It's no secret to anyone that 2020 has not been the banner year that everyone thought it would be. One year ago, people were looking forward to this year with all kinds of grandiose expectations. It was a new decade, a time to stretch and grow, an opportunity to take on new challenges and try new things. The funny thing is - that's exactly what it ended up being...for us all, just not on our terms. We were faced with challenges that we never saw coming. We were forced to try new things that were not at all in our plans. We were stretched to the max, and growth inevitably came from that.
|Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash|
In January 2020, we started talking about moving all the kids to the same private school. My freelance work was flourishing, and if we cut corners elsewhere, it looked like we could just manage the cost of that change. Having them all at one school would mean less driving for me, a simplified schedule, and the opportunity to get them all into the same routine. It seemed like the perfect plan, and so we began the process of applying and waiting to see if there were spots available in their respective classes. One week before the country began shutting down, just days before the kids came home from school for spring break...and stayed home, I received a phone call informing me that a spot had opened up for our final child, which meant all five were in. We were set. I paid the fees, keeping a wary eye on the storm clouds, and trusted that if this is where God wanted the kids, He would continue to open doors. Meanwhile, in the back of my mind, something was nagging me.
By the end of spring break, the official ruling was that the kids were to stay home through the first of April. My gut told me, even while the schools insisted that it was temporary, they were home to stay. You know the rest of the story. School went online, parents scrambled to figure out how to turn empty corners into classrooms, and toilet paper suddenly vanished from the shelves. By the time April 1st rolled around, I could see the writing on the wall as my freelance contracts dried up, and that persistent nagging in my head got louder. When I officially lost my biggest client (the one that would pay for the kid's schooling) in mid-April, it didn't take long to see that the choice to homeschool had just been made for me. It was the very idea that I'd been fighting for the four years since our adoption...and now it was my only option.
Stretched to the max moments like that often turn into defining moments. The monuments in life that you look back on and say, "Wow...that changed everything." Instead of being in a position where I was comfortable in my field and confident in my knowledge, I was treading water in the deep end of the pool. Not only did I need to figure out legal requirements, I needed to come up with a curriculum and lesson plans, an online option for our high school sophomore, and wrap my head around the idea of being a full-time teacher, when I'd hated every education class I took in college. Not only was I, as an introvert, adjusting to having five kids at home with me all day long, but I was also responsible for making sure they could read, write, and pass 6th grade math. These things were not in my plans last January, but then neither was owning a Christmas-themed face mask.
There are 16 days left in this year, and I know people are counting down because they're sick of this year and all the changes it's required. But you know what? Every new year we all talk about the changes we want to make, how we want to try something new, get out of our ruts, or slow down and enjoy the simpler things of life. We may have hated this year, but 2020 forced us to do ALL of those things, and more. Our family dynamics totally changed as we spent more time together. Of course there were growing pains, and yes, we got sick of one another, but we also learned more about what makes each one of us tick. We discovered new ways to spend our days. We enjoyed slower mornings, longer lunches, later bedtimes, and spontaneous family movie nights. Instead of always rushing to be at the next event or school function, we read longer and played more. We made do with what we had (like Gorilla gluing the leaks in our existing pool when there was no replacement to be found), paid closer attention to how many paper towels and how much toilet paper we used, and realized the importance of community. Rather than 2020 taking something from us, we discovered it became our year of more.
More time together.
More focus on what really mattered.
More appreciation for the things we took for granted before.
2021 might be better, it may be worse, or it could be a continuation of the year we've just had. But no matter what, it's probably time to change the mindset of "when will it end" and start giving thanks for all the opportunities for growth that have come about because of it. As for me? Well, I just ordered all the books for my kids to move ahead to their next grade levels, because we can, and I'm anticipating 2021 being another year of MORE. More challenges. More growth. More love. More memories. More new experiences. More opportunities to be stretched to the max, and discover how much more there is for us to learn.