The Next Steps for a Pandemic Mama

Well here we are. Last Saturday I spoke with a nurse from Kaiser because I was experiencing fatigue, a low grade fever and muscle aches. I wanted a Covid-19 test so that I could hug my babies again without fear. The nurse urged me to be patient: “We aren’t conducting tests this weekend. I’m going to write a note to your doctor and I suggest calling the advice line Monday morning to schedule one. Hang in there. We’re living history right now.”

I’ve heard that phrase a lot since the start of the pandemic. We’re living history. It feels strange, confusing, stressful and exhausting to be living history. I’m tired of the memes, the fun activities to try at home with your kids!, and the cortisol spiking headlines. I wish I lived in a country which had managed to flatten the curve instead of this one. Yesterday while listening to NPR in the car my six year old said, “Mama, if they were experts, I’d listen to them.” My SIX YEAR OLD! Wtf America, but I digress. This is where we are right now. We’ve turned 6, 37, and 3 without goody bags or bouncy castles; we sang Happy Birthday on Zoom.

My eldest is supposed to start first grade on August 12, and I’ve made the decision to homeschool him. While the school district he attends has assured parents that the distance learning offered beginning next month will be different from the “emergency” type of distance learning that took place last spring, I don’t see the point in having him taught by a teacher on a screen when I can do it myself, in person. It know it won’t be easy, but I also know that my family will be happier if we can pull this off. It’s time to accept that this isn’t a dystopian nightmare Netflix series that I can switch off. This is actually happening. It’s time for me to move forward and ‘lean in’ to my new role of Headmaster (yes we have been listening to a lot of Harry Potter lately).

Along with the new ability to bake banana bread this pandemic has taught me gratitude. I am very very thankful for the freedom of choice regarding my childrens’ education which my privileged, stay at home mom situation, provides me. Am I tired? Yes. Am I stressed about the world? Yes. Am I wracked with guilt and depression every time I check social media or the news? Yes. Are there nights where I can’t sleep unless I’m listening to podcasts? Yes. Am I worried that my three year old will spend the rest of his life thinking everyone who wears a mask has “the virus”? Yes!

At the same time, the relentless darkness has forced me to treasure the moments of light I experience throughout our historic days. Does my heart fill whenever my sons hug and confess their love for each other? Yes. Did I hold back tears the first time my boys got to kiss their grandpa in five months? Yes. Did the first time I felt sand between my toes after the lockdown feel just like fifteen years ago when I flew to the Bahamas in the dead of NYC winter and gazed upon turquoise waters for the first time? Yes!

It’s ok to be scared and devastated by what we have lost so far, but it’s also ok to feel joy and gratitude. I am savouring the moments of beauty I’m fortunate enough to experience alongside my chosen quarantine pod.

In case you were wondering, Kaiser managed to come through and provided me with a Covid-19 test. It came back negative but the test hurt like a Pap smear in your nose.

Mom, writer, yogi, beach bum, former expat from the SGV

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