While things like school closures, uncertainty with jobs, canceled vacations, and isolation have been tough this year– my biggest struggle has been watching how our society has responded. And when social media is a big part of my job, it is impossible to turn it off.
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to handle my responses. And here’s what I’ve come up with when deciding how to react: I want to behave in a way today that I’m proud to tell my grandchildren, should I have them someday.
What if, while we are on our keyboards, at the grocery store, at the polls, when given the chance to stand up for what’s right – we all imagined telling the story of that moment to our grandchildren one day?
These are a few of the stories of what I hope to tell my grandchildren about what we learned this year:
- We became more appreciative and respectful of essential workers. People who worked in healthcare, at restaurants, in factories, at grocery stores, etc. stepped up and put their lives on the line to help the rest of us. I’ll tell my grandkids about how we stayed home when we could and sent words of encouragement to friends and family who worked essential jobs.
- Helping others came before freedom. We wore masks and at times couldn’t go everywhere that we wanted to go. I’ll tell my grandkids we learned to balance individual rights with public safety and showed grace to those in positions that had to make these tough decisions.
- We no longer took voting for granted and demanded that voting be more accessible to all. In 2016, 61.8% participated in the presidential election; my hope in 2020 is that this number is much higher and that improvements are made so that everyone gets the opportunity to have their vote counted. I’ll tell my grandkids that this was the year that voting became more accessible and more voices were heard.
- We must support and appropriately compensate our teachers. I hope the under-appreciation of our teachers ends now. We all learned that teaching just our children was HARD. I’ll tell my grandkids that in 2020, education shifted where we put trust in our teachers to do their jobs and started to better value their hard work.
- We thought new moms were amazing but found out they were rock stars. I had several friends who had babies in 2020. They went to ultrasound appointments alone. They went through hours of labor wearing a mask. They were limited in visitors and length of hospital stay. They rocked it – and then some. I’ll tell my grandkids that moms are even tougher than we realized.
- We needed a big wakeup call when it came to racial inequality. My hope is that we’re at a turning point in understanding that racism is a public health crisis and reform is needed. I’ll tell my grandkids that 2020 was the year we stopped ignoring the issues and started addressing them head-on.
- We don’t have to be on the go 24/7. It was nice to stay home more, eat more dinners around the table, and connect with immediate family. I’ll tell my grandkids that we slowed down and spent more time appreciating the small things.
- We have to support small businesses. During 2020, we had choices about whether to buy masks locally or from big box stores. We could choose to dine out at a chain or try a new, locally owned business. I’ll tell my grandkids that in 2020, we started making a more conscious effort to support local businesses.
- Quality childcare should be affordable and accessible to all families. 23% of U.S. children live in a single-parent household and 64% of U.S. children live in a household where both parents work. So when children can’t go to school, parents are left with little to no affordable, safe options for where to send their kids while they’re at work. I’ll tell my grandkids how it took a pandemic for us to realize that parents need better childcare options.
- It’s okay to let go of toxic relationships. I don’t share the exact same opinions as all of my friends or family, but I believe it’s okay to have a line that’s not okay to cross. I’ll tell my grandkids that we had to make some tough decisions and choose not to engage with some people who didn’t share our values.
- There’s no downside to removing symbols that are hurtful to people. Whether it was syrup or our favorite sports team, we made some changes for the better. These things still brought us joy and life went on even though they looked different. We also got rid of a few things that weren’t needed because we could learn about them in books. I’ll tell my grandkids that we finally got rid of some dated and offensive symbols.
I truly hope that 2020 is the year of positive change for myself, my family, and our society. While some moments and days are tough right now, I’m holding onto the dream that these are stories I can tell someday. What stories do you hope to tell your grandchildren?