While it may not feel like we have a lot to be thankful for this year (except those rare occasions where you were able to find toilet paper AND paper towels AND boxed mac and cheese AND Clorox wipes, without going to 4 different stores), I am approaching this holiday with a whole different breed of gratefulness.
Yes, 2020 sucked. Like, so badly that 2020 should be the new F word.
(Steps on son’s legos, again): “Oh, 2020!”
(Zoey, the rescue labradoodle who eats things when she isn’t getting enough attention, just ate my $200 Tieks, a gift from my sister for my 31st because I would never spend $200 on myself on anything): “MOTHER2020, ZOEY!”
(Walking into my 10 year old daughter’s room to find every single piece of clothing she owns, which I’ve just washed and placed back in her bedroom for her to JUST put away, thrown across the floor): “FOR 2020’S SAKE, SOPHIA!”
There are so many things that have been weighing heavily on my mind, making me anxious, stressed, and feeling like I have no sense of control over anything (which, HELLO ALLY, is life). There is so little I have control over these days. I spent the first 7 months of this pandemic fighting this feeling–struggling to gain control over things that I have no control over (and never will).
I worry about the physical health of my family (who is more at risk than the average quarantining, mask-wearing, rule-following family because we are a blended family, and our big kids go back and forth between our house and their bio mom/dad’s houses). I worry about the mental health of my family (I mean, who isn’t concerned about mental health right now?) If I stop and think about the emotional and social repercussions the isolation has had on my kids, I want to scream. But isn’t that what every parent is thinking and feeling for the last 8 months?
Pre-2020, we were GO-GO-GO! Always visiting family, having sleep-overs or playdates, going out and about in the world DOING, DOING, DOING…and now, we’re not.
So…what do we do?
If I’m being honest with myself (which I mostly prefer not to be, I’d prefer to live in my own safe little bubble of denial where it’s warm and cozy, and the world isn’t full of anti-mask assholes who won’t wear a piece of cloth over their faces to save their neighbor or Great-Aunt Frieda) I know another lockdown is coming, soon. I’ve accepted it. I’ve had myself a few good cries under the steaming hot water of the shower (with the toddler splashing in the water under my feet, because that’s his new favorite thing these days. The second I open the shower door, that little pop of the shower door seal opening sends him running into the bathroom exclaiming, “Shower? Shower, mama? On?”) And I know this is going to be a long winter. And I’m going to spend a LOT of money at Michaels on yarn (crocheting has become my quarantine stress relief. If you’re interested in learning how, my friend Mary can attest that I am a decent crocheter and a mediocre teacher at best, but she is currently crocheting a blanket, so I taught her something).
So, here’s a thought.
What if instead of focusing on all the things we can’t do this winter, we shift our focus to all the things we can do?
Like, since you’re probably not going to be on the GO-GO-GO, what if you learned a new hobby? (again, mediocre teacher at best, but there are a ton of crochet for beginners tutorials on YouTube, which is how I learned how to crochet).
Or what if you rekindled your love for an old hobby that you haven’t had the time for? (I’ve recently rekindled my love for reading, and joined the Book of the Month club which is heaven for book nerds. I just finished The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, which is a movie that was supposed to debut in theaters last May, but was just purchased by Netflix that should be released in the next few months).
What if you tried some new recipes? (Like this super easy and DELICIOUS Stuffed Pepper soup my girl, Jill–also a mom of 4 who has just as little time and patience as I do for complicated, 17-step recipes–told me about: https://pin.it/1zUNBXN).
Or, the most 2020 past-time of all, you can binge on a new Hulu or Netflix series (I highly recommend Evil on Netflix, Run on Hulu, and will be watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix next. If you’re in the mood for a mindless comedy that provides endless chuckles, Parks and Rec on Netflix and Bob’s Burgers on Hulu are my go-to comic relief series).
Conclusion: I’m trying to shift my mindset
Last spring, I was very much consumed with all the can’ts and shouldn’ts and not alloweds. This winter, I’m trying to shift my focus to all the opportunities I have to do more. Instead of dwelling on not being able to go to the Sly Fox and have a beer and cheeseburger pizza, I’m going to try to make cheeseburger pizza (with cauliflower crust, and 95% lean ground beef, and ALL the veggies, because WEIGHT WATCHERS, FOR REAL) at home.
Instead of groaning about not being able to go to Michaels to browse the yarn aisles (my absolute favorite past-time, with a Buck-Bucks Peppermint mocha latte in hand), I’ll dig up the yarn I do have (hi, my name is Ally, and I’m a yarn hoarder) or do a contactless curbside pick-up.
And maybe it’s a good time to Home Edit the shit out of my basement (because oh my God, how many bins of stuffed animals and legos can four children have?)
Okay, the actual conclusion: let’s just try to make this not suck
It does suck. It sucks so hard. But people, this is the situation we’re in. And fighting it only hurts more (for me, at least). So instead of fighting it, I’m embracing it. I’m hugging the shit out of this sucky situation–a full bear hug. And I’m making the best of it. Am I still going to cry in the shower some days? Oh yeah. Am I going to go off the WW wagon and have a 35 point Royal Cheesecake blizzard for dinner some nights? Oh, you betcha (last night–zero regrets). I am pointedly going to craft/binge watch/bake/optimize the shit out of this winter.
Are you with me?
PS-This picture of my effed up, dog-chewed Tieks kind of perfectly represents 2020 thus far for me.