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2020 In Review | Our Prairie Nest
2020 In Review

I think every year-end blog post or card or family newsletter is going to start with, “What a year!” We say that every year, though, don’t we? At the end of most years, I tend to be optimistic and set goals for the new year. Last year, however, I said, “Same shit, different year.” So I guess I’d better go back to optimism, because look how 2020 turned out!

We are among the fortunate people who haven’t gotten sick yet. However, several people we know and love did get sick, and that has been pretty scary. There’s no telling how Covid will affect anyone, which is what makes it so daunting.

When I heard the news about the first vaccine being administered in the UK, I cried with happiness. Here’s hoping that the roll-out of vaccines in the U.S. goes smoothly and we can all look forward to a slow return to something approaching normalcy.

Of course, we’re happy with the way the election turned out this year. It was another positive aspect of 2020. It took me a few days to feel safe opening a bottle of victory wine, but when I finally went for it, it couldn’t have been a sweeter moment.

Remote schooling for some of the year was difficult, but we felt it was necessary. It was hard for the kids to not see other people face to face. However, we felt it was the most responsible choice over the holidays, considering the uncertainty around other people choosing to gather with large groups, have family get-togethers, etc. We did our best to keep joy in the household with new books, games, music, and TV shows. It wasn’t always easy, but I think extra hugs and talking frankly about everything going on in the world went a long way.

At some point in the year, I also realized I was just done with certain projects and let them go, full stop. I had no drive to move forward. I thought my interest in and excitement for those projects might return, but no. So far, nothing.

It’s disappointing, because these projects have been a big part of “me” for 4 years. They’ve also given many other people a lot of joy. However, as Charlotte once said in “Sex & the City,” I think I’m done here.

What’s next? I’m still figuring that out. I still love my job and the teaching I’ve been doing, so that isn’t changing. But I need to figure out what’s next as far as other aspects of my life.

This post is already rambly, but there you have it. 2020 was, for us, challenging but we made it. Here we are. Where we’re going from here, though, I have no idea. At least, though, I’m feeling far more optimistic at this point in the year than I felt going into 2020!

Back to School | Our Prairie Nest
Back to School

I’m experiencing mixed feelings about the kids going back to school this year. But tomorrow is the day.

For my daughter, it should be yet another lovely year of childhood. She’s going into second grade. She’s smart and feisty, and loves school and her friends. This ought to be a fun year.

My son is a senior in high school, and this should be his “Grease” year. Fun and exciting things should happen, while he figures out his future. With all the free periods he has in his schedule, he should be able to use the time toward college credits.

Last year started off with all of these lovely things. I had a new planner and enjoyed marking off special school events in it. We looked forward to spring sports – track and softball, neither of which my kids got to do. In March, we had them home and did our best to pull together to finish out their school year.

I’m sorry for what my kids missed out on last year, but more grateful that we’ve all been healthy and safe. The distance from friends had more of an effect on my daughter than my son. Fortunately, she was able to see a few friends here and there over the summer, but it was nothing like a “normal” year.

If our district switches to remote learning, we will manage just fine. Some families won’t. I know we’re lucky. I know we’ll be okay. But I don’t know if we’ll get sick or what will happen if we do. That’s the scary part, really. The uncertainty.

Of course, every day is uncertain, but I’m risk averse. And, this year, school is more of a risk than usual.

Prettier on the Outside | Our Prairie Nest
Prettier on the Outside

This incubator of plague and sower of dissent is my daughter. I love her with all my heart, but motherhood isn’t easy, no matter how cute the child appears. Sure, plenty of people do tell me she’s cute – “So cute!” “How adorable!” “I just love her.” “She’s no trouble at all.” To the outside world, what you see is what you get.

But we know the truth about our children. We know no amount of dreamy, Instagram-filtered photos can convince us otherwise. Our children are tiny monsters of varying degrees, with superpowers we never knew existed until they were born.

In her first 6 years, my daughter:

  1. Informed me that she thinks I hate her and wish I never had her (this is because we grounded her for sneaking outside with her unwanted dinner and trying to throw it in our trash can to fool us into thinking she’d eaten);
  2. Had various colds and hand, foot and mouth disease (something I, as a city-bred New Englander, thought only hoofed animals contracted);
  3. Managed to make up fantastic stories to explain mundane things, like how a Raggedy Ann doll got all the way up on top of a bookshelf (according to her, our smallest parrot found a way out of his cage, picked up the doll, and flew it up there; another time, she informed me that a monkey farted on her finger, causing her pain… what?).

When my husband and I fight, it’s only about one thing: how to parent our daughter. While my daughter is rolling in mud, organizing her spiders to worship their queen, and plotting how to hide the evidence that she didn’t eat her broccoli, my 17-year-old son is calmly ambivalent about his sexuality, strumming a guitar, and going with friends to Taco Bell.

I never had these challenges with my son. I am one of the moms who was duped into thinking, “Wow, the first child is so easy, the second will be a breeze!” Why, why, why did I think that?

Here’s something else I’m also guilty of thinking: that other kids suck. When I see a child screaming in a grocery store or a mother with 5 kids clinging to her, I look at my daughter and say, “I’m so grateful for you.”

But I think most moms don’t actually suck at parenting. I think most of us are doing the best we can, and most of us only see what others allow us to see. I think we all make our parenting choices and hope for the best. And, honestly, we need to let it be that way.

So next time your child is organizing a household mutiny or you suspect them of seditious intentions, don’t despair. I’m pretty sure you aren’t alone.