“‘Happy new year…welcome—on—in…2022!’ The spoken number sounds so strange to my ears. Time is passing so quickly with years just ticking by. Our world has changed. No matter your beliefs, the face of our world has clearly changed over the last two years. The pressure and fear associated with a pandemic have left many of us scrambling for shelter and quite literally hibernating. Our homes have become our safe havens, and those living in and around them have become an immense source of strength, support, and encouragement. All of our lives have undergone structural changes with many working from home surrounded by kids in virtual classrooms. We have all had almost too much time staring at our walls thinking about how we can improve and what accomplishments await us when we are finally free from this virus.
When the news of COVID-19 first broke, I was pregnant. I was a 44-year-old woman pregnant with my first child. A child for which I never even dared to dream. You see, I was 39 years old when I met my husband. I married him and his three children two years later. We assumed a pregnancy would follow, but when it didn’t, the concern mounted. After some testing, I was told that I was in pre-menopause and had less than a 1% chance of conceiving a child. The stark realization hit like a ton of bricks, but at our ages, we decided not to dabble with fertility treatments. A baby was just not meant to be. We moved forward living our lives being happy with what we had. Then, to our complete shock, exactly one year later…I became pregnant. My first confirmatory doctor’s appointment was on February 14, 2020, Valentine’s Day. As a nurse with a 20-year pediatric ICU background, my fears were immense. Not only was I a ‘geriatric’ first-time mom-to-be (as I was so kindly dubbed), but we were living in the middle of a pandemic.
For everyone other than my co-workers and my immediate family, my pregnancy seemed surreal. I had to use video chats and social media to show off my expanding waistline. My doctor’s appointments were mainly virtual, and for those that were in person, my husband was not permitted to attend. This first-time mom even had to experience her anatomy scan solo! Thankfully, I had a wonderful pregnancy and was lucky enough to stay healthy. When the time came to induce delivery, COVID restrictions had just been relaxed, and my husband was able to stay in the hospital with me. I can honestly say I do not know how I would have withstood those 36 hours without him by my side. My heart breaks for those women who delivered a few short weeks before me, as they were not so lucky.
Bringing our daughter home to our blended family was beautiful. The kids were in awe of the little nugget and immediately fell in love. We have been lucky to provide our family with a generous size home, but those early days with a newborn made it feel as if it would burst at the seams. Due to COVID restrictions, my husband was forced to move his office into our house. We created work areas for the kids (two teens and one pre-teen) as their hybrid school model had them working from home three days a week. Add my mom into the mix as she wanted to spend time with her first grandchild and she lived too far to commute. Needless to say our house was full, and I was pretty much confined to the bedroom with a newborn. The only resident super happy with the arrangement was our 120-pound puppy…he was in his glory with everyone home!
My husband and I worked hard in those first few weeks to remain sane. We were not always nice, in fact, at times, we were not kind at all. There were tears, and there were words that should not have been exchanged. At the conclusion of my maternity leave, with no end to COVID in sight, my husband and I decided it would be best for our family if I took some time off from work. Our priorities shifted from being a dual-income household to keeping our family safe and healthy. Thankfully, we were fortunate enough to be financially able to swing it. Truth be told, after dedicating myself fully to my career for so many years, I welcomed the thought of some time at home. The past year in my new role, caring for my family full-time, has been both incredibly rewarding and incredibly challenging. I never expected to experience guilt associated with being a stay-home mom. I never heard anyone speak of that. My husband works to financially support our family alone now, so that must mean I am in charge of everything else…right? The pressure I have put on myself to do my new ‘job’ to perfection while being a loving wife and devoted mother has left me drained. I had this ideal that I could do it all gracefully. I mean, come on…I used to be the charge nurse in a busy 55 bed pediatric ICU…how could this even compare?! It has taken me a full year to see reality through my rose-colored glasses and sometimes accept that reality…with a hard swallow.
I have heard so many say that they are jumping for joy that 2021 has come to a close. In contrast, the conclusion of 2021 has felt a bit somber for me. I poured a lot of myself into family life this past year with some beautiful results and some really crappy ones. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, I needed a mental break. Admittedly, I spent far too much time scrolling social media. I am not sure why I thought that would be relaxing, as it was the total opposite. There were so many striking posts about resolutions for the new year. I was shocked to see so many people commenting about not making new year’s resolutions. Not changing because they ‘like themselves just the way they are.’ I found myself thinking a lot about that statement as I too like myself, but in reality, we can all strive for improvement. Has hibernation created a society of people too perfect in our own minds to improve ourselves or have we just become too lazy?!
I believe that resolutions are a promise to yourself, and January 1st simply provides an identifiable starting point. The promise can be to keep doing things that give you joy and make you feel whole. The promise can also be to create a new habit that you think will bring you joy or release an old habit that has become negative or draining. I actually made my first resolution for 2022 in September. I decided to embark on an adventure sharing things I love through my writing. I promised myself that if it made me feel good to share my stories with others, then it was a worthy use of my time. The second part of that promise was to not determine the value of my words through the likes of others. If someone found inspiration through my words or simply laughed, it would just be a bonus.
The many lessons I have learned throughout 2021 have definitely shaped my outlook for 2022. My largest resolution is my most challenging, and to be honest I have not started yet. However, now that it is written…I will start today.
I promise to be kinder to myself.
Part of this means that I will make an effort to express my needs to others BEFORE I fall apart in a fit of disappointment and frustration.
Part of this means that if I choose to do something I love, like staying in my pajamas all day and making an elaborate dinner for my family, I will not allow myself to be consumed with guilt. The guilt that my husband is working hard in the other room to financially support our family alone.
Part of this means that instead of believing that I must be present and suffer through yet another Marvel movie…I will give myself permission to retreat with a cozy blanket and a good book.
A giant part of this means that I do not need to bottle my emotions and simply accept others being unkind to me…even if they are family.
Thinking about all of this actually makes my head spin. It will impact every area of my life and every relationship. It is a lofty promise, but one that is most worthy. Now I just need to find a way to hold myself accountable!
My wish for you is to re-evaluate your view of a New Year’s Resolution. I hope you make a promise to yourself. A promise to do more of something you love, something that makes you feel good about yourself. You can even join me in learning what it means for you to be kind to yourself. I think that creating this harmony within one’s soul will inevitably lead to joy around them. Fingers crossed!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jaime Powers DeConti of Philadelphia, PA. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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