The year of all years is coming to a close. If you told me in 2019 half of what would happen in 2020, I would look at you like you had four heads. A global pandemic? Being stuck inside the majority of the year? Being out of work? And I would be one of the lucky ones to make it out of this year not catching a virus. What a crazy ride it’s been.
Yet in all the sadness and uncertainty, 2020 has given us one of the greatest gifts of all. Our baby Heath.
Part of why I waited so long to announce my pregnancy earlier this year was because I felt wrong for doing so. We were so surprised, so happy, so grateful to be expanding our family (even if we had no plans of getting pregnant this year), that I felt guilty to be celebrating new life when so many in the world were mourning. Mourning loved ones, friends, careers, lifestyles… in fact, 2020 feels like the year of mourning. I wanted so badly to protect the life we were waiting for from the sadness of the state of the world. When he made his appearance, I was so grateful to have made it through the pregnancy healthy and to have a healthy newborn. The tragedies of the year put so many of the middle of the night wakeups into a different frame for me. When in the past I may have been easily frustrated, I try using that time to get to know Heath even more and soak in all his newness. We have no choice but to sit still for a moment, and there’s something about the darkness in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is sleeping that gives a sense of peace. Trust me, I still had (and have!) my moments of frustration. I’m the first to admit having a newborn is challenging, and Heath’s first few weeks were filled with many late nights trying to calm his fussiness from reflux, but this year I’ve found a level of gratitude in those crazy moments that I don’t think any other year could bring me.
It’s funny to look back at the end of 2019 and what our plans were as a family. We told ourselves this was the year that we would bring Jude to New York and California. He would meet extended family and we would take him to all the fun places we’ve been in our past trips to Los Angeles. We also started early brainstorming our next big trips as a family, with a cruise to Alaska and a 2021 trip to Europe in mind. When COVID-19 first popped up, we already had our New York trip booked for April. We had moved it to July thinking that was more than enough time for this to run its course and things to be safe. Part of me was even happy because I figured that by then, my morning sickness would subside and I’d be able to enjoy the trip even more. How naive we were! Instead, we took homebodies to the next level.
For so many 2020 may arguably be the worst year of their life. If it weren’t for Heath, 2020 would be a year that I’d gladly shut the door on when the clock turns to midnight. While it’s a far cry from the best year of my life, it did give me one of the best joys of my life, and for that, I could never hate 2020. I’ve experienced more downs than ups these past 365 days, but at the apex of my year in review is the birth of a little boy that has brought so much joy, so much love, and so much life to our family, I can easily forget the downs. In 2020 I was forced to put my career on hold, all the weddings we had planned for the year through Sofie and Olive were postponed, my family went a year without being in the same room, I spent my first holiday in my entire life without my parents, and we had to cancel all future travel plans until further notice. But I wake up in the morning and get to watch the relationship between Jude and Heath, the most beautiful curveball life threw at us earlier this year, and I’m reminded that while so much went wrong this year, so much also went right for us.
I’ve stated my opinion on resolutions in the past, but I think this is such a good time to set some goals for 2021. There’s so much that’s out of all of our control, and it feels like this pandemic has full governing of the trajectory of our lives, that I think setting goals – whether big or small – to work towards can give a little hope to better days. I’m also choosing to be realistic, as I try and be this time of year every year. I don’t think you should ever wait for January 1st to start something new you want to do, and I know the changing of the year doesn’t mean all our problems go away. Life would be too easy if we had a reset button every 365 days, and there’s no leaving a global pandemic behind, but I’m choosing this time of reflection to try and highlight the positives of this hectic experience. It’s forced me to be a more present mom and wife, never will I ever take face-to-face experiences with family and friends for granted ever again, and we got a really good new Real Housewives franchise out of Bravo. That counts for something!
This is going to sound a little (okay, very) sappy, but there’s a certain part of my neighborhood that always brings a wave of feelings when I pass by. Early in the pandemic when everyone was afraid to even go for a walk, every day I’d take Jude to this corner early in the morning when nobody was out. I was still pretty early in my pregnancy and while Jude was walking, he still preferred to be mostly carried. We would stand there and watch the birds and squirrels eat the seeds that one of our neighbors threw down every day. Jude spent the entire time enamored by the birds flying, hoping to spot a bunny, and I’d spend so much of that time in my own thoughts. Worrying that I’d have to labor alone, worrying that November wouldn’t bring us a new president, worrying that a vaccine would never come. How many Americans would catch COVID by the time we walked to that corner the next day? My anxiety would get the best of me yet I still looked forward to that small part of each day because it brought a little consistency during a crazy time.
Now there’s ice where the neighbor used to throw seeds, and it’s way too cold to spot a bunny long enough, but when we pass by that corner in the car I can’t help but think about how much has changed since our warm walks together. Now there’s another little boy to chase squirrels with next summer, a new president that’ll bring back some dignity to our country, and the hopeful promises of a vaccine. I know we have a long way to go until we’re back to hugging each other without thinking twice or walking into a supermarket without a mask, but don’t you feel like 2021 is bringing a glimmer of light to the end of this very long tunnel? I like to think so.
So I’m not walking into 2021 with two middle fingers up to 2020 like many people are (maybe just one middle finger 😉 ), but I am hopeful for better days. When I recap the year, the struggles and uncertainty are nothing compared to the immense joy of meeting our new son, and the day-to-day happiness of watching our kids grow. I’m hopeful for more of that in 2021 for both myself and my loved ones.
And more good Real Housewives seasons. I’m always hopeful for those.
Happy New Year!