Pockets of Joy in the Longest Year

One year ago, I woke up and the day started out somewhat normal. Morning school drop-off, a few errands for PTO to set up a teacher/staff appreciation event, an hour or two of consulting work, school pick-up… then things started changing. My dad called to tell me that one of my very favorite people had passed away after a long health battle. Friends began texting me about toilet paper and extended spring break. The memes with giant wine glasses started… within days, the world was a different place.

As the year anniversary of COVID approached, I polled my fellow Kansas City Mom Collective contributors to collect their thoughts on the past year. The comments gravitate toward one of three buckets —
1. Remember going places? That was fun.
2. Things got weird fast.
3. This has sucked, but we found joy.

Remember going places? That was fun.

Molly Williamson
On March 7th, I was in Austin, Texas, for a bachelorette party. We walked out of a bar and heard all the bartenders talking about how SXSW was being cancelled due to COVID. The flight home was typical, but a few random flyers were wearing masks.”

Laura Mulcahyfamily at Disney World
Last year at this time, we were enjoying a magical trip in Disney. Just a few short weeks later the world stopped. Months into the pandemic and staying home I realized how very lucky we were to have gotten that trip in with so many memories made.”

Megan Coffey
My two best friends and I went out to dinner because we had heard restaurants were shutting down. I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now — who knows when I’ll be in a restaurant again.

Jen ChristensenTwo boys on their birthday
On Sunday, March 15, 2020, we went to our best friends’ house to celebrate our boys’ birthdays which are a day apart. I haven’t been inside their house since that day.”

Kristin Ruthstrom
I went out on a girls dinner and most of our conversation was wondering if this would be the last time we’d be eating out in a restaurant for a while and all the other things that could be happening soon. Turns out, that was the last time in a year. Good thing I ordered the extra margarita.”

Claire Reagana crowded luncheon about women in leadership
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, I attended a luncheon about women in leadership. A crowded room where we all ate, chatted, and listened. Then, the world stopped.


Things got weird fast.

Jennifer Johnson
Last March I went to Arizona for a family funeral and the world was normal. Just 4 days later, I came home to stores with no toilet paper.”

Julia Willhiteempty store shelves
A year ago, I wondered aloud on Facebook about stocking up on a few things just in case what was happening in Washington state would spread to Kansas. Friends were incredulous and laughed at my concern but I bought TP at Costco in February just in case and it lasted 6 months!

Amber Pauline
The weeks leading up to our March 21 wedding were filled with increasingly shocking headlines. Every day, I made more changes: Canceled the reception, the meal, the cake. Figured out how to stream close family and friends online. We officially became a blended family with only my mom, a minister, and a photographer in attendance and we came home to the Governor’s announcement that our world was shutting down.”

This has sucked, but we found joy.

Claire Reaganpic of two kids and their dad
I long for the normalcy… but I am so grateful for the forced slowdown. While the last year has been one of tragedy and loss on many levels, I will hold close to my heart the memories our family made.”

Julie Breithaupt
“This last year has been a blur of crisis, hard decisions, an incredible amount of bike riding, and the Quarantine 15 and then some. We are surviving, maybe not thriving, but we are okay. And I’ve never been so happy to be just OK.”

Amber Paulinepic of couple dancing at their wedding
We navigated our way through the challenges of joining two households with five kids while under quarantine, and I truly believe we are closer because of it.

Courtney Lewis
I don’t want to say there has been an ‘upside’ to a year where nearly half a million Americans died and countless more globally. But I will say I found the pockets of joy more meaningful and felt them more deeply. Kid riding a bike without training wheels, lots more family hikes, two straight weeks at my mom’s over the summer, kid learning to fully read, developing a strong friendship with our neighbors. I cherish those things and realize how lucky we are in our family.

Molly Williamsontwo moms and little boy wearing masks
While the world has been on fire, I have been able to slow down, enjoy my family, and save money. Thankful to still have our jobs and earning a steady income.”

As another March slides by, I am so grateful for the increasing vaccination statistics, the return of gorgeous weather, daydreams of returning to some kind of normal…

What are your feelings after this, the longest of years?

Born & raised in the KC metro, I now live in OP with my husband, 8yo son, goofy Golden mix & grouchy geriatric cat. After graduating from KU & spending over a decade as a buttoned-up corporate person, I quit my job, pierced my nose & hunkered down to raise a kiddo. Here we are, 6 years later, & I love spending my days writing, volunteering & planning our next far-flung adventure.


  1. For such an odd year, it has flown by in my little world. We missed out on a ton of fun things we had planned, lost three family members (age, not covid), homeschooling was a nightmare while trying to run a business, and many nights were spent worrying about our world.

    My husband’s life only changed slightly, so he didn’t understand my frustrations being home and the house looking 50 times worse than normal. Don’t worry, I straightened him out. But, it is a weird dynamic when one person’s life changes so dramatically and the other only has to wear a mask at work and that’s their only daily change.

    My kids spent more time with me this year than ever in their lives, and as they grow in their preteen and teen years, I’m grateful to be able to be there more, especially during this tough school year. Even though I’ve loved being with them so much, part of me feels like it’s been the kids and me vs Hubby. This stinks for hubby.

    The dogs have loved covid more than anyone, though. Them, and every grocery store ever. I’ve never cooked so much in my life. It’s not as bad as I was making it out to be! Change is interesting when forced instead of self driven. I think that’s been experienced by most people this past year.

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