SUBSCRIBE NOW

The Mom Stop column: Pandemic year taught appreciation for home, family

Lydia Seabol Avant
More Content Now
Sturgis Journal

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

*****

Most people are wishing 2020 good riddance, and for good reason.

More than 318,000 Americans are dead because of COVID-19, and thousands of families have been left behind to mourn their losses.

Thousands of businesses have closed, millions of jobs lost — it is estimated that by June 2020, as many as 7.7 million workers had lost their jobs, including their employer-sponsored health insurance. People have lost homes, or are nearing it, while schools across the nation shuttered.

Kids learned to “go to school” virtually, while parents had to suddenly become home-school teachers. And while many schools, including the ones my kids go to, eventually reopened this fall, it hasn’t been the same as before — because it can’t be.

But with a COVID-19 vaccine becoming available, 2021 holds a promise. It’s a glimmer of hope that better times are ahead, even if we can’t return to the “pre-pandemic” normalcy that we all so very much crave.

And for that, I’m praying that 2021 will be a better year. I pray that people will get vaccinated and look forward to the time when I’m eligible to get one myself. I pray that the pandemic will subsides, so my family can finally go out to dinner again, or that I can send my kids out to play in the neighborhood without worrying about whether they are social distancing or whether the other kids’ families are being safe.

I am praying that, at some point in 2021, my kids will be able to see their grandparents and great-grandparents without facemasks and without wondering whether they might be carrying a deadly virus. I am praying that we might be able to travel again.

In 2021, I want to have friends over and socialize. I want to hug loved ones outside of our own home.

As we reflect on 2020 and all the terrible losses that came with it, I think it’s worth reflecting on some of the positives that came with it. Because almost always with the bad, there comes some good.

For the last nine months, my children have not had a babysitter or daycare — because one or both of their parents have been home. Because my husband and I both work full- time, I never imagined I’d be home with my children, let alone be home-schooling them for a time.

Now that school has been back in session face-to-face in recent months, working from home has meant I’ve been able to pick my youngest child up from kindergarten every day. I’ve also been home as my older kids get off the school bus. For that, I am thankful.

Before the pandemic, we were swimming neck-deep in kids’ activities and even had to keep a color-coded calendar app that kept track of which practices or lessons our kids had each day, at what times, and who was driving them there or picking them up. We had little downtime, because we were shuffling our kids to ballet or play practice, soccer or scouts. But 2020 changed that. As exhausted and stressed as we were, the pandemic forced us to stop it all. And while we know our kids have missed some things, the rushing around between commitments and eating fast-food dinners in the car between activities is not one of them.

Before March 2020, we ate out a lot. Partially because it’s the way I was raised and because I really don’t like cooking all that much. But being home in 2020 has forced us to cook from home more. Yes, we still get takeout from some of our favorite places. But the kitchen in our new home has become a gathering place and I’ve learned that cooking can be enjoyable. My kids have learned to eat new foods, learning to help cook in the process, and we’ve realized how much money we save by eating more at home.

I’d like to think I’ve always cherished family — our parents, my last surviving grandmother, our siblings and nephews and nieces. But when you aren’t able to see each other for months or even the entire year because of COVID, it brings new light to how important family really is. This year has brought to light even more how we should cherish our families. Because so many families out there have lost their loved ones to COVID.

And so, good riddance, 2020. I appreciate the lessons learned, many of them will likely last a lifetime. But here’s to 2021, and hopefully better times ahead.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at momstopcolumn@gmail.com.