This is an honest journal entry of how I’m surviving Covid-19 as a a working parent, with two children and a spouse in the medical field. While each of us has different experience, I can only speak to my own. I am wishing everyone, most importantly, health and safety. I can share what works for me, but these are not tips. This is my own personal story through hopefully the worst pandemic we will see in our lifetime.
It’s been six weeks since the City of Philadelphia shut down and we went into quarantine. It’s taken me this long to be able to even attempt to articulate my feelings, struggles and opinions on what is going on in the world and how it’s affecting, my family and the world at large. The day school closed, I walked Bailey home on a sunny Friday as the bell rang and the kids came out screaming that school was cancelled for the next two weeks. She didn’t want to hug her friends goodbye. She was equally excited and scared at this same time.
At first, I thought I was made for this. I love staying home. I love to cook. I love having everyone in the house safe and sound.
Joey, who’s a Psychiatrist, and I knew that quarantining for too long would have negative effects on our mental health. We wrote about how to reduce those effects, here. Yet the grasp of something we have never encountered in our lives, was still out of reach to be understood 30 days ago.
We knew to limit news intake. We knew to stay connected online. Yet reduction and avoidance are two very different things. The effects of this, involuntarily participating in a global pandemic, cannot be avoided completely. Some have handled it better than others. Some hours for that matter, are better than others. The deep empathy that I have often prohibits me from watching the news in general. I absorb, I worry about strangers, I mourn the death of strangers, I let the fear of dying and loved ones dying, in. It doesn’t mean it’s stayed in, but every so often through these six weeks, it’s reared it’s ugly head into me. As this is our current reality, it’s hard to shake. COVID-19 has gotten the best of me. And we haven’t even gotten to the stress of Quarantine yet.
I’ve left the house 3 times to go to grocery store in the past six weeks. Each of those times I would drive, get in my car and listen to music and think ahhhh this is great. Within 5 minutes I’m surrounded by people wearing masks while running and walking. We go on walks daily and I found myself saying to my toddler “we need to stay away from people”. What? We need to stay away from people? This is exact opposite of everything I believe and everything I want for her.
I believe in connection, community, making friendships, saying hello to neighbors. She’s not old enough to understand the why but her mother right now is teaching her to stay away from others. While I’ve adjusted my language, I worry if this goes on for too long what type of impact this will have on my kids. In the grocery store, people stay away from each other, masks are also affecting our eye contact, we are afraid… of each other.
On Easter, one of the girls got purple ink on my white couch and that was the straw. The straw that opened up the real waterworks, the anger and sadness of not being able to control the things I can’t control. Of not knowing when this would end. Of not knowing, regardless of how many precautions were are taking, if all will be okay.
I am scared. I am angry.
I worry for the medical community. I worry for families. I worry for everyone.
Can we talk about another type of hero right now? The stay at home mother. I stayed at home for 4 months when I had my first daughter, I tried it. It was too hard. I RAN back to work. I don’t know how stay at home moms do it. I hope the nation full appreciates the workload that a stay at home mom does every single moment of the day post COVID-19.
Career has always been very important to me and what helps me thrive. My career is client facing. For the first two weeks, I did the most. I went all in. Several client meetings a day, internal meetings, business development, you name it, I was on it all while juggling two kids with a spouse physically going to work. I’m here to tell you, it could not be sustained. I read every blog, book, news article on how to work from home with kids. I laughed at the online videos, took client calls from my closet, let my toddler climb all over my laptop like a small cat but here is the thing: we cannot do both. We can not full time parent, homeschool and work. It’s just not possible. At least not well.
It’s just not possible. At least not well.
With routines out of whack and missing their school environment, my children do the best they can with not knowing how to share or articulate their feelings. From regression to frustration, we’ve seen a full range of feelings in my house hold all of which are expected and okay.
In our city, the school year has been canceled as many states are doing around the US. A gap is learning is absolutely possible as school district work to regroup online. Online learning, is extremely tough for the grade school generation, let alone a toddler. My older one loves to see her friends on camera but completing course work is a challenge online. My toddler isn’t interested in the camera or laptop what-so-ever and personally, it’s laughable that some of these communities although well intentioned, think that it’s reality that toddlers will want to engage DAILY via virtual and charge money for it. Besides an episode or two of Cosmic Yoga, she’s not interested. My older daughter in the height of second grade reading, writing and math may see stagnant growth. Each day I’m faced with the decision, do I force her into online learning or do I let her play outside and snuggle close?
Each night she asks me, “So what are we going to do tomorrow?” and the next day is mostly the same.
The death toll climbs. Yet, in just a few short weeks, we are expecting to go into the first phase of reopening the state. The state of Georgia began to reopen last week. The scientific models show how a sharp turn in deaths will take place when states reopen too early. Scientists, Doctors and Disease Specialists are warning of a second wave of pandemic. So why the fuck are we talking about reopening the country?
I’m not here to argue politics. I want out of my small trinity home in Philadelphia, trust me. I’m concerned and fear for most, if not all small businesses, restaurants and flourishing economic communities, there is no question our country is economically suffering. This is actual matter of life and death that has occurred in our nation, leaves me wondering why many aren’t treating it as so. Why I see neighbors gathering along my street, why I see photos of Rittenhouse Square being jam packed on a sunny Saturday or thousands flocking the city to see the Fly Over.
Hello? Has most of the United States not gotten them memo?
It’s okay if you’re productive. It’s okay if you’re sitting at home doing nothing. It’s okay if every day looks different. You do you.
From now and until the foreseeable future, I’ll be #safeathome, juggling a family and the privilege to attempt to work from home and working to continually find the light in each day.