20 things I learned in 2020

Bye, 2020! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Nevertheless, here are 20 things I learned in 2020:

  1. Sometimes disruption equals disaster.

In February, news reports said a top official at the CDC told her family they should prepare for “significant disruption.”

So, the first lesson I learned in this long, long year is that when scientists say things like “significant disruption,” what they often mean is that the proverbial poop is about to hit the propeller – big time.

  1. Speaking of poop…

Some things in life are important. Toilet paper is one of them. Sometimes it takes a global pandemic to make all of us realize it (at the exact same time).

  1. You probably don’t need as much as you think.

Part of loving thy neighbor is avoiding being a toilet paper hoarder who makes it impossible for the rest of us to find a roll when we need it.

  1. Not all hand sanitizers are created equal. Avoid the slimy, stinky ones.
  2. Time is relative. Sometimes a whole month can feel like one long, weird Wednesday.
  3. Homebodies have coping skills.

We might be terrible at cocktail parties, but some aspects of this year were easier for homebodies to handle. When so much of the country closed and events were cancelled, we homebodies secretly reveled in the newfound ability to skip the social scene, no questions asked.

  1. Curbside is king.

As companies small and large adapted to this year’s reality, doing business “curbside” became increasingly popular, making it more possible to spend all day in pajama pants.

  1. Speaking of pajamas…

One of the best ways to avoid the temptation to see people outside your own bubble is to wear soft sleep pants with a forgiving elastic waistband. You can even wear them to pick up dinner curbside.

  1. Working from home isn’t always easy, but it does allow for pajama pants. (And your dog is there.)
  2. Don’t cause bubble trouble.

The atmosphere of your household’s pandemic bubble is much like an actual bubble – beautiful yet delicate and easily popped. Preserve it with kindness and value it like the protective miracle it is.

  1. For some kids, online school is like regular school, minus all the fun stuff.
  2. For some parents, online school is like having your regular job plus a teaching job, an IT management job, and a personal assistant’s job (except your client is the kid whose diapers you once changed.)
  3. Don’t ask. Just mask.

Asking if someone who’s wearing a mask also wants you to wear one is a little like asking if they mind if you accidentally give them or someone they love a potentially lethal virus. So, don’t ask. Just mask. It’s simpler this way.

  1. Crisis can make us creative.
  2. People are essential.

Life matters so much. And that includes the lives of those over 75. Lives of people with underlying conditions. Lives of people of every color. Lives of the rich, the poor and all of us somewhere between. And the most essential people – the first responders, the nurses, doctors, hospital aides, janitors and all the front-line people keeping our most vital businesses open – they’ve brought us through the most challenging year of our lives. They’ve endured unimaginable stress along the way and have witnessed so much death and grief. I don’t know if it’s possible to adequately thank them, but we should try.

  1. Politics shouldn’t poison our country.
  2. Ice cream usually helps.
  3. Good health equals wealth.

Even the biggest bank account in the world can’t help you breathe when your lungs won’t work.

  1. Even homebodies need to go out.

Some of the things I most look forward to doing again in 2021 include moving my son into his college dorm for the first time, clapping as the curtain opens on a play with my kid on the stage, watching an orchestra performance with my son playing tuba, and eating lunch out with mask-less, vaccinated friends where we all feel safe and grateful to be together again.

  1. Love is not all we need.

The Beatles sang “All You Need is Love,” but this year taught us we also need bravery, public health, access to toilet paper, financial help for businesses to survive, truth, honesty, ice cream, respect, family and the endurance to wait for better days ahead. Perhaps at the core of all those things is what we all need most this year and every year – love.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. Her book is available on Amazon. 

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