With my birthday and New Years, December always makes me introspective. Last year was a tough one to reflect on, because 2020 was so different than anyone had expected it to be. I went into 2020 with a new house and new baby, and plans for playgroups and library rhyme-time sessions in our new town. I was newly laid-off and I planned to make the most of my “extended maternity leave” by volunteering and gardening and being a stay-at-home mom. That quickly turned into a juggling act as I tried to homeschool George and care for a newborn and keep the noise down while Richard worked from home in the next room. It was hard, but it was all still new. There was a novelty to the first lockdown that made it, if not easier, then a little more interesting at least. We stayed healthy and safe, and all of our friends and family managed to avoid covid. At the end of the year, I could be grateful for that, and grateful for Paul and our new home (lovely place to be stuck in!).
Looking back on 2021, it’s all a bit of a blur. The novelty is gone as we enter year 3 of the pandemic. We’re used to masking up and the smell of hand sanitiser, plexiglass screens and social distancing. I’ve even gotten used to taking swabs for PCR and lateral flow tests now. I also finally got the dreaded virus, brought home from my son’s class at school. It was unavoidable—8 out of the 20 students had covid in the week before Christmas break. I’m currently on day 9 of my 10 day self-isolation, which is not how I imagined my New Years. Thankfully, my symptoms are gone, and George has been fine, so I suppose I should be grateful for our health—but it would have been nice to have avoided covid altogether.
After another weird pandemic year, it’s harder to find things to be grateful for, and much harder to come up with reasons for hope. Even after all of my self-help reading and Brené Brown and Oprah podcasts over the past two years, I still feel untethered. I find it hard to make plans and set goals—everything still feels unpredictable.
Good things that happened in 2021:
- George learned to read and got his own library card—one of my parenting goals can be checked off the list!
- We got to go to the States and see family—and they got to meet Paul!
- I got certified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
- I wrote an academic paper. It hasn’t been published yet, but I wrote it!
- My book chapter was published and I gave a virtual research seminar about it.
- I did 100 squats a day in November for Cancer Research UK.
- I got to visit with my mom twice this year, which 2020 taught me not to take for granted.
I still struggle with my (perceived/real) career failures and trying to figure out what to do next. For now, I have a couple of remote freelance gigs that help me feel slightly better while I continue to apply for academic jobs. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep applying, as every rejection is soul-destroying, but all of my self-help reading and podcast listening helps me keep a little bit of faith and hope alive.
Happy New Year to you all, and best wishes for 2022!