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In defense of 2020

Hardship and challenges defined the year but also gave families some much-needed time together.

In a “normal” year, my husband and I both work full time, run a ministry at our church and parent our two children, ages 11 and 5. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I often wished I could be with my kids more. I love my career as a journalist, but I cherish time with my family. In fact, a more flexible schedule is a big part of what brought me to The Christian Chronicle.

If one thing has united people this year, it seems to be the idea that 2020 has been rotten. But on the bright side, I have been blessed with an abundance of quality time — and quantity time — with my husband and children. 

Chellie Ison's children work on school in the family's dining room just after schools shutdown, in March.

Chellie Ison’s children work on school in the family’s dining room just after schools shutdown, in March.

In March, like seemingly everyone else in the world, we were suddenly home together all day, every day. The future seemed uncertain.  

I would be lying if I said it was all perfect and easy. It wasn’t. There were many tears as we grasped the changes happening all around us. 

My kids struggled to accept that they wouldn’t be finishing their school year with their teachers and friends in a traditional setting. More tears came as we figured out what living through quarantines and possible exposures meant for those visits with family and the socially distanced bike rides we allowed with neighborhood friends. 

Then came layoffs at my husband’s company. Twice. 

While his job wasn’t cut, the realities of what was happening to friends and coworkers were not lost on us. We realize that for so many life became much more difficult. 

Yet technology emerged as an obvious blessing. 

The world had shut down, or so it seemed, but we could still worship with our church family online. I made communion bread week after week, thanks to an online recipe and online grocery shopping. 

Because of technology, groceries could be delivered to my trunk or even my front porch. I connected with people thousands of miles away for interviews via video calls. I couldn’t help but think how much more challenging life would have been had this pandemic happened even just a decade ago. 

Then came the start of a new school year. I transitioned between working mom and homeschool mom/teacher each day. I helped my kids through school in the mornings and spent the afternoons at my “office” at the dining room table — refereeing the frequent arguments that erupted in the next room.

Chellie's daughter, Ila, works on her Kindergarten work from home.

Chellie’s daughter, Ila, works on her Kindergarten work from home.

While teaching is not a gift of mine, our virtual schooling has been memorable as I sit with each child and figure out how to best help them learn. We’ve done art projects, made (and spilled) a pot of applesauce and navigated our way through dozens of worksheets — at a snail’s pace. (Seriously, thank a teacher in your life.) 

I’ve counted it a blessing that I could actually remember fifth-grade math skills and successfully help my son with fractions and decimal numbers. It’s been fun watching my 5-year-old begin to recognize words and read simple sentences, knowing I actually had a part in that. 

Our daily lives have changed. Our pace has slowed. I hope as my children get older, they will remember the good parts of this year, the quality time we’ve had. 

There’s no way we could have prepared for this year. But, if anything, 2020 has taught my family that together is a wonderful place to be.

CHELLIE ISON is digital news editor for The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected]. 

Filed under: 2020 Church of Christ COVID-19 Opinion pandemic shutdown Views virtual school

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