To my kids, let’s make the lessons of 2020 last

To: My Kids To Read One Day Down The Road

From: Taneisha Cantave

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For my kids to read one day down the road,

Throughout this past year, 2020, you have asked me many times to go to the park and most of the time I’ve said “No.” Unlike years prior, this year, we can only go to the park when no one else is there. It’s a rare occasion, so when you do get the chance to ride your sled down the hill or play on the monkey bars, your faces light up. It is a magical moment for all of you.

Right now, it’s the day before Christmas Eve, 2020.  Gabby, you are seven. Ava, you are five and Amiyah  you are just one year old. I am writing this to you because even though I cried more tears than I would have liked this year, I also learned important lessons, including where you can find magic. And no matter how old you are, I want you to always remember where you can feel and find magic.

In December of last year, you, Amiyah, were born. A few weeks later, you contracted RSV, which is pretty much the common cold. But because you were so young, it knocked you off your feet. You were on a ventilator. I was scared to death. After a couple of days, you got better and I was so relieved. I came into 2020 feeling great, believing it was about to be an incredible year. However, on my maternity leave, I started to hear about the coronavirus, a new illness that was spreading rapidly. The world began to shut down to slow the spread of the virus, leaving many people, myself included, in shock.  

I came into 2020 feeling great, believing it was about to be an incredible year. However, on my maternity leave, I started to hear about the coronavirus, a new illness that was spreading rapidly.

When COVID-19 became more and more disruptive in our society, I tried to shield all three of you from some of our family’s more difficult moments. Besides my job as a social worker, I work as a college and youth travel volleyball coach. Both those jobs have been in jeopardy throughout the pandemic. Also, your great aunt, who lived in Atlanta, contracted COVID and passed away. We couldn’t have a proper life celebration, which was excruciatingly difficult.

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As the numbers continued to rise and more people started to get sick, I did my best to prevent you from feeling extreme fear. I tried to balance allowing you to be kids while still protecting you from the virus. However, you have been well aware and certainly affected by what’s happened in the world during 2020.

You can’t go to school. You keep asking when we are going to go on a vacation again. You understand that you can’t touch everything. You have to wash your hands frequently and you can’t play with your friends or see our extended family as often as you did in years past.

On top of that, we saw horrific acts of social injustice and the outrage that followed the unjust killings of black people in this country.

Despite all of these challenges, our family made it through the year and we’ve grown a lot in the process.

We adapted to our circumstances, hosting a much smaller-than-usual Thanksgiving dinner. We used TikTok to give us ideas on staying entertained, experimenting with new arts and crafts projects and baking fancy cookies. Instead of seeing our family and friends in person, we started to use Facetime and Snapchat a lot more.

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Gabby and Ava, you were old enough to get a greater understanding of the world around you. You saw me make signs as I joined the millions of people across the country, protesting the injustice against black people. When I bought Black Lives Matter shirts, I requested shirts in your sizes as well. You asked a lot of hard questions:

“Why do people not like us because of the color of our skin?”

“Will someone hurt us, too?”

“Why are people dying?”

While I would love to keep your minds pure and stress-free forever, I also felt it was important to be honest with you.  

We started doing affirmations, where you say statements like, “I am black and I am beautiful” or “I am smart.” 

Hopefully, this year laid the foundation for you to be both confident in who you are but also strong when advocating for what is right.

Also, I hope you learned that no matter your circumstance, you must always give back. 

Taneisha has three young daughters

Every year, we make holiday packages. We put together hygiene bags that consists of essentials like shower gel, food and tampons and we pass them out to those in need. This year was no different, other than the fact that the bags also included masks and hand sanitizers.  

2020 was a year filled with challenges but in many ways, we still thrived, spending a lot more time cuddling, watching movies and working together to navigate our way through all the obstacles that this year presented. We truly are very lucky.

That’s why on Christmas, I won’t be thinking about the adversity we faced in 2020 or the pain that came with it.  Instead, I will live in the moment, taking in all the love and joy that our family shares and the memories we have the opportunity to create.

2020 made me realize that all I want is good health, family, spirituality and stability. Anything else is the icing on the cake. I have let go of grudges, and I have decided when life returns to normal, I will live life to the fullest – taking trips, meeting up with friends, spending time with all of you and going after whatever interests me.

Like most people, I can’t wait for 2020 to be over, but I hope as a family, the knowledge we gained this year always stays with us. Tomorrow is not promised and sometimes today isn’t the way you planned. But this year showed us even when it feels like a spell has been cast on the whole world, life can still be magical IF you choose to appreciate what it has to offer.

If you ever lose the magic, gratitude will help you find your way.

I love you,

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