Reflections on the Longest (and also shortest) 12 Months

Highlights from March 2020 through March 2021:

Thea learned to read. Like, full-blown. The first book she ever read entirely on her own in November 2020 was the modern-classic, “Almost Everybody Farts”. 

Finn regularly called soap “blub blub”, sleeping “pleepling”, Rapunzel “Punzle”, sledding “bledding” and snow “no”. His pronunciation improved over the year, but we are bound and determined that this household will forever refer to hand sanitizer as “hannatizer”.

We picked up a habit over the winter of visiting a new bakery every weekend and buying whatever looks tasty. We have yet to be disappointed.

Finn started muttering, “Fuuuuuuuck” under his breath when he hurts himself. Like mother, like son, I guess?

During Thea’s one-week of online learning in 2021, I overheard this interaction between another kid and the teacher:
   “Yes, ____, you have a question?”
   “…Ohhhhkayyy, good for him. Does anyone have any questions about the activity?”
Why did this make me laugh so hard, and why did I write it down? Your guess is as good as mine, but regardless – Teachers have more patience in their pinkies than I do in my whole body and I applaud them for it.  

Cineplex started delivery service for popcorn (yes, this news is highlight-reel worthy).

We had this exact conversation innumerable times:
   Finn: Can I drive?
   Luke or I: When you are older.
   Finn: Can I go to Grade 1?
   Us: When you are older.
   Finn: …Can I be older?

Thea provided this insight into her expectations of me while we listened to the Tangled soundtrack:
   “At least you aren’t like Rapunzel’s fake mommy!” 
   “That’s a low bar to set, but I’ll take it, I suppose.” 
   “Ya, you don’t lock me in a tower.” 
   “…You’re welcome?”

Family roles were clarified:
   Me: Do you have a brother or a sister?
   Finn, *looks at Thea*: No.
   Thea: I’m a sister!
   Finn: I’m a Finn!

Luke and I played online games like Among Us pretty regularly, and continue to be invited to these virtual events, despite Luke’s persistent efforts and utter joy in having the host voted out as early as possible every single game.

Luke has been reading The Hobbit to Thea and – now that she’s confirmed that goblins aren’t real – she loves it! 

…In all seriousness, this has undoubtedly been one of the hardest years in my memory. For 5 months over the spring/summer last year, the kids were home full-time, and that was not easy to navigate while also maintaining full-time working hours. I’ve always been vocal about the fact I am not stay-at-home-mum material. Add in significant limits on options for activities either because things were shut down or we elected not to go to crowded areas, and it got pretty suffocating at times. I missed personal goals and deadlines, my overall mental health suffered, and I’m lucky I had/have Luke to lean on when needed.

For Luke’s part, he has never in his life been this physically distanced from his entire family, and it eats at him daily. The kids are doing well overall, but I do think our weariness has impacted some areas of Finn’s development as we certainly have spent less focused time on his learning than when Thea was his age (who’s to say how much of that is pandemic-induced versus ordinary second-child-problems). Thea is a rainbow starburst of magic, but my heart aches when I see her effectively “reading the room” and going out of her way to appease her brother or try to make us smile, because that should never be on her to do.

All that said, Luke and I had stable income for the past 12 months, we’ve been able to work from home the whole time, we have a big yard that is never shut down, our family has been healthy (even more so than usual, thanks to a moratorium on runny noses at school/daycare), and the handful of people I do know who have had COVID-19 have recovered well.  This is more than many families can say, and I am grateful for it. 

It’s been rough. Hindsight being what it is, are there things I would like to have done differently over the last 12 months? Absolutely. But, just to be clear, none of those things involve being more careless with mine or anyone else’s health. I have not and am not “living in fear” of a virus; I fully recognize the risk to myself and those in my household is next to nothing. But I love my grandparents deeply, and if my social distancing and mask-wearing made it a little bit safer out there for someone else’s grandparents, that’s good enough for me.

While I chose to mostly showcase little bits of silly in this post, there were also some genuine highlights, like a spin-art family painting project now on permanent display in our basement, a Halloween scavenger hunt, a promotion for Luke and a huge work project seen start-to-finish for me, day trips to explore areas of Alberta I’d never seen, and a video call to celebrate my Grandpa’s 85th birthday that nearly everyone in my extended family was able to join. Most recently, we’ve been breaking up the week with outdoor fun like kite-flying, playgrounds, and pizza delivery to our backyard.

We have been keeping a jar of sticky notes in the living room listing all the things we are looking forward to doing again. Some are big (trips to NS and SK), some are small (no-mask hugs with grandparents). We are excited for all of these things and know they will come in good time. In the meantime, we will continue to be patient, happy to see Great Grandparents being vaccinated, and taking advantage of every good-weather day we are given.

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