By Chris Jones

 

This year has been a wild ride, hasn’t it?

As a parent, I found 2020 to be my most challenging year since 2012—when our infant son had colic for his first three months, we lost everything in an apartment fire and were temporarily displaced and my grandmother died. In that year, I was forced to re-examine my life and pivot. This year felt much the same way.

One thing I appreciated about the pandemic—the silver lining so to speak—was how it disrupted our pace. I had long felt the pace at which we were going was doing us more harm than good. As parents we were working more hours, our children were inundated with homework and extracurricular activities that spilled into nights and entire weekends. Texting replaced family conversation and Google Calendar was the law. Both parents and children were becoming overly stressed, anxious, and deeply deprived of rest. The pandemic’s effect on our lives and schedules was akin to a swimmer succumbing to a cramp midway through a heat. It was a full stop. It was time to re-evaluate.

I had to change the way I parented, change the way that I worked, change my relationship with my wife, and put outside friendships on hold to ensure my family thrived first. I’m sure you did the same. It didn’t come without heavy doses of frustration, parental fatigue, and endless doubts as to whether in was handling this well in the presence of my children. I felt like Bad Cop/Good Cop in The LEGO Movie. Depending on the day, the face my children saw would be variable—Good dad/Frustrated dad. I had to look my teary-eyes kids in the face and apologize for my reactions many a-days. #DadSinsConfessed

Despite the challenges we all faced this year, we got to the end. And I pray we can look toward 2021 with the same hope and optimism we had entering in 2020. This year, we learned how to flow with the times, how to adapt and adjust and how to choose the important over the trivial.

I’ll close by wishing you a happy and festive holiday season. Celebrate one, or all, of the upcoming holidays—Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa—as part of the greater lesson of 2020 of being more community-minded, relational and loving of your neighbors. May you find joy and peace in what’s likely to be one of the most non-traditional, yet memorable, holiday seasons in our lifetimes. And cheers to a happy and healthy 2021.