Song 05 - These Four Walls. Click to explore themes and stories relating to this song.

What was parenting like in 2020?

Stories and Remembrances


In our story collection, we heard from one group of people who had a very particular experience of 2020: parents, who had a lot to say about how this past year uniquely shaped the experience of family life.

From the parents of young kids who were suddenly thrust into … 
— trying to manage their work-from-home jobs as well as their kids’ online schooling
— or scrambling for child care while they had to show up for their in-person essential work 
— or just never getting a break from the constant togetherness; (click to continue reading)

to parents of older kids who mourned with them the losses of milestone experiences of transitioning into adulthood … 
— no college tours
— no graduation ceremonies from high school or college
— no first jobs.

Every family, in some way, experienced a total upheaval of what they had expected the year to look like, and bore hardships they wouldn’t have known how to foresee or plan for before 2020.  

Parents shared with us about how hard it was for them to see their kids experience social isolation, and to watch them long for activities like going to school, playing sports, and having birthday parties. 

And also … they shared with us about how resilient their kids were.
How they figured out how to adapt to the new normal, even when it was a struggle to do so.
How they faced the challenges of the time and embraced the unusual opportunities this strange time offered.
We heard from a lot of very proud parents of kids who grew ever more into awesome young humans this last year, despite — and in some cases because of — the obstacles and trials of living through a pandemic. 

And we also heard about the increased frequency of dinners around the kitchen table together.
And movie nights.
And board games.
And lots of deep conversation, and lots of laughter. 

There was a lot about this time that will unequivocally shape the adults that these kids are becoming. And so much that will indelibly mold the character of the families who went through this fire together. 

How do you parent a child through a circumstance with which you don’t have any personal experience? I mean, not only was the coronavirus itself novel to the human population, the experience of a global pandemic was a novel one for every person on the planet as well. Parents shared with us what a unique opportunity it was for them to be able to teach and model — in real time — good mental health practices for their kids, as everyone in the house was experiencing the same uncertainty, discomfort, change, sadness, and overload at the same time. 

From quotes like,

“Trust me, there’s plenty of tension, and days when I can’t wait to get the hell out of the house,” to
“I wouldn’t trade the time we’ve had together this past year for anything,” to
“My son was my greatest source of hardship and my greatest source of joy this last year,”

… it’s clear that for parents and kids, 2020 was a year of learning how to live with often conflicting truths about the people we live with and love. 

When everything that matters most to you in life is suddenly bottled up together under one roof, it can seem sometimes as though the bubbling effervescence of life contained in that space might threaten to blow that roof right off. And, also … it can feel like the crystallization of a unique, unforgettable, and precious time.

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I can see that you’re sad
Stuck inside and detached
Wish that I had good advice to give
Truth is we’re all winging this

Watching as a year goes
Missing all the milestones
I’d replace all you have lost, but god
For the young, when time is gone it’s gone
The time is gone (click to continue reading)

Here we are, together in these four walls
None of this is going how it’s supposed to
And I don’t have a precedent to point to
Here we are, making the best of it all
Suddenly the world reduced in size
But everything that matters fits inside
These four walls

Barely room for moving
Here under one roof with
All our big feelings exposed and no
Other place for them to go

Laughter in the kitchen
Riding out the whirlwind
We’re a ship sailing uncharted seas
Treasure from this trek is ours to keep
What we found in the deep
Is ours to keep

Here we are, together in these four walls
You’re my everything, but this is tough when
We don’t get a break, and none is coming
Here we are, making the best of it all
We won’t forget this strange and sacred time
When everything that matters fit inside
These four walls

Here we are, together in these four walls
This isn’t how we planned it
We have everything that matters
Here we are, making the best of it all
This isn’t how we planned it
We have everything that matters
In these four walls

words and music by Shannon Curtis
published by Shannon K (ASCAP)
all rights reserved; lyrics reprinted by permission

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If you have a story to share about parenting in 2020, please send it to Jamie at jamie@misfitstars.com.

  • adam d.
    I feel deeply for all the families struggling through the pandemic, but having my daughter with me for school-at-home has actually given me one of the best years I can remember. I’ve worked at home most of my life, first as a musician, now as a writer and designer. I feel lucky to be a… Continue reading adam d.
  • marilyn a.
    My 23-year-old son lost his job and had to move home. I empathized with his feelings on the outside, but jumped for joy at the blessing of having him home to “mother” again (if only temporarily) and gulp in each and every wonderful minute on the inside!
  • anonymous
    Hard: ZOOM CLASSES. Our ADHD kid had enough meltdowns over this to where we had to transfer them to an independent study program just so they didn’t have to be locked into that inflexible and inefficient algorithm. (I couldn’t stand it either, would’ve done the same in their place growing up.) Also tough: helping them… Continue reading anonymous
  • diane h.
    I have a 6 year old. The preschool closed, and we were destroyed seeing her stuck at home. She had no kids to play with, nothing to do. Having no routine was rough. My husband and I are both disabled and stay at home, and our apartment is studio-sized, so it’s close quarters for us.… Continue reading diane h.
  • anonymous
    I got an unexpected bonus in the pandemic. My 24-year-old daughter had both her jobs put on hold. She started calling me, every single day! Prior to that, she called maybe once every month or two, and texted maybe once every 7-10 days (for four and a half years!). It was the best part of… Continue reading anonymous
  • robin b.
    Parenting has been really difficult. I think the hardest thing has been trying to co-parent with my ex-husband. Back in Spring 2020, Jason’s Dad was taking him back and forth to Pennsylvania every week. So Jason would spend a week in PA and then a week in NYC. Jason was such a trouper. Plus, we… Continue reading robin b.
  • joyce r.
    We have been fortunate to have our sons, daughter-in-law and granddaughter living with us. It has been a blessing getting to watch our granddaughter grow and change through her first year, witnessing all those special moments.
  • kate b.
    For the first time ever, I got to be a stay-at-home mom with my kids. And they were 16 and 18 at the time. It was ideal for me, and I’m glad I got that time with them.
  • erica k.
    Parenting during a pandemic is 100% total and complete exhaustion. I also have a special needs child, so this is just beyond anything. It’s hard, and laborious, but also, I’m grateful. We are able to go through the trenches together. I’ve always valued time with my children. I’ve watched their bond grow. I’ve been thankful… Continue reading erica k.
  • leslie h.
    I cannot describe in words the roller coaster of emotions from having two kids yanked from preschool without notice, to being home all summer, to having to field questions about whether they’d get to go to kindergarten … to taking them out for a bike ride and hearing “There sure are a lot of people… Continue reading leslie h.
  • terry b.
    Our son and his girlfriend left college early due to the pandemic. They went through the process, but graduated almost three months early! They came to live with us, which doubled our bills and our cleaning efforts. It was frustrating that they didn’t meet our expectations to help, while playing the waiting game for apartment… Continue reading terry b.
  • valerie b.
    I feel like this year has just been a process of putting one foot in front of the other … just keep moving. Parenting a 13 year old has been one of the easier parts, although I’ve had frustrations with trying to make sure he’s turning in school assignments (not something I’ve ever had to… Continue reading valerie b.
  • kelly s.
    My children learned to like my homemade food, and stopped asking to eat out. My older child has also developed a lot of patience and grit.
  • anonymous
    Hard: 4/5 year-old’s therapies were all online. Which means I have to assist and that did not go well. Especially related to communication. She requires a paraeducator. That became me. No ability for anyone but my mom and partner to help. Her disability makes the world often inaccessible, so everything with ADA considerations shutting down… Continue reading anonymous
  • alissa d.
    Too much time together. Now I don’t want it to end. Anxiety-filled sleep. Cuddled up with my sweet girl. Beginning of the pandemic, still changing diapers. End of the pandemic, fully potty trained, sleepovers at Nana’s house. Hoping trying wanting another baby. Glad I could have wine in 2020. Impossible to think of a future… Continue reading alissa d.