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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

Saying Goodbye to the Year We Will All Want to Forget

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Our family of five has ushered out this weird, strange, disconcerting, hell of a year in much the same way that we spent our first few months of it - together but isolated, relaxed but restless, faithful but fearful, happy - so very happy at times, and also sad - deep, lingering sadness that can't be cured with an ice cream cone or a new outfit.

Receiving a positive Covid test result on the morning of Christmas Eve seemed to be an entirely appropriate ending to the year that must not be named. This year was unlike anything we'd ever anticipated, imagined, or experienced. There was no roadmap, no learned the hard way parental wisdom with which to share with our three teens. This was a real-time crisis, and for once, we were quite literally in it together as a family. Each one of us trying to figure out how to best navigate the complete disruption of our everyday lives.

So what did we learn from the chaos that has ensued these last 9 months? In some ways, I think we haven't changed one bit, and in some ways, I think we are changed forever. I guess only time will tell, but here are some important takeaways that stick out in my mind as we get ready to take on 2021.

1. Life will throw curveballs your way. You can catch them, you can dodge them, you can get hit right smack in the face with them, but you can't stop them from coming. I hope that whatever happens in the future, our kids can always hold on to their memories of this past year (the disappointments, the losses, the things that never came to be) and know that they are resilient. In spite of disappointments, they can and must keep keeping on - it might not be easy, it might be pretty dang hard, but they can do it. I hope that this year has shown them - they CAN do it.

2. Family and friendships are a treasure and should be treated accordingly. If we didn't learn that this year, then we haven't learned anything at all.

3. Community matters - every single person in whatever job they do impacts your life in some way. Treat your community well because it just doesn't work if we can't depend on one another.

4. Getting outside, building, creating, reading, baking - these are the things that soothe the soul. Put down the phone and just DO it!

5. You can make your own happiness wherever you may be. Travel is wonderful, going out to eat at a great restaurant is a dream, and staying in a fancy hotel is just the best BUT if you cannot do these things, you can still be happy. Happiness comes from within, and it's up to each of us to find our happy wherever our feet may be planted. And while we're at it, we have an obligation to do our part to make others happy too.

So cheers to holding on to the good, letting go of the bad, and looking forward to all the adventure that awaits in 2021!


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