My husband, my children, and I have not left the house, other than to purchase essential items like groceries, pet food, and medicine, since March 12th. We’ve kept this incredibly strict quarantine in part because my husband had a bout of pertussis when my oldest son was three months old; I had been vaccinated in the hospital and passed the immunity to the baby through my breastmilk, and we were safe. But my husband’s lungs were scarred so badly, the asthma attacks he’d kicked when he was eight started up again. His colds turn to bronchitis. I am recovering from atypical anorexia and likely have a compromised immune system. We simply cannot contract COVID-19. But my mother broke quarantine anyway.
I suspected she wasn’t taking the disease seriously from the beginning. I offered, several times, for her to move in with us when it became apparent this was going to be a long haul. She refused and said we’d be back to school in two weeks. When my husband offered time and again to mow the lawn, she said the neighbor boy had done it — and when I asked how she’d paid him, she said she’d put the money in the mailbox. I was sketched out, but didn’t mention it. The masks we gave her looked unworn. She’d say she only went to the grocery store but then she’d mention things she’d bought at the dollar store. But I wanted so badly to trust her. No one wants to think their mother is lying.
We kept seeing her anyway.
Then We Discovered She Broke Quarantine
It started with a simple phone call. I don’t remember why my husband wanted to talk to her. But she was out looking at a house — with her best friend. Her excuse? She didn’t want to ask me to go, because she knew I would be anxious seeing a realtor (seeing one person wouldn’t have scared me; I just would’ve worn a mask and stood six feet away). But she swore they had driven separately.
Then her story changed. She and her friend had driven together.
In the same phone call, her story changed again: they were having a drink now, on a park bench. They’d purchased the drink at a local restaurant. They were outside. But it was okay because her bestie never went anywhere. She never saw anyone. She kept quarantine.
Except when we checked her bestie’s Facebook, the BFF had checked them into the restaurant as “having brunch.”
Except when we scrolled down through six hundred Baby Boomer kitten memes, we discovered her BFF broke quarantine frequently, flagrantly, and obviously: she had multiple photographs of herself with other Boomers. They were hugging. They were not wearing masks.
We were devastated.
She Put Us All At Risk
My mom is over sixty. She shouldn’t be out of the house, let alone out of the house with her bestie who socializes in groups. The older you are, the higher your chance of hospitalization. While the risk goes up severely at sixty-five, according to the CDC, she’ll be sixty-four this year. She also has a high body mass index, which the CDC says increases her chance of hospitalization as well.
My husband’s moderate asthma puts him at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 as well, the CDC also says.
We have three children. What would happen if my husband and I contracted COVID-19 at the same time because she broke quarantine? Who would take care of our kids? It’s not just a “severe flu,” says a Scary Mommy contributor who has spent 65 days and counting battling the virus. We couldn’t adequately care for them… and she’s our backup caretaker. My husband’s parents live out of state and are in an even higher risk category than my mother. You can’t hire a babysitter to come over and take care of your kids because you’ve got COVID-19.
In other words, if we contracted COVID-19 because my mother broke quarantine, we’d be righteously screwed.
Now We Can’t Trust Her
Based on her attitude before we figured out she was out with her bestie, I highly suspect this isn’t the first time my mom broke quarantine. When I complained that my doctor refused to do telehealth with me, though they would do it with high-risk patients, and they weren’t taking what I would consider proper precautions to prevent transmission, she rolled her eyes. When I forced her to set down a pot of soup she’d made for us and back away so I could pick it up (this was before we had all been isolated for two weeks), her attitude was “humor the madwoman.”
And she lied to us.
Her story kept changing, because she knew we’d be angry. If she had come clean immediately and told the truth, we’d feel differently about it. But because she lied, I feel like we can’t trust her in the future. It’s been more than two weeks since she and her best friend went looking at that house. We haven’t spoken. I don’t trust that she hasn’t gone out.
Her bestie’s also partially blocked me from seeing certain posts on Facebook. She’s a Boomer. She thinks I can’t tell.
She’s Made No Effort to Contact Us Since She Broke Quarantine
My mother lives twenty minutes away. She has three grandsons. When my husband called to confront her, he made a point to say that he hoped, in the two weeks after she broke quarantine, that she’d make an effort to Zoom with and talk to her grandsons.
She’s willing to cut off the kids out of spite. I’m not sure what to make of that.
She also never apologized for putting us at risk. She never said she wouldn’t do it again. She expected my husband to apologize to her for calling her out. (My husband did the calling because, well, I wouldn’t have been forceful enough, probably would have caved, and she’d have yelled at me, which would have made me cry and given me a panic attack when I hung up the phone).
We don’t know what to do. I don’t trust her. My husband says he has no ego in the game and doesn’t care if he has to make the first move and somehow, in her eyes, lose face or something. “She just won’t contact us until Doomsday, will she?” he asked.
“Nope,” I replied.
“Because I called her out when she broke quarantine during a global pandemic.”
We don’t really care about ourselves at this point. (Well, I’m deeply hurt, but I live with it). But the kids? Seriously? No one does that to my kids. No one puts my kids’ health at risk that cavalierly. No one then drops them out of sheer spite, just to somehow punish my husband and me. I want to believe her. I want to reconcile with her. I want to trust her.
But she broke quarantine and lied about it. She put us all at risk. That realtor wouldn’t have scared me. But that 14 day wait to see if we had COVID-19 sure as hell did.