March 16th of 2020 was the night before my 40th birthday. I squeezed a birthday dinner in with one of my girlfriends because we knew that the next day everything was going on complete lockdown due to the Coronavirus.
I and anyone else whose birthday is March 17th were the first ones to have a pandemic birthday.
There were no drive-by parties. There were no Zoom parties. That would come later. For those of us who enjoy celebrating our birthdays, or even looked forward to a milestone, it looked like our birthday would just be forgotten this year.
I remember thinking to myself, next year will be a redo.
While 2021 still won’t be bringing me the epic 40th (again) birthday celebration, I realize 40 was still a pretty solid year. I didn’t have some of the same adjustments and challenges that others had.
E was only 3 at the time so we weren’t having to adjust to distance learning and I already worked from home (I actually don’t mind being home). I bought yeast but didn’t make bread. I didn’t do a full minimalist purge. I didn’t start a TikTok.
I did participate in some of the “new” hobbies (or tried to).
I bought plants and kept them alive. I went camping. I cooked more. We started homeschool for preschool. I started decorating for ALL holidays. I became addicted to the Dollar Spot at Target (aka Bullseye’s Playground) and I became aware of Costco, Target, and Trader Joe’s (and a few others’) fan accounts on Instagram.
I also became more rooted in my faith and made stronger connections with some newer friends.
This is, obviously, something that was not intentional at first but happened because everything was shut down. My church was closed. No in-person MOPs. No in-person Bible Study. No mom meet-ups. It’s also significant because 2019 had been my year to be more intentional about the person I wanted to be. The Mom I wanted my son to remember growing up with.
Two months after taking on a leadership role in my MOPs group, two months after starting my second session of a book-by-book bible study, two months after starting a volunteer role at my church, and almost two months after being baptized, everything came to a halt.
A routine that fully supported my goal of being more intentional was no longer. So how could I possibly become more rooted in my faith when I no longer had that support?
I don’t have a specific marker for the moment I realized I wanted to start my own small group. A small group is like a Bible study but may not always be a bible study. Sometimes it’s just a group of people who get together on the basis of a shared interest, not just Jesus. I was seeking personal development from a more faith-based capacity.
What I ended up with was a group of friends who not only supported me but also learned with me.
A group of friends who dove into the Bible with me and navigated what I was learning and how it applied to my life and my season. A group of friends who were there when I lost my birth dad. Our shared interest was to become more rooted in our faith and to find life-long connections.
Today I can saying that my 2021 goal to be more rooted is well underway.
It’s one of the first times I have set a “Word of the Year,” and seen the fruits of my labor so quickly. This goal paired with the compassion the pandemic has brought out has made me feel whole.
It’s brought me joy and because of it I am learning to be a more patient parent and an improved person.
I have learned that true self-care for your soul actually comes from putting others first. That true happiness doesn’t come from the perfect house, the perfect car, or even the perfect day, because any day with growth is a great day.
Most of all, whether intentional or not, I have more grace and so much more gratitude.