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Life in the age of a pandemic

How’s it going out there? What are you up to? 

Oh, me? I’m okay.

I’m usually a stay at home mom, who now just stays at home all the time with both my kids. I’ve lost that saving grace aka preschool, which used to guarantee three solid hours of my oldest being educated and cared for by professionals.

My kids don’t understand why we FaceTime so much, why we exchange things with loved ones in an awkward dance on our porch. We don’t make promises anymore about plans with friends or trips to the park. On walks I carry hand sanitizer because no matter how many times you tell a five year old not to touch anything, he will forget and accidentally run his finger along a chain link fence. We don’t go on walks anymore because people don’t know what six feet apart means. I don’t like feeling like I’m in a game of chicken to see who will flinch first. Inevitably, I walk off into the ditch while the other person holds their ground.

Every cough, every sneeze, and every runny nose puts us on high alert. And if you know us at all you know our family has had SO many colds this past year. Before we are entirely over one we were onto another. My son came down with something the week after we took him out of school. Was it a coincidence that he picked up a common cold or had he incubated something deadly? Knock on wood, we’ve been the healthiest ever since he stopped going to school.

I recognize how good we have it. Nick already worked remotely and he can continue to do so safely from our attic .I didn’t have a job outside of the home to lose or a job I must now try to do while also caring for my kids. Our overall security hasn’t changed, but everything feels different. Scary. Uncertain. Risky.  

The messages don’t make sense. They say, “Stay home.” Only leave the house for essentials. But my Instagram is filled with local businesses encouraging our patronage in these tough times. Pizza has been deemed a necessity, but what about cake? Is there room for frivolity? The stakes feel so high. I’m a reasonably good cook and I don’t need someone to make me dinner, but damn it sure is nice. Coffee is my love language. Is a once-a-week coffee reckless or am I single-handedly keeping a mom and pop shop afloat, thus making me a true patriot?!?

I reach out to friends and family via text, different chat groups, Instagram, Facebook. Those little pings of communication are a lifeline to the outside world, a reminder that I’m not alone, and that when this is all over, we will hopefully all see each other again. Even if a relationship is a little broken, I have no intention of discarding it at a time like this. I’ll patch it up with tape and hope it’s enough to see us through.

It feels awkward to ask if I can call, especially those friends who I’ve gotten out of the regular habit of talking to, like I’m admitting how weak I am that I need a pep-talk to get through a very banal day. I hope that my vulnerability and willingness to try is encouraging for them, too. Maybe it’s permission they didn’t know they needed to reach out and ask for help. I’m here. I’m home. All the damn time.

I see my parents with a backyard between us. But we’re negotiating those terms, and I’m terrified. My mother says if it’s her time, it’s her time. This doesn’t placate me in the slightest.

People say they’re willing to risk it all to get their hair done/eat at a restaurant/see their grandkids/fill in the blank. No one says they’re willing to suffer an awful, painful, slow death to fill in the blank. No one says they’re willing to witness the suffering of others, but that’s what we’re doing when we expect normal life to resume. And we want 20% off with free delivery.

One Comment

  1. Teri Teri

    I’m glad you’re all home and safe! Having Nick already set-up to work remotely is a big plus. Loved: “And we want 20% off with free delivery.”

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