2020 Was Like Having a Child
I’m not one to look back. Being more of a “let’s move on,” forward-looking person, I really dislike those shows and writings that revisit the highs, lows and celebrity deaths of the previous year. But last year was a giant, unexpected kick in the butt, so maybe a little reflection is not a bad thing. There are even people who are already writing and broadcasting what they’ve learned from the year of the pandemic. I’m not sure that I’ve processed it yet, but 2020 does remind me a little of having children.
The year started out all cute and cuddly. We were going about our daily lives, just as we do as parents, totally unaware that our healthy child might get sick. We innocently continued doing whatever we normally do – working, getting the kids to school, making dinner, seeing friends. Caring for and feeding that new baby was easy. 2020’s infancy was relatively calm, and most of us were sleeping well.
But, that cute infant suddenly got sick with a virus. It started with a mild fever in January, but spread through the entire body shortly after that. Like new parents who don’t know when to call the doctor, the U.S. had become like a child despondent with a raging fever that no physician could bring down and no professional knew how to cure.
By March, the happy child we thought we had was victim to a chronic illness.
There’s nothing more confusing and unsettling than not knowing what to do. As often happens with parents of a chronically ill child, the parents divorced under the strain. Our nation divided on itself rather than pulling together to overcome the sickness.
Being a parent involves trust and hope that the future for the child will be a happy and healthy one. Some parents’ values have shifted due to the coronavirus. Many of us have stripped back the layers of attachment to material things, to competitiveness, to pettiness and selfishness to uncover what is truly meaningful and important to us. Maybe our child doesn’t need every new toy and gadget. Maybe having a real human teacher is better for human children than looking at a screen all day. Maybe we have learned to support and care for those in need or our neighbors who are marginalized because we are also in need and we also hurt.
As our child slowly returns to health, I hope that I will be like most parents and find the best parts of that first year as I look back. I hope we’ll forget the crying jags and the scary illness and the helpless feeling and the sleepless nights and remember the overpowering love and gentleness in creation.