments, balance needs at work and with our work teams alongside the demands of our family, all at the same time. I’ve written before about how the role of a parent is two-sided sometimes and that we have to be open about our shortcomings in order to grow. Talk about taking a dose of your own medicine – I found myself apologizing for being grumpy, inattentive, or just plain frustrated but also realizing the time we were having together was so unique and something we would never get again.

While I was focused on my own hot mess of a quarantine, I was surprised at how well the kids all responded to the stress at home. Not only were they able to quickly adapt to the virtual learning environment, they adjusted their personal styles of learning and found what worked for each of them. One needed solitude, while the others needed to be close to each other. They did this on their own, and it showed me how resilient and adaptable kids are; I forget this too often. I was impressed at how well they handled it and know that some of the skills they developed during quarantine will serve the well in the future.

Looking back, I really hope that the one thing that our kids took away from our time together in quarantine was the love and care that we all have for each other. It was hard, at times, to stay positive and to simply be nice, but we truly were all in it together. We grew closer together in the midst of the COVID chaos. I know as they get older and have an opportunity to process what has happened this year and reflect on their own struggles and successes, they will remember that we tried to set the stage for stability and safety, even though we were, very clearly, on the struggle bus ourselves. It’s part of what being family is all about. So as we, thankfully, begin to turn the page on 2020, I want to continue to lean into the growth that I experienced this year and make 2021 a year of continued reflection and positive movement. As much as I was ready to get out of quarantine, part of me still misses those mid-day bike rides and hearing my kids laugh in the springtime sun. I’ll remember those good moments when I think back to the lost year of 2020.

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