The pandemic at our place

My husband M gave me one of those earnest looks the other day: “This year was going to be stressful before there was a pandemic,” he said.

I laughed like I might never stop. We are expecting twins in July. It’s M’s first year of being entirely self-employed as a contractor, and I recently took a lay-off. We need a new house – one big enough to accommodate our instant just-add-water family of five – and planned to build this summer. But given Alaska’s economic decline, we’ll delay a year.

Covid-19 has made us financially vulnerable; yet so far, so good. Can’t complain. While everything is threatened, nothing much has changed. This isn’t the case for everyone. Many families are hurting right now.

I keep telling myself: As long as we are healthy and have an income, we’re fine. Under the thin veil of “fine,” however, there is more…. Anxiety. Stress. Confusion. Boredom. Loneliness. Isolation. Uncertainty. There are opportunities for free counseling right now and I’m interested; but I’m not sure what I would say that hasn’t already been said. “Hi, it’s me. There’s a pandemic, and I feel nervous….”

Instead of making phone calls and seeking providers, I breathe, go outside, take one day at a time. I’m more grateful than ever to live in a place surrounded by natural beauty. My niece C wrote this poem recently:

The wind is blowing up in the mountains, and the sky is turning blue. The dogs are running around. The horses are trotting too. The flowers are blooming. What can you say except it’s a beautiful world today.

I don’t know what six-year-olds understand about this moment in history, but her reminder to look outside of ourselves and pay attention to all that has not changed sums up a lot about how I’m functioning through Covid-19.

In March, a lot was up in the air and I felt terrible. Parents pulled their kids out of childcare until A was the last one standing. I was saving my annual leave for maternity so I kept her going as long as I could. It didn’t take long though, before I couldn’t justify our being out there anymore.

Single people are so lonely right now. I’ve heard several friends speak to how difficult it is to pass through months without any touch. No hugs. No hand-shakes. No end in sight. Meanwhile, moms are pulling their hair out trying to work from home, care for families, and keep school rolling with no childcare. The dichotomy between those without and those with kids couldn’t be more extreme than right now.

I tried working from home with a toddler. I plugged A into cartoons during morning Zoom meetings, typed like hell at nap time, stretched a full-time schedule out over seven days-a-week, stayed up until midnight, and thanked God for a paid holiday on Seward’s Day. In short: I didn’t make it through the second week.

So, after less than a year of adult conversations, I’m back with A full time. My opting out of the work was the only choice that made any sense. It’s been nice to be together again; lot’s of hugs. A is also in a phase where she likes to hang from my neck; so we’ve been talking about the dangers of strangulation.

A and I spend a lot of time alone together. Considering our significant lack of play dates, life could be getting boring. Lucky for me, A wakes up knowing what we should do with each new day:

“Go to the beach, mama?”

“Play camping, mama?”

“Birthday party for snowman, mama? With hats? And a big sign?”

Juneau’s pre-emptive social distancing means that we’ve had relatively few cases of Covid-19 in this area. Until yesterday, patients were restricted to the prison and those who flew in from elsewhere. There hasn’t been enough testing, but with so few documented cases it’s been hard to remember why we’re doing this. People, including myself, almost need the reinforcement of a spreading virus to remember why we should bother.

Of course I don’t want a massive wave of death. But right now I feel more worried about peoples’ finances and the subtle impacts of our estranged social behaviors on our communities and our kids.

A misses something but she’s not sure what: “I miss my cousin Lincoln,” she told me yesterday (even though he lives in Canada and she met him only once). And I miss Santa Claus,” she said. “Can we have Christmas again?”

I expect cases will come in waves over the next year (or two?). People will relax, travel, and socialize again and this thing will spread. Then we’ll tighten up; restrict our movements and get back into hunkering down. Technically I’m high risk because of this pregnancy but I don’t feel it. I wear a mask in stores and go through the motions of social distancing, but I wont really worry about my own exposure until these babies are on the outside.

If no one in your family or mine is sick, then maybe there’s room for us to spend a little time together?


One thought on “The pandemic at our place

  1. I’m not sick and neither are my dogs!!

    I’m happy to be reading about your life again, and would love a dog walk with a toddler 🙂
    We can social distance and I’ll wear a mask 😘


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