After almost a year hiatus, I figured it’s time to jump back into the game. As with most families, this year has been fraught with unexpected twists, turns, and testing every grain of resiliency we’ve built over a lifetime. Looking back, 2020 has been a year of emotional tests beyond all else and coming out the other end, I think we’re better for it.
In January, our little (ha!) guy Tyler made his appearance – also making our family complete. His entrance to the world was relatively uneventful (though I will write about it later) but the weeks and months that followed quickly showed that every child is different as Tyler and I struggled to bond. What I mean is he didn’t seem to really take to me and it took us a while to figure each other out. I attribute our slow connection to a number of things: not having a maternity leave to focus on him, having another child vying for my attention, the financial stress of supporting the family (especially as the pandemic hit), and he quite simply hated to cuddle. Unlike Cameron, who would, to this day, crawl back up inside of me if he could, Tyler took a while to develop any sort of affinity for proximity and closeness. Whereas Cameron insisted on being worn in the body wrap at all times, Tyler preferred to be laid down and left alone. Over the past year, his preferences have shifted, of course. Now we can’t get him to get off of us and cosleeping is his favorite.
The struggle to bond with Tyler was a heavy weight I carried through a good chunk of the year. As I worked through how to emotionally support both little ones, I remember murmuring on more than one occasion, “Why does he hate me?” Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who was quick to remind me that all kids are different and we would figure it out. And we did. Now I never get a moments peace with both boys constantly smothering me… plus the dog… and my husband… and I love every minute of it.
When the pandemic hit, Hank and I did all we could to make the best of it. At the beginning, Hank was in school full time so having the boys home during quarantine was a somewhat easy adjustment. We decided divide-and-conquer was the way to go, so most of the week, I was upstairs with Tyler, balancing his care between working on client projects, while Hank kept Cameron entertained downstairs. Our stress peaked at the border of April/May when Hank’s coursework was complete and we were waiting to hear if his internship would still be moving forward. It was his last requirement for graduation and also impacted whether or not we’d continue to get GI Bill benefits through the summer – which was, as you would imagine, vitally important given the effects of the pandemic.
Summer was a relatively quiet time for us. The boys’ school opened back up, so we got our family back onto a normal schedule. Hank’s internship did go through so he went to work. My business was shifting as I explored how I wanted to pivot.
August was probably the hardest month for us because Hank and I were having two vastly different personal success experiences. I had hired a business coach and we quickly changed my business model – which resulted in the most profits I’d ever experienced and built stability into my client cycle. On the other hand, Hank graduated with honors (yay!) and took a full-time job that turned out to be an utter nightmare. It was so bad that he quit after only three weeks and then plunged into a frustrating and fruitless series of job interviews. Turns out, it’s hard to get a job during a pandemic – even harder when it’s in parks and recreation.
However, as we do around here, we took these challenges as a time to reflect on what the ideal job would be for Hank. What would make him happy long term? What would his day-to-day feel like? What sort of management structure did he want to work under or be a part of? When necessity met opportunity, Hank applied at UPS and has been blissfully working there ever since. He couldn’t be happier. For now, it’s a temporary, seasonal job, so I still have the lingering stress of what our life looks like after the holidays, but for now, I’m enjoying watching him work with much gratification.
I ended up closing out the year with a bang. My main hustle (Jen Lawrence Co) is booming. I’ve cleaned up my service offerings, figured out what activities I do (and do not) want to partake in for the next year, and even hired an assistant! My hobby hustle (to wonderland + beyond) became a sleeper source of joy and creative outline. As the new home for my Disney fandom, as well as some adorable cross stitch patterns, I’ve had a lot of fun allowing that space to be just a place of bliss.
And as for the boys, well, Cameron is almost two and half and as fun as ever. He surprises us with new words every day. The other day he pulled out “gross!” He’s starting to piece together sentences, which is creating a whole new puzzle of understanding toddler talk. Tyler, on the other hand, is huge, lovable, and almost a year old. He’s right on the verge of walking, blabbers his head off, and is obsessed with his brother. Two healthy boys that keep me on my toes.
2021 presents a few unknowns and challenges to our family. We’re waiting to hear if Hank will be awarded a coveted full-time position at UPS once his seasonal gig is up. I will be taking on a few new clients for my business and navigating new service offerings. Hank and I will be tackling paying down our debt, which has ballooned a bit with the pandemic, investments in my business, having babies, and our home renovations. But overall, we’re looking forward to settling into our lives a little bit. Hopefully. Unless 2021 is like the drunk uncle of 2020. Which, in that case, wish us luck.