I had a colleague who, when talking about the stages of growing children, insisted that one stage was not better then the next–just different.
I, as a young mother with my first child, disagreed. I loved the playfulness of 2, the personality of 3, the independence of 4, the self-assertiveness of 5. Then I had my second child and saw the wisdom of her words.
My second child’s milestones feel bittersweet. Crawling means more fidgeting when I hold her for too long. Walking means the end of baby snuggles. Every stage is just different.
I think about 2020 in the same way. We are changed by it. We will be forever changed by it. Not necessarily or wholly good and not necessarily or wholly bad.
Yes, in 2020, we were greeted with death in ways we have never experienced, but I think that has also made us think more about our health and well-being. Financial challenges have made us think hard about how close we are to needing underfunded social programs. Social distancing has put our relationships into perspective. Who are we including in our pod?
We have also had some difficult conversations that we have been avoiding as a nation. We are talking and learning about racism and how we must be anti-racist to dismantle systematic racism. We are examining our broken healthcare system where millions of Americans are un- or underinsured during a pandemic.
We have also been innovative. Companies, schools, industries took steps to address safety and promote sanitized work environments or work from home options. This happened in days or weeks, instead of months or years.
We are looking at our education system and the role it plays in delivering key social services to students and their families. We can see poverty in ways never seen before.
These are rough highlights. I am not sharing anything new. We will be changed by 2020–not good, not bad.