Written by: T.M. Brunson
For generations to come, people are going to remember the year 2020 as being one of the most challenging years in their lives. I know that it has been life-changing for me, so I can only imagine how it has been for others.
I just knew at the end of 2019, 2020 was going to be a better year. I prayed for it. And, I really thought that the year started off with a bang!
I was excited to think of how much my life would change for the better because 2019 was a challenging year. I was looking forward to a fresh start.
DEATH SURROUNDS US
Then, basketball legend, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, both tragically died in a helicopter crash at the top of the year in the same mountains that I used to drive through in southern California. Then in February, actor Kirk Douglas passed away at 103 years old; and little Nikita Pearl Waligwa ("Queen of Katwe") died of a brain tumor in February.
OK, I thought. Maybe the worst was over. I celebrated another year around the sun on February 7. A few of my friends and family gathered to celebrate with me. That same weekend, my girls had a cheer competition on the same day that my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother about to turn 88.
I took the girls up to see my grandmother the next day—not knowing it would be the last time we would ever see her.
A couple of weeks later, at the beginning of March, I fell sick. There were whispers of a virus that was coming and the nurses and doctor came into my room at urgent care with gloves and masks on, thinking that I might have it. I had never seen anything like it. And I had no idea that that would become the normal look of 2020.
Turns out, I had strep throat.
The Coronavirus, the looming virus, was getting worse all over the world. March 11, 2020 was the day we were told to go home from work and not to return for a long time. Kids, all over the country, were sent home from school to do remote learning.
Then two weeks later, on March 26, 2020, my world came to a screeching halt when my grandmother, the matriarch of my dad's side of the family, died from complications of COVID-19. Her five children were heartbroken. Her grandkids rattled. Her great-grandkids, sad. She always told me not to cry when she died because she lived a good life; and if I did, she would come back to haunt me. (Sorry I cried, Grandma. I just couldn't help it!)
SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL
The world, as I knew it, seemed to turn upside down. Countries were in lockdown mode. So many of my family and friends lost their jobs. Others were on the frontlines, dealing with this virus, head on, in hospitals. I was fortunate enough to be essential at my job and was able to work, consistently, throughout most of the summer.
It was challenging dealing with personal issues at home, working full-time, doing schoolwork with five kids, a toddler running around, cooking, cleaning, kids eating me out of house-at-home, trying to keep them entertained beyond school, and finding time to rest.
New Jersey was on full lockdown. We could go to the doctor and grocery shopping (and make the occasional liquor run). For the first time in my life, I felt all the feels of not having basic necessities like toilet paper, Lysol/Clorox wipes, paper towels, baby wipes, masks...
Being cooped up was challenging; but it was keeping us safe.
As a mom, though, I felt like I was failing—missing Zoom classes for this daughter or that daughter; important meetings with the teachers... Then other teachers would text me all hours of the day, in between meetings, during meetings after meetings... It all became very frustrating.
I was trying to keep up with my own work meetings and I felt like the world was spinning. I knew that I needed to get a handle on everything. I needed a complete reset.
So I went to my office and asked someone from Facilities to help me take down my big white board and put it in my car. I needed to write everything that I needed to do for work down, and have it in my face, in front of me, so that I could prioritize.
My MAC laptop finally arrived and I was able to get VPN access to my work drives to make things easier. I started getting up at 5:30am to go walking around 6am. I started off with a half hour and advanced to an hour every day.
Those walks...that alone time...it helped me to clear my head and focus on the day ahead. Some days I walked alone. Others, I walked with a friend or two. It gave me a chance to meditate. It afforded me time to pray..to clear my head and think about what I wanted to do with this gift of time.
I became crafty with thinking of ways to keep my girls entertained—long walks, bicycle rides, playing in the rain, movie nights, game days, and etc.
Then on May 25, 2020, everything changed.
The death of George Floyd rocked the entire world. And, I don't know what it was about his death that resonated with so many people because there were SO many other deaths before him. But the Black Lives Matter movement was in full force around the world. White people were having uncomfortable conversations that people of color have been having for years.
These are just a few of the names of the people of color who have been tragically murdered.
I got texts. Phone calls. Meetings at work. Social media posts. Protests. Riots. Anger. Peace. All of it hitting an all time high during a year that has seen so much death already with people dying from the virus, dying because of police brutality, and dying at the hands of other people.
And it's unfathomable to me that some people just don't get it. They don't see it. People who were friends or close acquaintances. People who have written me recommendations on LinkedIn (yeah, I see you).
There is just so much to deal with. So much to ingest. I don't even want to watch the news anymore because I internalize everything that is happening and it weighs heavy on my heart. However, I still need to stay well-informed.
A NEW PURPOSE
Eventually, I turned my focus back to my morning therapy and I hit a milestone on the track.
After 45 years, I ran a very slow jog for one whole mile.
If you knew me, you would know that that was a lot for me because I've always had bad knees. Two weeks later, I was jogging a consistent two miles.
Then I got on a scale. After a month and a half of working out and altering my eating habits, I hadn't lost one pound; but my clothes were a little looser. Baby steps, I had to remind myself.
I've always wanted to work from home—granted, not with six kids running around at home—but, I needed to make the most of this time with them because it's time I would have never gotten without this virus.
So, yes, I was waking up early every day to get some "me" time in; but I was also spending breakfast, lunch, and dinner with my girls—something I didn't get to do, normally, during the week. I was able to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine or dryer in between meetings so that I wasn't inundated with laundry after work or on the weekends, like I would normally be.
I was able to be rested and focused so that I could answer emails before 7am and after the girls went to bed at 8pm because it would ease up the pressure on what I had to do the following day—especially if I had a day full of meetings or virtual events.
During this time, I was able to read more books. I haven't finished writing the romance novel that I've been writing for the past couple of years; but, I was asked to write a children's book which is now in the illustration stage. What a sense of accomplishment I felt when I was told that a room full of people loved it!
I was able to proofread a movie script for a friend, say "thank you" to the teachers who went above and beyond helping my girls through these challenging times, and reconnect with old friends.
I began practicing my Spanish with two people in Spain so that when we are able to travel again, I can spend some time in Barcelona and speak fluently.
And even know we aren't on a true lockdown anymore, like southern California, it has been so challenging not to be able to hug my mother or my friends. I have so many friends who are dealing with living alone and not having any social interaction with people; or friends who have no left their houses since March; or friends who aren't dealing well with having to sit and be exposed to their own feelings for such a long period of time, alone; or friends who are pregnant or having babies in one of the most scariest times in our lives.
Even the simple luxuries of getting our hair done or nails done or getting a massage have been taking away from us; but it also brought us back to simpler times and reconditioned us to think differently. To learn to fend for ourselves and our third world problems.
If at any time you are feeling down about all that is going on in the world today—obstacles hitting you from every angle—just know that you have a village surrounding you.
All of the women who are a part of the All Mommy Issues village are here to empower, support, and embrace you—vulnerabilities and all.
If you feel uncomfortable and want to reach out to me one-on-one, shoot me a text, an email at email@example.com, or DM me @allmommyissues. I am available to lend a listening ear.
Question of the Day
How have you dealt with the challenges that have arisen since Quarantine 2020 began?
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