Dear O, A, and L,
You 3 are all young enough that you probably won’t remember most (or any) of 2020. It was eventful, both good and bad, and I wanted to put some thoughts and memories here in hopes that we look back on it in the years and decades ahead.
For starters, of course, this was the year that our family was made complete. L was born in mid-March. 9 months later, none of us can really remember life before she was here. Your constant gummy smile, laid back manner, and your ability to (mostly) sleep through the night from just a few weeks old has meant more to us this year than you could ever know.
When we found out that your mom was pregnant, I was more nervous about adding a third kid to our mix than about the first two. Downright petrified, actually. But those nerves proved to be for nothing. We absolutely needed you here.
As we got closer to L’s birth date, the world was getting a bit crazy. Schools were closed, shutdowns began, and there were so many unknowns about the virus. Not knowing how worried we should really be was most worrying of all.
We went into the hospital early in the morning. It was the first day the hospital was implementing new rules about who could visit the hospital. There was even a question at the door if I could come in with your mom. I was told I could come in but not leave, as they couldn’t be sure I’d be let back in.
Burned into my memory is how big the whites of everyone’s eyes were that day. It was clear that nobody really knew what was going on, but the staff was calm and doing their best to act like this was normal. The usually busy hospital halls were empty and unsettlingly silent.
Perhaps everyone’s eyes were so memorable because it was also our first day really seeing people wearing masks. We didn’t even know then if masks for sure helped, and my first reaction was to resist wearing them. Only one staff member actually wore one when they came into our room, and she did it, she said, because she had allergies. It seems so silly now, but I remember being worried that this masked nurse would scare little one-day-old L when checking on her. We didn’t know how controversial and political masks would become.
As a first experience of how serious and upsetting times were becoming, as I waited with the car at the hospital door for your mom and a nurse to bring L down so we could bring her home, I witnessed a scene that has probably occurred tens of thousands of times around the country since. A man with his son was trying to be let in, crying, as a security guard and a doctor explained that while his wife was probably going to die that day upstairs, they could not be let in to see her. They were being escorted out, and it was heartbreaking. Our family has been lucky and fortunate this year, but we need to remember and do what we can to support those that haven’t.
We got L safely home, and she got to meet her proud big brothers and Nana and Papa. We had planned for Nana and Papa to stay a few days with us, but with rumors of quarantines and more shutdowns, it seemed safer and smarter for them to get home. We didn’t know then how little we’d be able to see family for the entire rest of the year. For us, that’s been the hardest and most challenging impact of 2020. When things get back to normal, we will have to make up for lost time with more trips and time together. No matter what.
Another big thing that I’m not sure you three know is how much of a toll everything in the political and social world took on me and your mom this year. We constantly felt powerless, sad, disillusioned, and upset. We recognize that many had more of a right and reason to feel this way than we did. It is still hard.
We did have important conversations together around privilege, leadership, race, poverty, disagreements, and protesting. In 2021 and beyond, I want us to continue to figure out what we can do to help leave our little corner of the world better than we found it.
Our biggest lesson this year was this: nobody is all bad, and nobody is all good. We’re all somewhere in between. This came up again and again with friendships, within our family, and with current events happening across the country. While we try to be as close to good as we can, we also need to figure out how to talk about the bad while recognizing the good.
This year has brought us closer together, allowed us to spend more time at home with each other than we probably ever will again, and has given us a lot to learn from. We mourn with those hurting, we fight for those in need, and we look forward to a healthy and happier 2021 and beyond.