My Top Fails in 2020

The start of a new year brings a breath of fresh air and rejuvenated feelings for what we can accomplish in the coming months. It’s no secret that most of the world has been looking forward to this year, and no matter what the early months bring, it cannot exceed the hardships we all faced in 2020.

As moms, we tend to take the initiative to set goals for ourselves, our kids, our home, and our family as a whole. Often, those goals resemble a more orderly house, less screen time for all inhabitants, more sleep for all, and perhaps even a few moments of peace for the leaders of the household. With the prior year finding us at home with an ever stacking “to-do” list, we were more aware of time spent and tasks accomplished. Although the self-contained household could rear its ugly head on any given day, we were also granted space to breathe and prioritize.

When the New Year arrived, we as a family took some time to read through the highs and lows of our days from 2020, thanks to little notes we kept along the way. A million laughs and “I forgot about that!” comments later, I came across some amazing fails from the year. Looking back to March of 2020 to now, I can safely say we learned many lessons about patience, togetherness, and just how important it is to always press that mute button on a Zoom call.

The Driveway Haircut

Need I say more? If you are that Mama that possesses the amazing skill of cutting your children’s hair in a way that does not resemble a bowl or a hack job, then hats off to you. However, most of us who are not hair stylists by trade like to think we did our kiddos justice, when really all we did was give them ammunition to ask “but why?” in the future (comeback: Because it was 2020 dear, that’s why).  My husband and I attempted one, I repeat one, driveway haircut before calling it what it was: an all-out disaster. Lucky for us as a whole, stylists and barbers didn’t miss a beat when the pandemic hit and come up with the most creative and safe ways to trim kiddos’ hair that left their heads happy and our hearts thankful. We could have dragged this failure out in the most dangerous way by repeating the horrendous version of the driveway haircuts, but chose to wave the white flag at the right time: leaving the driveway cuts and scissor holding to the professionals.

Pressing Mute

Are you cringing yet? Do you hear the words of the teacher, asking little Johnny to mute, over and over in your mind? Have you permanently attached a label with the word MUTE to your laptop? If so, then you are in good company with me, dear mamas. As if the start of virtual learning wasn’t bumpy enough, we had to constantly make sure our sweet little darlings pressed that microphone button in just the right manner so our wonderful teachers didn’t have a front row to the inner happenings of the household. For those of us that have more than one school-aged kiddo, bouncing from class to class was basically the make-up of my day, with exchanges such as “Did you wash your hands? Is the camera off? Can they see me? Are you muted?” Lucky for us, the teachers had nothing but a sense of humor and the grace of all the Saints above when a sibling hung out in the background or the time I decided to rearrange my kitchen, but dropped all the pot lids and baking sheets while doing so. Please mute. I regret my attitude of indifference when it came to all things technology and failed to jump on board right away to learn all the ins and outs of the digital learning platforms. As for the ease of the mute button? We got an “A” for effort.


That Pinterest-Worthy Cake

Easter was the first holiday that fell victim to the early days of the COVID lockdown. This stands as one of my favorite holidays to host and prepare, and the engagement of my kiddos leading to Easter Sunday is strong. There was no way we wouldn’t celebrate, even if that meant sitting in the driveway with family, six feet apart, while waving at the Easter Bunny who passed by on a firetruck (all completely normal, right?!) To me, this was as good a time as any to tackle that baking challenge that I have eyed for years. Enter: The Lamb Cake. Now I know we have all seen and probably laughed too loudly at the picturesque fails of this dessert, but I am here to bring the reality of this endeavor to light. Those pictures are sadly the most accurate depiction of a good cake gone bad. With every recipe, I make notes and changes from one year to the next, making sure I annotate fully for maximum understanding. For this particular fail of 2020, my lamb cake recipe card now reads:

If you are not careful, the candy-coated eyeballs will slowly make their way down the shredded coconut body of that lopsided sweet baby animal. If you happen to look at the smooth chocolate the wrong way, it will ever so cleverly melt in such a way that looks like a volcano erupted rather than the soft woolen look we are striving to achieve. If there happens to be a melting situation, the fridge is not the answer! Cooling it will only harden the disheveled shape even more. Don’t think about turning on the oven light unless you really do want a death sentence for your post dinner treat. Resist the temptation to crack the oven door just a pinch for a sneak peek; the cake will sense your weakness and completely dissolve one of the lamb’s legs, just for spite. It is in everyone’s best interest that you do not spend an extended period of time staring at the battered mold you are so hoping will resemble Easter Sunday’s finest. Call the bakery for your Easter Sunday dessert and plate it yourself before calling Mom to tell her she was right. Again.


Thinking it Would All Be Over by Christmas

I am confident that I am not flying solo here with this way of thinking. “Extended Spring Break” turned into virtual learning for a few weeks, which then brought us to mid-May, which is basically summer. Summer came and went with protocols in place but many uncertainties present. Surely, we all thought, normalcy would resume with the start of a new school year and the worst would be put behind us by the time we would be singing Christmas carols.

However, the failure in that line of thinking came about as false hope instead of patience. I pretty much assured myself that travel for the fall and winter holidays would be fine, pushing the reality that the Northern states were not open in the same way Texas was and focusing solely on my departure date. My lack of patience had my suitcases packed and presents wrapped, all the while people in my extended circles were becoming more worried about the state of it all.

Looking back, I would tell my late fall self to breathe and trust those who are in more control than yours truly. Let the scientists and researchers do their jobs. Do more than the normal standards of gift-giving when spoiling the teachers in my life and the frontline workers around me. Challenge myself to listen for the needs of others and support more local businesses, all the while breathing through one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced.

Throughout each challenge and obstacle, I find comfort in knowing there is a ray of light for every bout of darkness. While my fails may have been plenty, the hugs and long pauses at home served as a constant. And ones that I will take over crooked hairlines and messy cakes any day.

I’m a native Pittsburgher through and through, but transplanted to Texas with my superhero cape to teach elementary school. I am a proud Mama to a spirited girl (2011) and a laid back boy (2014) who keep my days full of laughter, Legos, books, and more stuffed animals than should be allowed. As a stay-at-home Mama, I am constantly yearning for new ways to engage their minds, hands, and bodies with the city and community around them, while stealing a run and a cup of coffee or two. I can be found at the local library for storytime; the park for an afternoon swing; either of their schools to lend a helping hand; and/or the local splash pad to escape the heat. I’m not hard to miss due to the donning of Steelers gear in the fall and Penguins attire in the spring. I welcome and thrive on new conversations, friendships, and methods of rearing little humans. Favorite Restaurant: Paloma Blanca Favorite Landmark: Any of the Missions around San Antonio Favorite San Antonio Tradition: It's a tie between The Texas Cavaliers River Parade and The Battle of Flowers Parade, both occurring during Fiesta. Viva!