MOMMY CHRONICLES: 2020: Cops, tollbooths, tears & hope
By Stacy Turner
I don’t know about you, but I’m so over 2020. This trying year has tested the resolve of even the most positive among us. I’m definitely more than ready to move forward into the new year, and I don’t seem to be alone in that sentiment. The voice of logic says that on January 1, we’ll still be dealing with the same issues we had in 2020, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. With the clean slate of 2021 stretching out ahead of us, it feels like we’re on the road to better times. Let me explain what I mean.
When my girls were small, one under a year old and the other around three, I took them on a solo road trip to Columbus to visit my ailing father-in-law. Due to his work schedule, my husband couldn’t join us. And we couldn’t leave behind the dog, our protector and self-appointed nanny. I planned to leave in the early afternoon so the kids would nap most of the nearly three-hour trip. But wrangling two-under-threes into car seats, along with all the gear we’d need for several nights away, had all of us feeling crabby and frazzled. I just kept telling myself that once I made the 20-minute drive to the turnpike, it would be better. The wide-open road would lull the girls to sleep, the drive would be peaceful, and their doting grandparents would be thrilled to see us. But with the sounds of the Wiggles reverberating at top volume to soothe the youngest, and just minutes from the tollbooth, I was stopped for speeding.
When my oldest saw the flashing lights of the police car, she started wailing, certain that mommy was going to jail. Her anguish made the youngest cry even louder, which set the dog to barking in an effort to protect us from the presumed "villain" in dark sunglasses approaching my window. When I rolled it down, I could almost visualize the chaos oozing from my vehicle. I could tell the young officer wanted absolutely no part of our hot mess. After pausing a few seconds to fully take it in, he gave me a warning and shakily waved me on, past his jurisdiction, telling me to drive safely and to have a good day (somewhere else was implied). I counted my blessings for not getting a ticket, got my crazy train to the turnpike, and within minutes, my three passengers were napping contentedly, the stereo blissfully silent. I just needed to make it through the worst of the chaos, and then the rest of the trip was uneventful and calm. And when I finally reached my destination and shared the story, we laughed until tears streamed down our faces.
This, my friends, is what 2020 has felt like to me. We all started out the year with the best of intentions. We each loaded up what we thought we’d need for the long haul, and in spite of the chaos and tears, we stayed the course. Now, we can see the end off in the distance like the shiny tollbooth, signifying a return to peace and time of hope. We’ve had some rough times this year, for sure but we’re almost there. And when we finally arrive, we’ll have quite a story to share.
The fresh new year brings the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we’ll go next. I know I’m not alone in hoping that next year will be better than the last. But in the midst of a challenging year, hope and faith have helped us see the good in the midst of the not-so-good. We have had more time to spend with our families, as outside activities, concerts, and schooling have been canceled or altered. Some of us have had time to try new hobbies, and many have spent more time outside enjoying nature than ever before. Lots of folks have learned how to better use technology, not just for work and school, but to keep in touch with far away family and friends. And we’ve all learned resiliency as we adapt our plans and traditions based on recommendations and mandates from the "experts." As the year has progressed, we’ve all come up with different ways to do things, and have cast off what no longer serves us. Those valuable lessons will be helpful, no matter what 2021 brings.
So as we celebrate the end of a seemingly endless year, we get the opportunity to begin a fresh new one. And in this shiny new year, hold your loved ones close, count your blessings and embrace hope. And don’t forget to laugh.