The “Accomplishments” of 2020
Though it has been a while, I remember the days of having a newborn. Every minute of every day is spent doing something. Yet, at the end of the day, it felt like nothing got done. At the same time, if the baby was fed and slept, it was an accomplishment.
2020 has felt the same way. A lot of moving through the daily grind and feeling like nothing got done… a feeling I would have rather left behind when my babies got older.
I always do some kind of reflection on the year, so I’m trying very hard to think of what actually got done in 2020.
- I took up watercolor painting… and then didn’t have time anymore when we went into lockdown in March. I was making good progress and learning some skills, so I need to figure out how to incorporate this into my day again.
- I managed my anxiety through ancestry research. What started as trying to verify a comment that one of my grandmother’s aunts was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution turned into a massive family tree-building effort. I knew very little about my family’s roots before starting the project, so this was a good distraction during the early days of Covid lockdown.
- My kids managed to maintain good grades. Remote learning is hard. Kids are not designed to sit and stare at a computer screen for hours at a time. It has been a constant struggle of “good enough” and feeling like I should be supporting them more. Yet, when first quarter grades were released, I breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t really care if they learn anything — but if they were meeting the basic expectations of their teachers, I called that a win.
- I became a permanent member of the #5amwritersclub. Most days, I wake up even earlier. I drink my coffee, journal, and can do other writing in peace. No one else in the house usually stirs until closer to 7:00 a.m. It is glorious.
- We have stayed safe and healthy. We are in the camp of people that do not gather with anyone outside of our household without masks or outdoors/distance. We only go into stores if absolutely necessary and have as much delivered as possible. It’s hard. We miss people. But luckily, as a family we mostly get along and don’t drive each other crazy. My parents and siblings live in different states, so we didn’t see them in person much pre-pandemic. Yet, we hopped on the Zoom craze and had Zoom gatherings for birthdays and other occasions. So in that sense, it brought us a new connection. I guess as an accomplishment, this falls into the category of “we can do hard things.”
I’ve gained a new indoor exercise bike, an appreciation for strongly scented candles, and a new nephew. My sweatpants collection has grown. I’ve written more words than I have in any prior year — by a lot.
I lost a lot this year also. My grandmother passed away in December, at 100 years old. I have let my memberships to the Art Institute of Chicago, Field Museum, and zoo lapse — and also know that these organizations are hurting as a result. I haven’t had any routine appointments for health care, and my teeth feel gross from lack of professional cleaning. My hair is permanently damaged from lack of haircuts.
2020 has been the year of “accepting things I cannot change.” I cannot change the behavior of other people. I can control my family’s own level of risk and try to keep us safe. I can do my best to keep us from going insane within the four walls of this house. I am trying to accept that even my best isn’t enough some days, and this is an unprecedented, impossible situation in which I need to grant myself some grace.
But I have a lot of hope for 2021 and the availability of a vaccine. Things won’t go back to “normal” but there will be a new version of “new normal.”
It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last. — The Counting Crows