“2020 is just cancelled” I overheard a woman say yesterday. These words felt spot on and I felt an immediate sense of relief upon hearing them. This year has been horrid. We have been cracked right open and have no idea who will put us back together or how to do it ourselves.
I did one of those see-all-the-moments-in-a-single-second reflections of the past five months- you know, when you think back over a million moments in just a second or two? I though of how, like everyone, I have tried to keep life good and happy and cozy for my kids. “God,” I thought after hearing that woman, “that makes things so much easier. Let’s just acknowledge that 2020 is cancelled and take all the pressure off. This is all just too much.”
Then I remembered.
My oldest turns 13 in a few weeks. My youngest will be 11 shortly thereafter. Those ages are coming whether or not I deem 2020 cancelled. When all of this is over, another year will have passed- a year that my children are home with me. One short year that separates them from a time when they will be on their own.
We had big plans for 2020. We’ve traveled the country north, south, east and west many times over. We have seen the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the flatness of the midwest. We have explored off the beaten path tourist stops and driven Miss Daisy (our guinea pig) cross-country twice. 2020 was our year to leave US borders and begin to show our kids the world.
2020 was also our year to settle after having lived the last eight away from home. Eight years trying to fit into and build a community that was never meant to be ours. 2020 was the year we finally exhaled. We were home; surrounded by people who love us and whom we love. We were back where we belong.
2020 was the year our shoulders melted into belonging and the year the ocean salt ate away the tension that had built up for too long. When the new year rang, my husband and I looked at each other knowing we had not only righted our ship, we were sailing full steam ahead on calm waters powered by happiness.
Having lived through many struggles (click here to read) over the past decade, we fully appreciated the life we had built and where we were headed. We started to trust that the other shoe was not going to drop.
Then, along with the rest of the world, all the shoes dropped. Or, at least it felt that way. And here we all are.
We are so tired. We are confused. We don’t know what is real and what is media spin. We want to do the right thing, support the right people, do more than enough, but not more than is necessary. After all, this is a year of our one precious lives!
Though life looks nearly unrecognizable, life is going on. A year is passing. When the new year turns, it will be 2021. Our kids will be older. Our time on this earth will be shorter. The years we have left with our children at home will be less. Museums may be closed. Festivals may be cancelled. Travel may be limited. Our life though, is still happening.
This recognition is not meant to put pressure on an already intense period in life. Nor is it meant to pretend reality is not happening. For me, this understanding is helping me to sink deeper into loving my time with my kids- this time when my husband is not traveling and we all get to be together all day, every day.
For me, it means allowing myself to get lost in gratitude that my kids have no days of sadness that dad is leaving for a trip tomorrow. It means being grateful that we are finding a new rhythm at home that allows me more time to work and write because my husband is able to contribute more around the house.
For me, it means staying present to the reality that if I check out for a year, it’s a(nother) year I will have lost. I have already lost too many years to poor mental health and alcohol abuse. I can’t willingly lose another.
I am not trying to see this awful situation through rose colored glasses. I’m scared, too. I am scared about lots of things happening in the world right now. I can’t let that rob me of my time now, though, if I can help it. And right now I can help it.
So each time I catch myself pondering about canceling, I will adjust my thinking. When I feel myself starting to slip into acceptance of writing off 2020, I will listen for the still-not-grown voices of my children and realize that we are here now, together.
I will not use these understandings as a way to stretch myself too thin. I will not slip into robotic inauthenticity mechanically delivering experiences to my children to check off a box. Rather, I will allow them to ground me in the reality that 2020 is not cancelled. My family is right here and this time together is still precious.
I will sink into this truth over and over again until I am living in it. Life may look different. The world may be scary. 2020 is not cancelled, though. When I find myself thinking it might be, I will look at the trees, the baby birds living on our porch, and my children and remember how very real they are, right here in front of me. I will be grateful to be here in 2020, no matter how different the world looks.
2020 is not cancelled. It’s different. It’s wild. We don’t know what is going to happen, but life is happening.