So many states have now been ordered to shelter-in-place, and though Michigan is still low on confirmed cases compared to other states, our governor is proactive about containing this virus. We’re certain she’ll order us to stay home soon. We have provisions to last a week, but we haven’t really planned ahead long-term. We figured a trip to Costco was necessary; besides, we are low on paper towels, and with a shortage of toilet paper, those are certainly next on the to-hoard list.
Everything looked the same on the drive over, but when we parked in the half-empty lot, there was a line out the door. A staff person said the store was at capacity, so we had to wait to be let in. There have been plenty of weekends where we’ve struggled to find a parking spot, and yet the store hadn’t been at capacity then. There was a pile of pallets separating us into two lines, lines that were at least 6 feet apart. Those carts are almost 6 feet long themselves, so we stayed a safe distance between those in front of and behind us. For once, people weren’t crowding, weren’t shoving, weren’t trying to get ahead. We all just waited patiently out in the cold.
Once inside, we saw they were out of paper towels. Go figure.
It’s still chilly outside, but the sun was out, and I wanted to enjoy it and escape my family for a little while. I walked to the playground that Amelia and I usually walk to in the summertime, because for some odd reason, I wanted to see what it looked like. Would it be wrapped in caution tape? Would there be kids playing on it? Would it even still be there? I felt like it had possibly disappeared. There’s that old riddle: if a tree falls in a woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a playground sits in a field and no kids can play on it, does it even exist? I honestly didn’t know. I had to see for myself.
Naturally, everything was still there and still the same, only some punk kids had graffitied the sidewalk. I wasn’t surprised. These times feel a bit like the wild west: desolate, dangerous. Every step out of the house is risky. Those punk kids were just trying to show their grit, I’m sure, like one accepting a dare. When the stakes are so high, even the smallest acts seem reckless. And people love to be reckless.
Today, any large events for the foreseeable future were postponed or cancelled. Restaurants, bars, gyms, anywhere that usually held more than ten people at a time, were ordered to close their doors. It seemed like the world was shutting down.
Not the whole world, though.
My daughter’s private preschool/daycare is still open, too. She attends four days a week for half days in the morning. They assure parents that they are taking new precautions to keep everyone as safe from Covid-19 as possible: vigilant cleaning, regular hand washing, etc.
I could keep my 3-year-old home. I am off work. I am available to watch her all day. My niece’s preschool is still open, too, but as soon as a coronavirus case tested positive in the state, my brother pulled her out.
My daughter has never really been all that excited to go to school. She puts up a fight at every drop-off. Usually tears and snot flow from her face as she grips tightly to my arms; her teacher pries her off me. But the minute I’m gone, they tell me, she’s fine. She smiles. She plays. She’s a happy girl. They send picture after picture of her dancing, coloring, finding hidden items on scavenger hunts. When I pick her up after lunch, she walks with me calmly to the door, not in a frantic rush to leave, and waves to her friends and teachers. I ask her if she had a good day, and she says with a smile, “yeah.” I ask what she did, and she tells me with enthusiasm. She likes school, I know she does, even if she doesn’t like leaving me every morning.
Motherhood has come easy for me in the way that I instantly loved my daughter, instantly knew I would do anything to protect her, comfort her, make her happy. She makes me laugh and she makes me smile and I am so grateful and so lucky to have her in my life.
Motherhood has not come easy for me in any other way. I have always been more of an introvert. I like my space. I like having time for me. I like being able to do what I want to do with my days.
When she’s at preschool in the morning, I get that space, that time, that freedom to do what I want to do. I can write. I can read. I can be who I am outside of the title of “mother.” It’s a hard thing to give up voluntarily.
I have plenty of excuses or explanations. Covid-19 isn’t very high yet in my state. Children are the demographic that handle Covid-19 the best. If she gets sick, she will likely be fine. If we take her out of school, it will be so much harder to get her to go back. She needs the socialization. She needs time away from her mommy. She needs to remember that other adults can care for her besides her parents.
Her school is good for her. Her school is good for me, too.
Any yet school in general is being targeted as harmful. School is where viruses spread unknowingly. School is where people get sick. School is where silent killers lay on all surfaces, just waiting to infect.
It feels dangerous to let her keep going in these pandemic times. But it feels just as dangerous to keep her home.
Our governor called for a shelter-in-place of all of us, so Amelia is officially off school for at least three weeks. And Chris has moved into his home office. So it’s all of us all of the time now for at least the next three weeks.