My daughter turned ten the day the schools closed. She was happy at first. She got the day off school. Now it’s been 8 months since she’s seen most of her friends, and it’s not so fun anymore. She pretty much lives in bed now. It’s not a good lifestyle for a ten-year-old. It’s caused her periods to be extremely slow, lasting many weeks at a time and causing terrible anemia. And it’s caused some depression too.
I had horrible depression in the beginning. I took some time off work so that I could just focus on my two kids. My son was still in kindergarten and couldn’t really manage online school without close adult help. Now he is in first grade, and his level of computer literacy is far and above what mine was as a first grader, but his classes in speech and social skills have suffered from the limitations of the isolated online format, and have all but halted indefinitely.
I had to adapt my custody plan with my ex husband so that I would have the kids most school days, but he would have them for a longer “weekend” twice a month. This changed my personal life quite a bit and made it so that I have the kids at long stretches, with little to do. I hardly ever saw my boyfriend at first.
My boyfriend’s father died of a sudden illness in June. He and his family were not able to see his father to bid him goodbye. But they did get to have one FaceTime session with an iPad. I never got to meet his dad, and I didn’t attend the funeral because it was supposed to be a very limited number of people.
A few months later, my uncle in Ohio passed away. He was a bachelor who lived alone, and his death wasn’t discovered for several days. It was when someone involved with a Meals for Seniors type program noticed he hadn’t opened his door in several days, that they called the police and started an investigation. He was cremated, and last month my family had a private Catholic Mass said for him.
The churches closing was one of the hardest things for my family. For me, it was the libraries. These institutions had always been there for us, and seemed designed to be a refuge for us if something like this happened. But to our chagrin, those very sanctuaries were closed to us. The churches only opened fairly recently, in some counties and not others.
My mother is a schoolteacher and her private Catholic school decided to allow a hybrid model of in-person and online classes. This means she has to teach kids in front of her, and kids watching from home. The parents have been cruel. They frequently take out their stresses about missed assignments and stuff out on my mother. I wish my mother could retire or quit like many of her peers are doing, but she’s such a good teacher and anyway she’s still about a year away.
There seems to be an overall teacher shortage now, because my daughter’s class (an extremely large class of 37 kids) is being taught now by a long-term sub.
As a librarian, there are so many times that I see people being left behind by the digital divide, and I wish there was more we could do for them. And now that it’s November and the days are getting colder, I wonder what the people experiencing homelessness are going to do. They used to come to the library to get out of the rain and cold. I see many people living in their cars, parked in grocery store parking lots or even in our library’s parking lot. Sometimes people just camp out against the side of the building that has better WiFi.
I’ve been trying to do what I can to support charities and the poor. Whenever I hear a friend is hurting for money I try to donate some. Many friends, particularly the creative ones like musicians, singers and actors, are out of work. I’m lucky to still be employed.
I did learn one new skill over the last eight months: I learned how to draw. I’m already a writer but sometimes I get so overwhelmed I can’t write. But I can draw! Drawing is more meditative, and I’ve become especially good at rendering photos.
I had to be quarantined for a few weeks after my sister tested positive for COVID. She got it from her son’s therapist who comes to her home, because her son is too little for telehealth to work.
I’m slowly finding some equilibrium again, in my personal life, in my relationship, in my family life, in my job. Most days I juggle homeschooling my now-first-grader and telecommuting for work. I try to carve out time for my fifth grade daughter when I can, especially when her brother goes to bed and we can watch more mature (teen) anime TV shows. She and I have forged a much stronger bond these past eight months. Most days, I’m the only person my children ever see.
For a long time it was difficult to find any time for myself, but now I have a regimen of waking up at 5 am every day. (The time changed helped.) Now I wake up and get some writing and drawing and even jogging or walking done, before starting the exhausting day of working-cum-homeschooling. And I’m doing telehealth therapy appointments daily, which is good.
I’m grateful for the time to see my children grow and to get a better idea of what they’re really learning (or sometimes what they’re not learning) in school. I love this time I’ve gotten to spend with them. I’m sad that it is such a difficult time for so many people though. And I feel angry that we flew right past the milestone of 100,000 lives lost in the U.S., that was touted as a “worst-case-scenario” in February. Now we’re approaching 250,000 deaths.
It’s not going to go away. A vaccine may come out eventually, but some things about our world are just going to change permanently. I just hope that libraries aren’t one of those things. I hope that we can move from being warehouses back to being living, breathing community centers again.
Submitted by AnnMarie K., Los Angeles County – Temple City.