When the kids walked out of school at noon on 13 March 2020, little did we know what was in store for us.
The two week break stretched to three, to five, to eight weeks, then all the way to summer vacation. Remote schooling, no activities, no playdates. A lonely and often disconnected existence.
Back to school was delayed into September, while plans were finalized, then the kids were remote for a month before starting a hybrid, week on/week off, schedule. And, so it went on. With mask wearing and 6ft distancing at all times when in-person, following along on Google Meets when remote. A very different school year.
Last week my daughter finally went back to school full-time, as the start of a push to get all kids in the State back in the classroom. The boys are still hybrid, but should be back by the end of April. It’s been a long time coming.
When I look back at the past year it’s with mixed feelings. It’s been tough going at times, but it’s also been full of wonderful moments. As a family we have found a new rhythm to life, one that is less frantic. That has been a good thing. Perhaps in some ways, just what we needed. An enforced reset.
That is not to minimize the difficulties that this year has brought. For my sociable, extrovert daughter, the lack of social contact has been particularly hard. Even her introvert mother has missed some unexpected things. I never thought I would miss small talk. In fact, I worry that I have somewhat lost the ability for easy, random chatter, so out of practice I am!
It has been one hell of a year and we still have a way to go.
We may be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel now, but we’re still travelling through it. Going slowly and carefully in the dark so that we don’t stumble or lose our way. We just need to hold on a while longer.
But, for all that this year has taken from us, it has given too. It has given us time, it has given us perspective, it has given us a renewed sense of what is important.
So, what have I learnt?
That we don’t need a bajillion activities to keep us happy. A slower pace hasn’t been the end of the world. We are all less tired and less grumpy.
That the kids are incredibly resilient, and while I wish very much that they had never had to navigate this year, they have made me so proud with the way they have handled it. They have learnt to be so much more independent and self-sufficient. The cries of I’m bored! have reduced in frequency and they have all grown up. We have encouraged them to take on more responsibility (and more chores!) and they have risen to the challenge. They each make dinner one night a week, and that alone has reduced my mental load significantly!
That lockdown was the perfect time to get a dog, and she has been the best addition to our family. We love her, and now can’t imagine life without her.
That getting outside is wonderful, but it’s also okay to enjoy just being at home. We are under no obligation to live any life other than the one we want to live.
That I really am very happy in my own company. Give me a good book, lots of tea, and I will be okay! There are times that I worry about my anti-social tendencies, and I do get lonely sometimes. But, I am comfortable in myself, and with myself, and this year has helped me learn that I don’t need to be anyone else. I don’t need to be more than I am. If I need some company, I am perfectly capable of arranging some, but it’s okay to be okay on my own, it doesn’t make me deficient in some way.
That the people who do reach out and keep in touch are worth their weight in gold.
That as a family, we do love a project, and laying a patio, while backbreaking work, was so worth it. It gave us purpose at a time when that was much needed, and we now have a new ‘room’ and that we will be able to enjoy all year. Now we just need to find this years project!
That I love our little family. We are strong, we are happy. We work. That even after a year of living in each other’s pockets we can still laugh. That while I will be glad to return to a somewhat more normal existence, I will miss spending my days in our little bubble.
So, 2020, we were not sad to say goodbye, but you weren’t all bad.
2021, you are showing potential, please don’t let us down!