We made it.
2021, we are here. Let’s all pat ourselves on the back for this major accomplishment. You may not have mastered tons of things this year, but you survived, even if barely. You survived. But, let’s not soon forget everything that the year 2020 allowed us to see, physically, emotionally, and figuratively.
To sum it up, I think “take the picture, remember the moments, for they may never come again” accounts for most of the year. I took as many snapshots, in my mind and on my phone, as I could. I knew I needed to remember this year. I needed to document the struggles, the literal chaos, the love of friends and family, the heartbreak, the tears, the concern for those most vulnerable to the pandemic’s course, especially my parents. And most of all, the pure generosity of others.
I distinctly remember picking up my twin daughters from preschool on March 12, 2020. “Don’t forget, next week is spring break! We will see you the week after!” shouted the teachers as we all waved goodbye and clumsily climbed into the car, buckled everyone up, and headed home.
Little did we know that goodbye was the beginning of something that none of us had ever experienced.
Life took a complete turn into a world of confusion, fear, sadness, and loneliness. Not to mention, a house filled with three whiny toddlers, a husband working from home (for a few weeks, we thought), and a mother trying to hold it all together for everyone.
Suddenly, masks became a “must” and, eventually, a fashion statement. Toilet paper, Clorox wipes, bleach, and inflatable outdoor pools were no longer available for purchase. So, of course, one of my twins decided this would be a perfect time to start potty training. The exact day our, and everyone else’s, new “normal” began.
Thankfully, Evelyn’s potty training adventure did not require many floor clean-ups. I cringed every time I pulled a Clorox wipe from the canister to clean the floor, hoping I’d be able to find another canister soon.
During these first few days of potty training, I took so many pictures to remember how proud I was of Evelyn.
Now, I look at those same pictures and see how proud I am of all of us.
My husband’s work-from-home “office” began in the playroom, right next to us, the tornado that is three toddlers and a mother surviving our family’s first quarantine on coffee and whatever else I could find to snack on.
Needless to say, that office space didn’t last long. While we, as adults, had a very trying time this year of learning and growth, so did our children. Our daughters slowly realized that daddy was home, but he had to work. He couldn’t play with them, he couldn’t help change diapers, make breakfast, lunch, or dinner. He couldn’t answer the millions of pressing questions three toddlers can and will ask in a day. He is the most involved father, and they were used to getting him, all of him, every minute he was home. This new “normal” wasn’t easy for any of them.
We still aren’t fully adjusted, but we have acclimated.
I look back at the pictures from the first stages of my husband working from home. I see him, overwhelmed, working through a multitude of issues, including the slowest internet ever, an unfathomable workload, and no in-person contact with his supervisors, managers, or coworkers. All while overhearing the chatter and tantrums his daughters and wife were throwing in the rooms around him.
While I complained about my life as a mother and how it had recently changed, I hadn’t looked around and realized how much this change also affected my husband. I hadn’t realized that when he heard our daughters’ giggles from the other room, he, too, wished he could be in there playing but instead had to work long hours to support us through this uncharted territory that was 2020. Since then, he has settled into the corner nook of the living room with his double monitors and work phone- close enough to hear our daughters’ laughter, but far enough to allow him to focus on his workload.
As the year went on, fellow moms joked and shared memes about adding the “quarantine pounds” on, as I really did. There’s something about a stressful situation, snack food, and a wild household that just seems to go so well together.
At this point, we’d made it through the majority of the year, what felt like a month-long election process, the ups and downs of relationships with friends and family (some lasted, some didn’t), and it was time to document in pictures the end of the year, as we have every year since our twins were born.
I remember crying as I scheduled and rescheduled our photos with my best friend, a fantastic photographer. I was embarrassed.
I didn’t want to document the weight I’d gained, the stress that had caused more wrinkles to appear on my face, or the tears that seemed to have made permanent pathways down my cheeks.
But, finally, I decided my husband and I needed this picture. This would be the one photo that captured the ending of 2020, the strangest year we have ever experienced. What I received from the photoshoot are some of my most cherished pictures.
As a family, we made it through 2020 together, laughing, crying, and holding each other together just as we did in these pictures.
Just when we thought 2021 was near enough to reach without any more tragedy, my husband lost a close childhood friend just days before Christmas.
Guess what we started to go through?
Pictures that had been taken throughout the years. Photos from childhood to adulthood, on disposable cameras and flip phones, of countless memories he shared with his friend’s gentle, yet wild, soul. Pictures that brought up great memories, daring adventurous stories that I’m glad I wasn’t around for, and even one special memory we all shared from a small bar in Pensacola where my husband and I first kissed, long before we were meant to be together forever. The pictures that captured his friend’s life will be what remains for his children to piece their memories together.
Each day, pictures are proving to be more important than ever.
Now that we have reached 2021, I see documenting everyday activities as a must. I suggest you take the pictures, remember the moments, the good and the bad. Take pictures when you’ve gained 25+ pounds because your children don’t care how much you weigh; they will only care that they have pictures with you in them. Take pictures, because we are living in a time that will be very hard to put into words for someone who didn’t experience it first hand.
Perhaps pictures will be the best way to describe each of our own 2020. I’m glad I captured photos of my parents’ quarantine porch visits with us and the empty aisles of Target while I anxiously searched for toilet paper, and Covid swabs. We documented our children’s’ well-visits at the pediatrician’s office, while smiling behind our masks. And of course, the screenshots of the hundreds of FaceTime calls with my best girlfriends, as we navigated our way through 2020.
One day, these pictures will be how we remember this difficult yet, character strengthening year.