Here we are, one full year since COVID-19 emerged in the United States, the dreaded coronavirus hitting home. In my house, it is referred to as “The New Flu.” Why? I think one time in April 2020 I described it as such and it took. Children are very concrete and perceptive. My girls were in Pre-K and a second year of preschool when the pandemic was decreed. Friday, March 13 was the last day of in-person schooling for both of them to this day.
I don’t regret my decision not to send them back in Fall 2020, as my youngest has a compromised immune system, but I do regret the year of socialization lost. We all regret it, those of us who found ourselves without a bubble, so to speak. The thing is, I was new in town. I had just moved to Pennsylvania in September and got a solid five months of normalcy before the rug was pulled out from under us. I was officially divorced by Halloween 2020 and so, so ready to hit the town as a single lady, embracing her freedom every other weekend while daddy played the urban bachelor in nearby Philly. Life rarely works to plan.
Here we are, a year later, and I truly regret not forging lasting friendships with like-minded people. To be sure, we have casual friends, good people who do not always mask up, people who blithely travel out of state, to restaurants, to bowling alleys, what-have-you. It is staggering to think that I moved my girls to a part of the world where following the rules seems optional. We have one family with whom we’ve consistently engaged in outdoor masked playdates. We endured the sweltering summer in sticky masks, humidity and foggy glasses for me and the oldest daughter of my dear friend. It was not ideal. But we pushed through the discomfort in the name of friendship and solidarity. In the real world, we observed so many casual acquaintances and neighbors slip in their mask and distancing protocol. We all have our reasons, I suppose. My driving force? Keeping my family safe. No, we will not be joining you in your alley BBQ for Memorial Day or the 4th of July or Labor Day. No, we will not be trick-or-treating this Halloween.
As a single mother, I cannot afford slips. My youngest child and my 65+ parents are my priority. I had to swallow my rage over block party after endless block party — that continued through Winter 2020-2021, mind you — and accept that we could not join our bubble with anyone else’s and be “safe.” What is safe? Safe is vaccinated. If not fully, then fist dose is better than nothing. When will I get mine? A healthy 34-year-old, not yet a full-time state employee as a certified secondary teacher, is looking realistically at the end of May 2021 for a first dose. That’s fine. I can live with that. But my girls? I want them to go to First Grade and Kindergarten in public school in August. Will that happen? I sure hope so.
I wish I could say that I found myself or got my groove back during quarantine but instead, I was forced to confront my greatest failures and my biggest strengths all at once. It was almost too much for one person at this critical time in history but hey, there’s no one applauding on the sidelines so suck it up, sister. I have ADHD and though I have never before been medicated, this was my year. After visiting a neurologist and jumping through many hoops for an “adult” diagnosis of something that is as plain as the nose on my face, I engaged in a months-long trial and error routine of stimulant after failed stimulant. Turns out? I’m one of those people who doesn’t tolerate stimulants. Tah-dah!
My journey continues. I still don’t have the magic silver bullet but I’m hopeful it exists. I’m hopeful for me, my children, and for my mother, a retired teacher of 40+ years who has probably seen it all. She has been a lifesaver for virtual kindergarten while I attempt to wrangle the little one into a semblance of kindergarten-ready for fall. I’m lucky, I know, to have this time at home. I am fortunate to see them through this pandemic and into public school in the fall. God willing.
It doesn’t make the day-to-day any less difficult. If I see one more “there is light at the end of the tunnel!” post I will puke and scream and pass out from a vasovagal response. Seriously? Vaccination for EVERYONE is the only hope. We have to rely on the compliance of strangers to keep us safe and until the day when I get the one-jab J&J vax in my arm, I will remain comfortably numb to optimism while simultaneously teaching my daughters that hope springs eternal and they should always look on the bright side. I do this while keeping the worst case scenario in the back of my mind.