This time last year I was ramping up to head to Mexico for my mom’s 60th birthday. Being one of four kids, trying to get us all in the same place at once is always a feat. We started planning this trip almost a full year in advance and were all so excited to celebrate our mom. But as we ramped up in anticipation, COVID was beginning to do the same across the United States.
After looking at all the factors, and knowing we could isolate at the house we rented, we went ahead with our plans. Who knew in a little over a week how much would change and how high our anxiety would rise. Minus the stress from the daily news, we had a blast and made it home just before air travel restrictions from Mexico were implemented. The country we returned to had changed immensely.
We all planned to self-quarantine upon our return but that wasn’t even necessary for my little family pod since the San Antonio shelter in place order was implemented only a few days later.
We missed seeing our friends and going about our typically busy schedule, but I’m not going to lie, the beginning of quarantine was fun. We went on many socially distant family walks, hung out in the backyard more than ever before (yes, we invested in an inflatable pool like the rest of America), and cooked…A LOT. We also found out that it’s not impossible to keep an active toddler busy while confined to a 1,000 square foot space. Anyone else potty train a 20 month old while in quarantine?
Well, here we are a year later. Under our belts we now have one fully potty-trained two-year-old, one move (yes, we sold our house and bought a new one because #covidbaby), one infant, one job change and SO many pivots. It seemed like every few days there were changes to our sense of normal. There are definitely things I wish could go back to pre-COVID days, but many others I hope stay around forever. We honestly made some incredible memories as a family of three, an exciting and intimate Easter celebration, a “Choo Choo Two Two” birthday party that turned into a masked drive-by celebration, Thanksgiving and Christmas with just our little pod of three, and so much FaceTiming with distant family our wrists are still recovering.
There are also changes that I want to implement forever. I’ve learned that mealtimes are sacred. With dad working from home, we’ve gotten so used to eating three meals a day together (which, I’ll admit, was initially exhausting) that now when we don’t get that time we miss each other and the whole day seems off. I want family meal time to always be our thing.
Spending time outside is essential. At first it was daily walks, then we added evening splash hours with the inflatable pool and now it’s just a daily routine to spend time outside. Whether it’s a distanced happy hour with friends or just family time in the sunshine, we appreciate any chance we get to be outdoors.
I’ve also realized that not only is it okay to slow down, it’s important. Before the pandemic our schedules were packed. Between work, mommy & me exercise class, music class, swim lessons, missional community group, church, and time spent with friends, we filled nearly every day to the brim. In part, we miss that busy schedule but we’ve also learned to embrace the simplicity of pandemic life. Being together for the small stuff means big family time rewards.
And perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that friends can become family. Our closest relatives live four and a half hours away, so when it came time to expand our circle, family wasn’t our first go-to. We have friends that took our son so I could go to a doctor’s appointment while I was pregnant and others that stored our packed boxes and art while we were between houses. We’ve been surrounded by incredible people and we’re immensely grateful for our “framily.”
After a whirlwind of a year, traveling to Mexico for the trip of a lifetime and now, a year later, sitting at home embracing my newborn, I can easily say it’s okay if some things are never the same. I look back on the moments of fear, the times of frustration, and the days everything went awry and realize those were just drops in the bucket compared to the numerous blessings we experienced. So, on this Covidversary, I choose to focus on the precious moments that made this year memorable and look to the future with a hopeful heart.