Parenting through Today’s Complexities – Coronavirus Edition

2020 is already half over and I feel like both so much and so little has happened. The world and certainly this country is in turmoil. My family is in turmoil. A recent tragedy prompted my idea for this blog. Out of immense respect for family privacy, I won’t go into detail except to say you can never know what’s in someone’s mind. People can feel things and mask them so deeply that you just don’t know.  I know I have felt some pretty awful things in my life, most of which is unfortunately compounded by my anxiety disorder.  

All of these feelings and all of these things going on in the world right now makes our jobs as parents that much more important – and that much harder.

Let’s start with COVID-19. It’s still a thing, even for those of you who are over it.  This past week my kiddos started back at daycare. That decision was one we struggled with so much, keeping me up night after night for easily weeks. You can’t teach a 2-year-old to social distance. The first thing Holden did when he walked in last week was to run straight to all of his friends and give them hugs. You can barely teach a 4-year-old to social distance. Travis understands “the stupid virus” is the reason he was out of daycare for 3 months, he understands it’s the reason he stood 6 feet away from any family that visited, he understands that it’s the reason that he couldn’t play baseball or take swim lessons. But even he doesn’t understand all the complexities. He doesn’t like wearing his mask – he thinks it’s stupid – but he’s never asked once asked if he cannot wear it.  

Ultimately, my own anxiety and mental health issues are what prompted me to start sending them back – when does mental health outweigh physical health? I’ve done all the research. I know that they are at a relatively low risk being at daycare because it’s a small in-home daycare where our providers are taking the proper precautions. I also know (or at least tell myself everyday) that none of the other families are going to take unnecessary risks that would harm their own children. I sent them back because I knew it was going to be a rough transition when I get back to work and I wanted to ease them into it. I think I made the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I don’t question it every hour of everyday. 

We also bought and sold a house this month, which was scary every step of the way. Even though we did a large portion of it virtually and I spent time sanitizing every surface and doorknob after anyone came in this house, I still felt anxiety. But with interest rates at the lowest they’ve ever been and the seller’s market we’ve fallen into – it’s extremely possible we wouldn’t have gotten a chance otherwise to make this leap until my student loans are paid off in 10 years. So we did it. 

Then where is the line drawn? That’s the tricky part, I suppose.  Who do we extend our bubble to? For now, we’ve still limited our contact with as many people as possible, making few exceptions with other people we know have also limited their contact, like my in-laws. We don’t dine into restaurants, we limit grocery store trips, non-grocery items are still purchased through Amazon or picked up at Target drive up. I won’t step foot on an airplane for a while and I certainly won’t be visiting the gym or the mall. And I’ll continue to carry my hand sanitizer in my purse and be donning my Orioles mask like it’s an extension of my face.

Why? Because I won’t be responsible for putting my children in harm’s way. I told Jeremy that I hate how “the worst thing that’s ever happened” keeps getting replaced on my list, but two things that are still up there are the biggest reasons that I can’t afford to be lackadaisical with the seriousness of coronavirus. The first is the time that Travis had croup so bad that as he was struggling to breath sleeping between us, he looked at me and in the smallest voice I ever heard said, ‘mommy, I just want to breathe’.   And still in the top slot is the night I held my 6-month-old baby as he had a febrile seizure in my arms. The night that even for just the five minutes that it was happening, I thought he was dying, that I could lose him.  Sure, people have experienced much worse things. People have lost their children, parents, siblings – some of those things have happened recently enough that the grief is still thick in the air. But those things are more than enough motivators for me to protect my family – not to mention, what about protecting the other people around me?

So sure, this could be a government conspiracy. People could be exaggerating; they could be inflating the numbers. Maybe the media is overhyping it. And yes, I take risks.  I hugged family I hadn’t seen in a while after a recent tragedy, yes, I’m allowing an inspector and a realtor in my house so that I can sell it. Yes, I took both my kids to the grocery store with me last week.  But that doesn’t mean I’m taking this lightly. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been awake half the night wondering where the line is drawn or what the right thing is.  It just means that I understand that life in some capacity must go on, so to speak, but it’ll certainly look a lot different for us for a while. 

I had planned to address a few ongoing issues in this blog, but I guess I’ll save that for future ones.  And don’t even get me started on the murder hornets.