My oldest daughter is a nurse at a local hospital. She calls me every morning after her night shift to say hello, let me know how her night went, and to find out how everyone is doing. However, on one particular morning in early March, she texted me. She asked if I had seen the news. I replied that I had not and asked her why. She replied that she was just asking.
My mother’s instinct knew there was something she wasn’t telling me, so I immediately got up from my bed and went online to read the local news. I read the hospital where she works had started taking patients with suspected cases of the coronavirus. I immediately called her in a panic wanting to know how many, what part of the hospital, if she was working with them directly, and if so, did she have all the correct protection she needed. In a scolding tone, she told me I already knew that she wasn’t allowed to disclose any information.
What she did tell me, was that she would not be able to visit us for a while. This was hard to hear as we are a close family. We like to have fun and banter back and forth with each other, especially when one of us does something that makes us all shake our heads in bewilderment. We can also be serious and give each other good advice on how to best deal with a situation any one of us is experiencing. Every Friday night we would go out to eat as a family. With the exception of when she was at work, Friday Family Dinner Night, which she affectionately renamed Friday Family Finner, was our time for the four of us to get together and talk about our week and other things going on in our lives.
Ten weeks have passed since that text that changed everything. It has been hard on me not to see my daughter. Though I was able to talk to her through the window of her home when I would go drop off food or groceries for her, it started to affect me. I started noticing that I wasn’t eating as much as normal, and I was losing weight. I realized that my stomach aches would start after I had visited her. I texted her and told her that I could no longer go over and see her because of the effect it was having on me. I’m fine talking to her on the phone and FaceTiming her, but it’s tough to see her in person. She told me she already knew because she could see it in my eyes each time I would go over.
Now, instead of getting together for Friday Family Finner, we buy a meal from a local eatery, drop hers off at her front door, come home and FaceTime her while we all eat. The phone sits in her spot she usually sits at when she comes over. It’s not the same and I don’t like it. However, I also understand why it has to be this way. I worry about her constantly. She’s normally a social person, but she lives alone and can’t socialize and destress from work like she used to do. Her socializing now consists of preparing a meal for herself and getting on Zoom with her other RN friends. While she says she’s fine, I only partially believe her.
On top of worrying about her, my other daughter has been working from our home. She is a first-year third grade teacher at a Title I school. While this first year has been challenging for her, as it is for all first-year teachers, she was just starting to find her footing. Then it was all taken away. She was looking forward to getting back from spring break and finishing out the year strong. Now, she feels like she isn’t getting to finish what she started.
Doing distance learning isn’t the same. She has not been able to connect with some of her students and she worries about them. She specifically wanted to teach third grade because she feels that it is a pivotal time academically and socially for the students. She wanted to help mold them into responsible, respectable students who can carry themselves in a positive manner, no matter what challenges they faced. She feels she can’t fully do that through distance learning. Not having that in-person interaction with her students has been a difficult transition.
As a mom, I worry about both of my daughters. To cope, I talk with my husband when I am feeling anxious, and I have reluctantly learned to take their word that they are fine, and that if they aren’t, they will let us know. I am slowly learning to talk to the girls when something is worrying me about them. I also did my own online research and came up with my own combination of relaxation exercises and stretches that I do each morning that have helped me stay a bit more optimistic and positive.
I never thought my daughters would be frontline workers and, honestly, don’t like that term to be used in reference to my daughters. They aren’t frontline workers, they are simply two smart, independent women who love their respective professions and give the most each day to make sure that those in their care are taken care of in the best way possible.