Murfreesboro Mama: 10 Mistakes I Made in 2020

Jan 02, 2021 at 11:09 am by Laura Beth Payne

OK, let's just go ahead and say it:

Hindsight is 2020. 

There. I feel better now. 

As I came to January 1, I wasn't sure what to write. Sure, there's the general "clean slate" meditations. But coming to 2021, I don't exactly feel a clean slate ahead (even thought that's part of a New Year). To paraphrase the words of Anne Shirly, "Isn't it nice to think it's a new year with no mistakes in it?" And likewise the reply of her guardian Marilla Cuthbert, "I expect you'll make enough of them, yet." 

I feel that.

And yet, maybe even knowing that will help me on this first day of the year, maybe not to make mistakes again, but to grow with them a tiny bit. So here are 10 mistakes-- some funny, some serious-- I made in 2020 (that I hope to learn from).

1. I assumed 2020 would be better than 2019

Every year I think the next year will somehow be magically different or better than the last. In November I was startled by a Facebook memory from 2014 that started off "this year hasn't been real great."

And do you remember that guy who started the Kickstarter to "Save Betty White from 2019"? It was a hard year of losing celebrities many of us loved, and so one person tried to do what we all wanted to-- DO SOMETHING. But while Kickstarter does a lot of good, it doesn't exactly change fate. It didn't change 2019 or 2020, and I think it just irritated Betty White. 

Perspective is everything. More and more I think of January as a wonderful new starting point, but not magically different or better or worse than the previous year.

2. I thought quarantine would last for 2 weeks

Remember in March when most of us thought this would be over in "a few weeks"? I joined a Facebook group called "Memes to Get Us Through" with the jokes flying about all of us "stuck at home" for two weeks. Haha and won't we all be/feel/look/act crazy after being housebound for 14 days? Nine months later we now know we had no idea. 

3. I thought I needed toilet paper

Who would have thought the joke of the year would be toilet paper? At best it was that-- a joke. At worst, it was a telling indicator of what most of us think we "need." I realized more than ever I could choose what to be anxious about, and toilet paper slipped lower and lower on my list. Now I did keep eye on the laundry detergent, but I eventually let the bath tissue issue go. 

3.  I thought being stuck at home would be terrible

When quarantine was declared and my husband came home after scavenging an outlying Wal-Mart for meat and paper products, I felt terror akin to being sent to a bunker: I had to be home. All Day. Every day. With two small children.

Since then I've learned that where there's fear, there's a whole lot of other issues to work through--mindfulness, presence, unrealistic expectations. A few thousand tears, several million words, and a whole lof of music, dancing, crafts, prayer, reading, and closet organization later, I've fallen more in love with my house and people than ever. I still look forward to being out a bit more, but my line of vision came closer to home in a much needed way, and it isn't terrible. At all.

4. I thought homeschooling would be easy

I was homeschooled through high school (with various tutorials and helps along the way), and it was a good experience. My mother was a very organized teacher, so I was pretty sure I could handle preschooling my littles this year with faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust.

Scratch that. Worksheets and daily creativity on demand for two littles scared the daylights out of me more than once.

So I started reading more, taking notice of local and online resources for homeschooling mamas and just.reading.them. Oh, and talking to my veteran homeschool mom friends. My fears calmed and I've learned to relax and have fun with my kids more, and will probably keep it up next year, but I don't have any more fancies about it being exactly easy.

5. I was sure that wearing a mask would be the worst thing ever

I barely wore shoes until I was in middle school for all my complaints that "my feet were hot," and I'm still sensitve to close-fitting clothing or accessories, so wearing a mask felt like further punishment in the quarantine sentencing. It's still not exacly fun and it tends to impede my parental "threat whisper" to my kids when they're misbehaving in public, but it's not a big deal. It seems to help people- me included- not get sick. Also, there are LOTS of comfortable masks out there, thank goodness. And Old Navy.

6. I thought I understood my kids. 

I'm a SAHM with an advanced degree and a lot of professional development in the areas of psychology, self-awareness, and leadership. In 2019 was pretty sure that I had my parenting on lock and any flubups that were happening were kind of my kids' fault.

Being literally at home more this year made me realize I was missing quite a few things in my young children for the sake of being out and about. My girl is a homebody who is happiest creating art. My son is a busy boy who needs to "run off energy," yes, but also lots of cuddles, lots of reading, and someone to help him build with his blocks, not [always] taking him to another event.

This info hasn't come easy to me, but in learning to be together more I'm learning to slow down for my kids, and that's a helpful thing. For all of us.

7. I thought I understood politics, kind of.

I don't really enjoy politics, but this year I was jostled awake to the fact that I was resting on more two-dimensional assumptions than I realized about faith, race, and party. As members of my family and close friends experienced the pain of misunderstanding and being misunderstood (especially on social media), I realized how grateful I am for patient people in my life that talk, ask questions, share their positions, and ask me to as well. We have to keep the political conversations going. 

9.  I thought I didn't really need a church. 

In terms of personality I'm a Myers-Briggs INFJ, and an Enneagram 9 who can swing from an 8 to a 1 as needed to keep everyone happy.  But mostly I have this rich inner life fed by select friends, books, music and musing to the point that I can kid myself that I don't really need help in the spiritual department, thanks very much.

Nix that.

Three weeks into quarantine and I was begging my husband to talk to the pastors of our church to get us into a small study group-- in person or Zoom, I didn't care. I just realized how much I need people consistently speaking truth to me, praying for me, and reminding me that Someone other than me is handling global events.  This year, more than ever, I've been in awe as the pastors at my own church, and the clergy in our city, step up in wise and gracious ways to minister to a sore and hurting people. Like me.

10. I thought I appreciated my city

There's a reason I've never moved from my city-- it's been too good to me-- but I've never been more grateful to be here than this year. For nearly every troubling national headline I found a hopeful local one--whether artists creating beautiful murals, first responders being recognized, business leaders handing out food, or churches meeting the needs of those most isolated.

It reminded me of the power of just giving and investing where you live-- being where your butt is, says Anne Lamott-- and loving the people right in front of you. 

People in our city do that, and I love that.

I have a year full of mistakes to learn from in 2020 (far more than just 10) and plenty more I'll make in 2021. But whatever comes I hope to take the learning and the love with me.  

It's going to be a great year.

Laura Beth Payne is a writer mama and Murfreesboro native who lives in the Blackman community with her husband and two children. Follow her at @murfreesboromama on Facebook and Instagram. Got a column idea? Email her at

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Well said.
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