Like most working moms, I usually live life in the fast lane, desperately trying to do the best I can while holding on for dear life. Whether I liked it or not, though, this year forced me to slow down and spend a lot more time trapped at home with my children.
Although I often complained about the canceled vacations or the stress that came along with 2020, I have to admit that I’m actually somewhat thankful for this year. In fact, I’ve learned several things about my kids this year that I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.
My Children Have Unique Learning Styles
Although I studied learning styles during my time in college, I’d never really thought about the fact that my own two children may process information in very different ways. As the pandemic forced my family into distance learning in the spring, though, I quickly noticed the different ways that each of my two children learns.
My oldest child is absolutely a logical learner, meaning she learns through problem-solving and questioning. What’s more, she quickly absorbs information from reading and will remember something after reading or hearing it even just a single time. While this meant that she could mostly work independently, she would end up with a huge list of questions related to her work as soon as she completed it. I almost needed to keep my phone or laptop handy as she worked because many of her burning questions about the world were far beyond my knowledge.
On the other hand, my youngest daughter is more of a blended auditory and kinesthetic learner. I quickly noticed that she remembered things if I read them to her or she listened to them in some other way. When it came to following directions, though, she needed me to model each step for her before she could do it herself. This helped her see and feel how the motions played out. She would also avoid tasks that she felt she couldn’t do well, which meant I needed to find creative ways to help her complete the assignments.
My Kids Are Resilient
Like countless other families, the pandemic wasn’t the only thing my children and I faced this year. We also experienced divorce and all of the events that came along with that, like selling the only home they’d ever known and moving into a much smaller apartment.
While I felt devastated as I pushed through an unwanted divorce, I also worried about my children and their emotional wellbeing as we made several sudden life changes. Much to my surprise, though, my children coped amazingly well and taught me a lot about resilience and radical acceptance.
My oldest daughter looked at every step of the divorce process with a very logical lens, and this seemed to make it easier for her to process. She asked lots of questions about the divorce process itself, what the custody schedule would look like, and what items would go into our new home. But once I answered her questions, she would just say, “Okay!” and move on. She simply took the information, accepted it, and moved on.
My youngest daughter struggled a bit more initially, but I expected this since she’s a more emotional child in general. However, even she bounced back rather quickly. Instead of deep questions, she simply needed reassurance and a little extra love in the early days of the separation and the move. But within just a matter of weeks, she started telling me things like, “I’m okay now, Mommy,” and “I feel happy in our new house.”
People always say that children are resilient, but I am so thankful that I got to see it play out before my very eyes this year.
My Girls Genuinely Value Quality Time
I worried that all of the added time together this year would cause the three of us to grow angry and bitter over time. However, I quickly saw a very different reality play out with my kids anytime we were separated.
On the few occasions that my girls spent the night with a grandparent this year, they would return home and share how much they missed me. In fact, they’d beg for cuddles or ask me to play a board game with them because they wanted to do something together. I absolutely loved it.
When I would take one child to an appointment and leave the other with their dad, I’d hear all about how they missed each other as soon as they were reunited. They’d hug and play together for hours, claiming that they needed to spend time together after being apart for just a matter of hours.
Through these small experiences, I saw just how much my girls value family quality time, and I’m not sure that I would have ever experienced this if we hadn’t ended up spending so much time with just the three of us this year.
I will admit that 2020 definitely put a damper on a lot of things for us: We canceled exciting vacations, we missed out on celebrations with the extended family, and we didn’t even get to do many of our usual yearly activities. However, I really feel like the insights that I gained during this difficult year almost balanced out those things that we missed. I definitely don’t want a repeat of 2020 in the slightest, but I am thankful for all that the year provided.
Previously Published on Moms.com