Living in total lockdown for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic was hard. I don’t know a single person who didn’t get at least a little bit restless. Staying home literally all the time and not seeing the people we loved was heartbreaking. I cried watching my kids interact with their grandparents through a window screen from 10 feet away.
I was living for the day the world could safely reopen. We settled in for the long haul, assuming something drastic would need to change before we could resume normal activities.
But then the world (at least my area of it) just kind of…opened back up. COVID-19 cases are still rising, we don’t have a concrete treatment or vaccine, and yet, we have been legally permitted to return to almost normal.
With legal restrictions lifted, voluntary social distancing is pretty much the only thing I can do to keep my family safe from the novel coronavirus now.
And that is exactly what I will do, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.
Until all major health organizations tell us to return to normal, my family is treating this COVID-19 pandemic like a pandemic, and I’m not entirely clear why some people think that’s such a bold thing to say.
My closest friends and family know that I’m not joining ladies’ nights, playdates or group outings yet. No restaurant dinners, no hugs, and no big group barbecues. No shopping trips just to browse, and no crowded public places. We have loosened up a little bit, but really, not much has changed.
Except for one giant thing: My husband’s work has returned to a full crew working in the office full-time. They’re still trying to be careful, but with everyone back at their desks, they aren’t able to maintain the same distance they once were. He is closer to people all day long, and I know that our COVID-19 risk is increased because of that one factor.
We have no choice but to allow that risk into our lives because he has to work.
But I can’t be bothered to assume any other risk I’m not one hundred percent comfortable with, and I don’t care who judges me, calls me paranoid or thinks I’m rude.
Now that a lot of people are returning to normal, living carefully isn’t in style anymore.
I happen to live in an area where it’s pretty common to hear someone say that the entire pandemic is a hoax (OMG, get me out of here), so I’m starting to feel like an alien from another planet. Taking COVID-19 seriously is not “the thing to do” around here anymore. People even roll their eyes at my family when we wear our masks in public.
And my kids think I’m the meanest mom ever. They hate the masks. You know what? I hate them, too. My oldest son says his mask is hot and bothers his ears, and I wholeheartedly agree. It’s seven zillion degrees outside, and the masks are a pain in the ass.
When such a huge percentage of adults aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, it’s hard to explain why my kids still have to. But he knows that other people aren’t his mom. I am. When we venture out, if he wants to leave our car, he is wearing a mask. End of story.
My middle son is autistic. Having a sweaty, annoying mask on his face is not his jam. He’s only been allowed to go to the doctor and a speech assessment because he won’t keep it on.
I am making my kids wear a mask and keep appropriate physical distance because I care about the people around me. I’m not paranoid. I’m courteous. If my husband brings the virus home from work, we could be pre-symptomatic and contagious at any time. So, we wear our masks for everyone else’s protection, and we steer very clear of anyone who won’t wear one for our protection.
We all have to make a lot of tough choices right now.
There are so many issues to weigh. A mom in New York City might make different decisions for her family than a parent in rural Montana. Families with someone in a high-risk category will likely do things differently than families who don’t have any of the most common risk factors. And people have to work. I understand how many factors come into play here.
But all of us should still be navigating this planet with the pandemic in mind. It didn’t go away when governors reopened our states, and it didn’t disappear because our attention has been rightly diverted to issues like racism and police brutality.
COVID-19 is still a threat, and cases are still climbing in a lot of states. It’s important to remain vigilant, make good choices, and keep your distance from non-household-members whenever possible.
If you’re like me, and you are trying to maintain social distance to keep your family safe in an area where that’s not the norm anymore, you might face some resistance from people who think the threat has passed.
Don’t be afraid to assert yourself. It’s not rude to protect your boundaries, and anyone who can’t respect your desire to protect your family needs to work that out in their own brain. Nobody has the right to breach your boundaries or pressure you into moving the line.
Nobody gets to tell you that you have to take risks you aren’t comfortable with in the name of politeness.
I’m not even considering it.
If I don’t know you, I’m not getting within 10 feet of you, and I’m not making any unnecessary exceptions.
Get close to me without a mask, and I’m going to ask you to step back.
If you hold the door, I will politely decline to walk through.
We aren’t shaking hands, no matter how paranoid you think that makes me.
Playdates are a no-go, and that’s not just for our protection. It’s for yours!
You might call me rude. Have at it. I’m unbothered AF. If I won’t change my mind about protective measures to appease my own children — the people I love most in the entire world — why would I compromise for anyone else?