When we first heard about this novel Coronavirus, I made sure to talk to Emma Kate about washing her hands well and not touching her face. I began to watch the news (I hate the news) and stay updated. Then very quickly, things escalated. EK’s school closed, businesses started to close, and our world changed.
To be honest, the first week or two didn’t phase me a whole lot. What I mean by that is, I wasn’t depressed or scared or feeling hopeless. We were very careful and didn’t leave the house except to grocery shop or bring food to my parents. Bobby still has to go to work, but he only sees a couple of people and has his own office. Then, sometime last week, things started to get more real for me.
It started when our church sent out an email stating they were for sure only doing online services through at least the week after Easter. That one really, really got to me. Not going to church on Easter Sunday? I am 34 years old and have gone to church on Easter Sunday (well, every Sunday, but you get the idea) for 34 years. I know it seems silly, but I got a little choked up about no Easter dresses, Easter egg hunts, bunny photos, or Sunday service saying “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” That was the first night that I cried myself to sleep.
Then, I had to pick up Emma Kate’s school packet. Up until this point, we were only told they were closed through April 3rd. However, when I got the packet, it had work in it for the next two weeks. I knew we would not be going back April 3rd. Soon after I began hearing reports of certain states saying they were not going back to school at all for this school year. My heart began to hurt not only for my daughter who LOVES school and will never get this time back, but also for all the seniors, college grads, and other kids that were in that “special” year of life and they will never get this time back.
On Sunday, President Trump held a press conference where he stated that he was extending our social distancing tactics as a country through at least April 30th. This was on March 29th. That night was again particularly hard for me as I thought of how far away this is, of each day being the same, groundhog day over and over again, juggling my house, work, and homeschooling a 5-year-old. Yall, I know I used to teach, but I stopped for a reason. This is not my calling and it has been difficult for me to transition to doing. Emma Kate loves crafts and circle time and her friends. I can’t give her those things. She wants to read so badly. I get so frustrated with her and it’s hard.
Then Disney announced they will be closed indefinitely, and more realities began to sink in. (Yall, this is all on top of how devastating it is that people are sick and dying, please don’t think that I have “forgotten” about that because I am talking about my family and what we are feeling. You can grieve something without taking away from something else.) Our huge family trip for the year was canceled, I worked so hard to make it a reality and align all the stars with the dates we could make it work.
I hate that my 5-year-old knows the word coronavirus, and that she knows she can’t touch or hug her grandparents. I hate that when she makes a wish on what she calls a “puffeler” amongst the weeds in the yard, she wishes that the virus would go away forever instead of wishing for candy or unicorns or a Disney trip like she used to do.
I feel like a part of her innocence has been taken away and it’s not ok. To me, it is reminiscent of how I felt as an 11th grader during 9/11. Words I was unfamiliar with became a part of my everyday vocabulary like Iraq. Terrorist. Twin towers. Afganistan. I feel it was a defining moment in my generation, and this will forever be one for her. Things can never go back 100% the way they were. 9/11 was how many years ago? I’m still a little scared every time I get on an airplane. I don’t like to sit with my back to doors so I can see everyone in a room and what they are or aren’t doing. After a huge event, you always see things differently. Will we always be afraid to hug others or shake hands? What about being in a crowded space or theme park? Will we forever freak out when someone coughs within ten feet of us? I don’t know.
As a parent, you want to give your child this beautiful and perfect world, you know, the way that they see it through their eyes. It kills you when they are forced to experience hard jolts of reality, especially at such a young age.
Yes, I took it for granted. Yes, I want things to somewhat “go back to how they were.” But they can’t. Not completely. But, for now, I will try to make things as normal for her as possible. She doesn’t need to know. She doesn’t need to realize what she is missing. I want her to stay little and unaware as long as possible.
So tonight I may cry, but I won’t do it in front of her. Then, I will get up and we will draw with sidewalk chalk, and dance around the living room, do schoolwork and go on walks. And I will thank God for another day of health, safety, and time together. We aren’t promised another day, so let’s try our best to work with what we’ve got.