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The Mom Stop column: Let’s end ‘worst year ever’ on a high note

Lydia Seabol Avant
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The Rolla Daily News

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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There’s a phrase my 5-year-old utters several times a week, if not daily. It happens when her iPad shuts down unexpectedly.

“This is the worst day EVER!” she’ll proclaim.

Or when she can’t find a shoe to go outside and play.

“Ugh! This is the worst day EVER!” she will sigh.

Or when we have just run out of her favorite kind of cereal.

“WORST day EVER!” she’ll say.

Granted, within minutes of her proclamations of it being the “worst” day, our little drama queen is happily doing something else, distracted, and the day has become well again. But I have felt her penchant for extremes lately, since 2020 seems to get worse as the year goes on.

Worst year ever.

It seemed bad enough when the pandemic struck. Businesses and schools around the world had to shut down to attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In our home, we dealt with working from home, while also schooling from home.

Worst year ever.

But then it got worse, as more people got sick. Businesses have reopened, and schools are starting to reopen as well, but unemployment is still at 8.4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Businesses have shuttered across the U.S. after a lack of customers because of the pandemic.

Worst year ever.

And while, as a society, we practice social distancing and many of us wear masks and take safeguards to try to stop the spread of the disease - and it’s working, in many areas - people are still getting sick and dying. Families and friends are left to deal with the loss. Last week, the U.S. reached the unimaginable milestone of 200,000 lives lost to COVID-19. In perspective, that’s about twice the capacity of the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium. That’s about four times the amount of U.S. service members who died in combat during the Vietnam War. It’s only about 91,000 fewer deaths than the total number of American soldiers who died in World War II.

Worst year ever.

And then there are the notable Americans who have died this year, not COVID-related. When John Lewis died, he left a legacy of remarkable leadership and an inspiring change that left a void difficult to fill. I met him last year when he was speaking at the University of Alabama, and during that visit he urged people to make “good trouble” and to stand up for what is right. It’s a message we need to hear, especially this year.

It seemed things couldn’t get much worse, but then on Sept. 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of complications from pancreatic cancer. I was downstairs folding laundry and watching TV with my kids when my husband shouted from the second floor landing “LYDIA!

Have you seen the news?” I knew it was something big. Our 11-year-old daughter shot a look at me and ran to the foyer to ask what had happened.

“RBG died,” he shouted.

My heart dropped: 2020 just got even worse. I will be forever thankful for her service to this country, her decisions on the court and her example of leadership, which demonstrated what women can become.

Worst year ever.

But something I tell my kids, especially my youngest child when she is having the “worst day ever” is to look for the good, to think of the positives.

While 2020 has admittedly been difficult for all of us, and definitely worse for some than others, what good has happened? We are still alive. In my family, we still have jobs and food on the table. My kids are still being educated, even if it’s not full-time in a classroom yet.

There are still laughs and smiles, even if they are behind masks when we are in public. We still have a roof over our heads and air in our lungs. And 2020 isn’t over yet.

So rather than focusing on 2020 being the “worst year ever” my question is, what can we do to turn it around and make it better? And what can you do, to improve the life of someone else or make their day a little happier? The year isn’t over yet. I’m hoping we can end it on a high note.

Otherwise, there’s always 2021.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reach her at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com.