The COVID-19 pandemic has both helped and hurt our family. I have been able to telecommute for work and spent the most time with my children since I finished my maternity leave. We have created a daily schedule of online schooling, reading, and a LOT of TV watching. The kids’ teachers were SO awesome. They worked so hard to have Zoom pyjama storytimes, online lessons, and even had the school play edited together by the students who recorded their parts and home and then put them together. I have so much respect for our community teachers.
For my work, I have shifted to telecommuting and that has involved a lot of ZOOM meetings. I have also had to learn how to develop contracts for online digital content, and how to run a YouTube page. It has been both thrilling and exhausting to pivot so completely to a virtual world.
We have become very close with our neighbors, who have texted one another to pick up groceries for other neighbors whenever one of us goes out. We even had a neighbor whose bar shut down, so she started taking Venmo orders for wine, and then dropping them off on our doorsteps. I call her my “wine fairy”. We have all made a promise to be in a “quarantine pod” where we all stay outside to play and interact, and we have agreed what kind of outside exposure we are going to have. We have had outside movie nights on the street and front yard (socially distanced) happy hour. We have worked to support community businesses that were struggling, in many different ways. Buying coffee bags from my neighbor whose coffee shop was closed, flour and yeast “baking kits” from the bakery that was shut down, and so much more. Overall, our neighborhood has really pulled together.
On the other hand, my elderly parents have not been able to leave their house due to immunodeficiency. We have to visit them through their windows; we stay in the yard and they talk to us through their window screens. We have been trying to figure out what games we can play through a window screen. (Scattergories and Battleship are good ones.) Recently there was a large fire and they were talking about evacuating the area, and my parents were terrified about having to leave the house for health reasons. I went and stayed in their yard all night until the danger passed, just in case they needed help, but it was a confluence of frightening things.
My mother-in-law is in a nursing home nearby and hasn’t been able to see us for over 3 months. We have only been able to drop off weekly goody bags for her. (She is the recipient of the “wine fairy” gifts). The nursing home wasn’t allowing residents to even leave their rooms for the first 3 months of sheltering in place. We weren’t even allowed to wave to her through the window. All gifts just got left on a table in the entryway to quarantine, and then were given a few days later. We don’t know when we will see her again. I can tell that the elders in our lives are very lonely for human interaction on a physical level.
This has also not been easy for my husband and I, as I am working from home and taking care of the kids, while he never stopped going into work at his retail job. I am not sure it has brought us closer together, as we have different ideas about what is safe for our kids and it has caused some friction. COVID-19 seems to have magnified all the good and the bad in our lives by making it present and unchanging 24 hours a day.
I don’t know how life will be after we emerge from sheltering in place. I will try to stay close to my neighbors, be open to helping others, and I will give my parents BIG HUGS. I don’t think I will ever take the little things for granted anymore.
Submitted by MK, San Luis Obispo County – Arroyo Grande.