What COVID Pandemic Gave Me: Time With My Children
April 29, 2021
It’s been a year and more. I think it will take a lifetime for all of us to process what we’ve all been through. And then our family, friends and colleagues – we’ve “seen” eachother but I don’t think each of us fully understands what each of us has been through. We all have our individual COVID stories. What a year. It’s still going on, and I just got into a heated argument with a young father who did not believe in the COVID vaccine. But the US is slowly opening up. COVID is still raging in India, and there will be ups and downs – but we are entering into the “new normal” and post-COVID world.
Did you hear President Joe Biden’s address yesterday? He was really good. Of course the right will need to temper the spending and balance out the liberal agenda, but many changes need to happen. We pay taxes and we are willing to pay a bit more to help the world. Universal preschool. Civilian Climate Corp, or whatever they are going to call it. Green jobs. There is a lot of deferrred work to be done in this country. I’m glad he pulled the troops from Afghanistan. There are other places we need to be at. We are not into nation-building. Lets get into earth-healing. He called out China and Russia. Remember when I mentioned that Russia claimed Venus during the pandemic? They claimed an entire planet while we were not watching.
But yesterday I felt it starting to truly happen. The kids are beginning to pull away. Plans are being made. Our son is the youngest of his friend group and the rest are vaccinated. He is still masked and primarily outside when he got together with his life-long friend group, but they got together in a backyard in Kensington our old neighborhood. I’m sure they talked about girls, and played video games and ate chips. He was happy. We are going to make his appointment for his COVID-19 vaccine right on his birthday this June. He asked if he could go to Michigan with one of his best friends for the week, to their family’s lakehouse. This particular family we are close to and trust. They are even more conservative than we are. But a week away from him in August. I feel him pulling away. sixteen soon. Drivers license soon. It’s going to be really hard for me. I’ve had him and his sister both to myself. Eventhough for much of the time we were in the same house but not really interacting as much, we were together. And now I’m having a really hard time .
COVID gave me a year with him especially. I worked so much when he was younger. I didn’t get to see him roll. I didn’t get to see the first step. I missed the first Halloween costume parade when he was three. I don’t know why I didn’t go. My lab advisor didn’t care. I was working off at NIH grant and was free labour anyway. His first three years were a blur of residency and fellowship, and depression really. I pumped breastmilk during his first year but didn’t get to breastfeed him, because who has time to figure out breastfeeding when you have to be back when your baby in not even 2 months? Now I realize it was a very hard time. And this year during COVID when the rest of the world was suffering, pediatrics was relatively quiet. It was hard for everyone, not knowing what to do to keep safe initially, and then how to treat patients. But honestly for us, it was a quiet year of mostly staying at home and the kids were happy.
And the world is opening up, and their possible summer schedulers are filling up with the busyness of being teenagers. We’ll have two teenagers in the house in a week. How did that happen? And I’m just taking this morning to grieve and to be sad. I’ve learned to let myself feel and to realize it’s so important. Slowing down life has meant allowing myself to process the beautiful quiet moments and shifts.
A quiet life can be beautiful and dramatic. And this year has been a quiet one for me and him. I’ve just sat at mostly this kitchen table watching him, and thinking about him. I’ll pop into his room and show him a trash art piece, or tell him an observation about the beach or the composter. He won’t be in his room as much anymore. I cleaned the carpet yesterday which was long overdue, and I wiped down his door which has gotten soiled with fingerprints. I told him that this room would be cleaner if I was welcomed in his room. As he was virtually talking to his best friend, he said “Mommy, you are always welcome. You have a lot of internalized gender norms that you have to get over. Let me know if you want to talk about it.” And that is what COVID gave me.