I don’t know about you, but this year has not turned out the way I thought it might way back in January when I was younger and naïve and, well, hopeful. All the things I imagined would come of 2020, a small work promotion, sending my two older kids to the same school at the same time, maybe even buying a house, deeply did not come to pass. Like deeply. I got fired from my job for being married to a hospital employee, my kids haven’t seen the inside of a classroom since March, and we are farther from buying a home than probably almost ever before. Having lived through what I hope is the majority of a dystopian novel (no! more! plot! twists! please!), I feel a little wiser, a lot older, and very tired. I thought it might be fun to discuss the things we’ve learned this year, but as told through the lens of car seats. There’s a lot of wisdom to be found in car seats, really.
(And in case it needs to be said, this should be read lightheartedly. We are relentlessly grateful to be safe, healthy, and able to joke about things.)
Many things this year seemed like they’d be easy. Stay home! Wear a mask! Work from home! School at home! Masks aren’t hard except when they fog up your glasses or you have a 6-year-old with autism who cannot keep it over his nose. Staying home isn’t hard until you need a grocery item only available at one store and they don’t do delivery or pick up. School at home always seemed hard, let’s not pretend otherwise, but it did get easier. It all has gotten gradually, slowly, a bit less challenging as we found routines. But like installing a car seat, some days, randomly, it’s all hard again on a Wednesday morning because the zoom link didn’t work and so someone is crying and someone else wet their pants. Life doesn’t seem that hard on the box, but the learning curve is sharp.
If it seems too good to be true it’s probably is and you shouldn’t buy it because it’s probably a scam.
When my husband got permission to work from home, it seemed like such a fun turn—dad home all the time! No more hours in the car! More family time! I think we were all excited. But the reality is that dad is home but also locked in a room, and the back half of the house has to stay quiet so he can do video visits with patients. And there’s some invisible forcefield in my house that makes everyone instantly become DRAMATICALLY louder in the back half of the house. The piano abruptly becomes way more appealing from 8 to 5 and then instantly less appealing after 5 when it’s time to practice it properly. Trying to give a 3-year-old a well-earned timeout in his room in the back half of the house, quietly, is a real challenge, let me tell you. Don’t buy into the hype, team.
Much like rear-facing after age one—the safest option isn’t always the most desirable or comfortable. Do it anyway.
I feel this one deep in my bones. I want to celebrate the holidays with my family. I want to send my kids to school. I want to send my toddler anywhere where another adult will be in charge of him for a few hours. I want to sit at my best friend’s house and let our kids play for hours without a concern in the world. But like forward-facing a 1-year-old, the risk of what’s desirable greatly outweighs the benefit. So we will continue to stay home. To wear masks. To distance learn. Even though we’d much, much rather do the more comfortable/fun thing.
Something newer, bigger, and better is coming if we can just wait
Whenever my friends get pregnant and want to put a convertible on their registry, even though they’re using an infant seat for the first months, I tell them to wait. I tell them that there’s always something new coming in car seats. There’s always something innovative and creative and it’s often worth the wait to at least see what’s going to be available when they’re ready for a bigger seat. I think that’s incredibly true now. It’s tempting to give in to the idea that we’ve done enough, but if we can wait a little bit longer, promising vaccines and treatments are on the very immediate horizon. We’re so close, let’s hold off on adding quitting the pandemic to our registry for a few more months. (Did I stretch that metaphor too far? Yes, I did. No regrets.)
If at first you don’t succeed, put your knee into it and pull a lot harder
I feel like this is the core truth of 2020. Things just persistently haven’t gone according to the manual. Schools were only going to close for 2 weeks. I was going to work from home. Parks were open for kids if they wore masks. And each time, the outcome hasn’t quite been what was promised or expected. Resilience, putting that metaphorical hand or knee into the seat, pushing harder, and trying again, is something I think we’ve all learned and gained this year. While I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity for growth, I’d love it if 2021 presented many, many fewer growth-inducing moments.
So, what car seat metaphor life lesson did you learn in 2020?