A note from Rach Smith's digital garden

2020 - Shadow and Light

Added: January 1, 2021

Tags: wellbeing work mothering

I can’t review 2020 without first acknowledging the immense amount of privilege I have benefitted from, in this year that has been challenging for so many. I live in Queensland, Australia, which has had some of the best outcomes re COVID-19 in the entire world. We had proper social restrictions in place for 2 months only. We don’t need to wear masks and can mostly enjoy our usual lifestyles. We currently have 13 active cases in the entire State. Andy and I kept our jobs this year, with a small decrease in income. I do not take my good fortune for granted, and I am so grateful for the blessing of living where I am and working in the industry I do.


COVID-19The pandemic was obviously the most significant cause of stress this year. While they were active in my State, social restrictions were tough to deal with while raising a toddler. I also felt general anxiety around me or my family catching the virus as I was newly pregnant and my mother in law is in an at-risk group. I watched friends in Australia lose their jobs and felt pretty inadequate around what I could do to help them. I was horrified to see the US succumb to the virus, as I have dear friends and colleagues living there (after living there myself semi-recently). I was equally frustrated seeing fellow Australians fail to understand the seriousness of the virus, or how fortunate we are to be in our position.

PregnancyI don’t enjoy being pregnant, with nausea, exhaustion, constant back pain, extreme weight gain and growing into the size of a house to fit a 10lb baby. People have talked about how time made no sense in 2020. I honestly felt like I was pregnant for about 2 years.

Struggling with screen addictionLooking back on my journals throughout the year, I am constantly berating myself for spending too much time numbing out on my phone. After years of struggling to set boundaries for myself around screen use, I was sick of my own nonsense, but still struggling to make meaningful change. I finally started making some headway at the end of the year, but having a newborn (and all the sitting around breastfeeding and contact napping) has caused me to backslide in my screen time habits. I’ve made my way back from unhealthy dependencies before (alcohol, caffeine) but screen time and internet use has been the hardest. I am determined to not have another year of being disappointed in myself around this.


Falling pregnant, and the birth of our second babyI had been wanting (to the point of obsessing over) a new baby for several months before we were blessed with this child. Welcoming them to the world was the best part of my year.

CodePenIt feels uncomfortable to benefit from circumstances that have devastated others. Still, CodePen the business experienced an increase in revenue due to the rise in people working or learning remotely. This means my sense of job security actually increased this year. In January, I felt a little bit of a 4-year itch or a bit tired of working on the same codebase for so long. Then there was a change in the leadership dynamic, and my bosses worked their hardest to bring our stack kicking and screaming into 2020. The change in developer experience and seeing our velocity improve 5x as a result has made this year just as enjoyable as my first year there, when everything was exciting and new.

Kitchen RemodelI spend a fair chunk of my week cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. When we bought it, the kitchen that came with this house made no sense from a layout perspective and had seriously limited storage options for the square footage it took up. I had a kitchen designer come and remodel it to something that is much more functional. It was a massive quality of life improvement, and we used all local businesses for design and construction. It felt good to “shop small” in a period when many local businesses were struggling.

AndyMy husband is the light of my every year. He makes me want to be a better person and get up and keep trucking when the days of parenting, working, and household management feel relentless. He could make me laugh and lift my mood even when I felt I was sinking into the collective trauma of this year. I would choose him over and over again to be my comrade in the good times and bad.


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