Life has changed. Will it go back to normal? Hard to say. If, when, where, how?
Motherhood has changed. Become better, in some ways. Become harder, in others. Keeping my children safe means something much different today than it did a year ago. I keep them closer, rules are stricter, the leash is tighter. And not by choice. I would love to give them the freedom they need and deserve; to let them run gleefully in the park with friends, hold hands with others, climb playground structures and hang from monkey bars without worrying about who touched the surface just prior. I wish I didn’t have to keep calling “keep your distance”, as they bike on our street with the neighborhood kids. I wish I didn’t have to worry about the babysitter exposing the kids to a possibly fatal illness just by virtue of her having a new boyfriend.
However, I am thankful for the extra time with my children. Spending days with them, talking, hugging, playing, swimming in the lake, discovering new experiences together, it’s a blessing. Even the thought of homeschooling them come fall is exciting to me – and to my daughter. We talk about the curriculum and how we will learn cooking, gardening, how to fix things, nature, and so much more. What we can teach our kids at home far exceeds what a rigid school curriculum can encompass; we can focus on what is important while still making sure they get their core subjects.
When I go to work, and watch the emergency department gradually fill again to bursting, I remember the danger lurking in the corners of our existence. The serpent’s venom waits behind every contact; stealthy, it bides it’s time, ready to pounce if the slightest error is made. While things look better here in Quebec, I see our board turning brown again with rule out covid cases. I see our resuscitation room full of brown squares representing patients with respiratory illness going to ICU, who may or may not have the infection. I observe many more cases of young people presenting through our hot zone garage, having symptoms quite likely to be covid. This thing, it’s not leaving. It’s here, it’s waiting to flow over again in a second wave of illness. And scary to us as physicians, this tsunami may arrive in concert with the torrent of influenza and other respiratory disease, come fall. Then what will we do? Our department is overflowing now with regular patients, non covid, non flu – what happens in September, when kids go back to school, people go back to work, and the double edged sword of respiratory disease strikes?
My heart is full of love for my beautiful children, and full of dread for the future. The calm surrounding me when I see so many people going about their daily lives, gives hope but at the same time fear. I am writing this sitting outside a Starbucks, in a parking lot, at a table that I wiped down with an antiviral wipe. I haven’t done this since February, and the only reason I allowed myself to do it now is because I’m the only one here. I won’t step foot inside, however, but I see dozens of people doing so. In they go, wearing masks, a new reality. How safe is it? I don’t know. Nobody does.
So, we will wait, and hope, and survive. There will be so many stories for our grandkids one day. How their parents and grandparents and great grandparents lived through a pandemic, made the most of what we were given, and moved forward with more love than we had before, and more gratitude for eachother.