I was on the road for my family’s much anticipated summer vacation when I received a text from my friend Amy, whom I had not seen in over a decade. She saw my post on social media about my destination, which is where she now lived, and asked if we could get together. Gracious and thoughtful about how family vacations can be, Amy left it up to me if I wanted to see her one-on-one, get our families together, or take a pass if it felt like too much during a pandemic.
It was June, just after my kids got out of school. While we were in some ways moving out of the pandemic, the inertia of it was still in effect. I wanted to see Amy tremendously, but I had to take a beat to assess my comfort level and that of my family. We determined we would be okay meeting up. One thing led to another, and we were invited to dinner at Amy’s home.
I knew in my heart it would be great. Amy was the first friend I made when I moved to Washington over 20 years ago. We worked together for a time and then stayed connected as we both got married and had our first children. Then she and her family moved, and while we remained committed Christmas card exchangers, we had not been in touch frequently. Yet the few times we did connect, it was like old times. There was never any weirdness or blame over who was supposed to call whom. We were just two forever friends picking up where we left off.
Excitement built for me as we drove to Amy’s home. Her family greeted us at the door. We got to hug each other and meet the youngest kids who have come along since last we visited. It was surreal. While my family had seen people in the past eighteen months, this was the first time we all went to dinner together inside someone’s home. I was overwhelmed by how good it felt to receive deep hospitality again, to be invited into someone’s intimate living space, offered a home cooked meal, and made to feel so welcomed and loved. It was like waking up out of a dream. And the best part was our kids all got along splendidly.
After several hours we took our leave, armed with recommendations of things to do on the rest of our vacation. Over the next few days, Amy checked in to see how it was going and if we needed anything else. Her care rippled forward. As I reflect back on this simple dinner, I am flooded with gratitude. It is more than the fact that Amy and her family showed us a wonderful time. This interaction helped me re-engage in the world. Amy was like guide welcoming me back to life. She reminded me of the importance of connecting after so long apart, and I am trying to pay it forward as each day leads us to the next phase of this uncertain future.
What has the pandemic been like for you? Are you able to have social gatherings in your part of the world?
Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Network!
COVID-19 has thrust so many from different countries to be on alert. Every day, the rules and regulations from different governments are changing, not just in the United States, but on a global level.
When this virus made its presence known in December in Wuhan, China, I heard about its existence from various news outlets, but at that point, it was a disease that was affecting people in China, not the United States. Even when I heard that the virus had affected passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, I was concerned for them, but didn’t think it would ever affect my neck of the woods; and I was so wrong.
When the virus hit Italy and the number of casualties kept getting higher, as well as fear of its spread to other countries, I started to wonder how we, as a country, would we react? I got my answer when the first confirmed case came from someone who lives in New York, not far from where my brother-in-law lives.
The result affected me in waves of disbelief and fear. Disbelief that this virus had made its way to my state and affected a whole community, and fear for how many more people would become casualties from one person. Since the confirmation of this person’s sickness a few weeks ago, his community has been on lockdown and continues to be so, making it impossible for my brother-in-law and his fiancé to leave.
As the number of casualties continues to rise, businesses, schools, and the economy have been affected, not just here in the States, but globally. My daughter is just one among thousands whose schools have been mandated to close for a few weeks or longer and continue their schoolwork remotely. While my daughter is able to continue learning remotely, others are not as fortunate.
As for my husband and I, we have been affected by this virus in a circuitous way. We had plans on attending a family member’s Bat Mitzvah in New York last week along with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew in tow. Upon learning that New York had become a hot spot for COVID-19 and more people were testing positive from this virus, my husband and daughter thought it best that we cancel our trip because my mother-in-law and I have compromised health issues. While I was initially disappointed and sad that we couldn’t be with our daughter and extended family for this special occasion, I knew that it was the right decision to make.
We thought we had dodged the virus until we found out that my sister-in-law’s ex-husband may have come in contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus. While my mother-in-law and I did not have any physical contact with him, my husband and sister-in-law did when they had to pick up my nephew from him in North Carolina. The intention was to have my nephew drive up with us for the Bat Mitzvah, before we decided not to go. Up until we found out about my ex-brother-in-law’s situation a few days ago, my husband and I were busy showing our family our new home and neighborhood.
The news of his possible contact impacted us differently. My husband, who had never been a doomsday believer went out to the stores and bought enough food to last us for a few weeks. In addition, he also installed a Purell dispenser in our bathroom so we could all use it as needed. As for me, the thought of not having my daughter living in the same state as us worried me. I started to realize that this crisis has no end date and we are all affected, one way or another.
In light of how this virus has affected us locally and globally, the idea of “social distancing” has become a necessity. For someone like me who loves to be around people, I thought social distancing would be hard to do; that it would make me stir crazy to have restrictions of socializing with people other than my family. I was wrong.
Social distancing is allowing me to be mindful of how I act around other people. It is helping me become aware of how my actions affect those around me and my community. Others may look at social distancing as punishment, but for me, it is a way to slow down and realize that doing this one action could help reduce the spread of the virus. I don’t know how long or how many more people will be affected by COVID-19, but I do believe that social distancing is one way of refocusing the way we think about this virus, those affected by it and how we move forward from it.
This is an original post by Tes Silverman written for World Moms Network.
Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.
Americans are known for our spirit of rugged individualism. We love to celebrate individual creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and volunteerism. It can be inspiring!
Except when it comes to fighting a global pandemic.
The United States is a few weeks behind China, South Korea, Italy, and other countries hard hit by COVID-19. We’re now experiencing a national test to see if individualism will overcome the need for us to fall in line and adopt personal habits of social distancing to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
The plea from health experts for self-isolation distancing goes directly against a basic stubbornness to think, “I have the right to do as I please and you can’t stop me!” But I believe that at our core, Americans are compassionate, too. Together, we can turn an attitude of forced isolation to one of solidarity in kindness. Part of that will be the spread of information and stories to ignite our collective compassion.
The Science of #FlattenTheCurve
It’s now too late to stop the spread of the corona virus, so we need to take every precaution to SLOW the spread. When people use the phrase “Flatten the Curve,” they’re talking about a graph representing the number of daily cases over time. This graph from the CDC illustrates the goal of social distancing: a reduction in the outbreak’s peak. We want to slow the spread of the virus, so a sudden increase doesn’t overwhelm our ability to respond.
The most important part of the graph is the location of the peak relative to the line showing the limits of our health care system. The worst case of a big spike in COVID-19 would be health care rationing!
The Need for Kindness
In the U.S., crossing that health care line would be especially alarming because it tends to be our wealthy that get access to any scarce resource even before low-income folks who might need it more. High-risk medical populations and people experiencing poverty would be most in danger. The virus would spread quickly through people unable to self-isolate, including hourly employees without savings and homeless populations.
Isn’t it the most noble thing we can do…to use our personal actions to protect the most vulnerable? Isn’t it an exercise in kindness to protect the lives of our elders, our neighbors in ill health, and people struggling through this crisis in poverty?
Stephen and April
Folks are worried. They’re scared and asking for our help. Read two stories from my friends who depend on our actions and herd immunity to keep them safe.
Steven lives in Syracuse, NY, and is awaiting a kidney for transplant. I follow him on Twitter because the way he expresses his love of his family, Disney, and video games. He also tweets about what life is like waiting every day for a kidney donor.
“For me, I worry about being able to get dialysis as well as my increased potential for infection due to being immunocompromised. In all those articles where they talk about the people most at risk…well, that’s me.
I’ve fought for so long to survive for my family. I don’t want to get sick and have to try and fight this…and if I have to go to the hospital, can I get dialysis? Will they be too overwhelmed? See, I can’t put off dialysis. It’s not something I can stop doing for a while. I HAVE to do it. Or I die. So, I worry about that. Then I worry about being able to pay our bills. We’re stretched as thin as butter over too much bread as it is. We’re not sure if my wife can work the next few weeks, either. And my “safety cushion” savings got used up long ago.”
April of St Louis, MO is one of the strongest women I know and not just because she’s my Taekwondo instructor! She’s not a complainer. When injured, pushes through pain as she performs jump kicks and other physically demanding feats in our workouts. Most people wouldn’t think she’s medically at risk.
“I’m really tired of how little concern some people are showing for those of us who would contract a serious case of COVID-19 and could die from this. Your jokes about the flu also are not comforting or funny. I end up in the hospital every flu season. I won’t be one of the “mild” cases, so when you make fun of those of us who are showing concern and taking caution, you’re showing me you really don’t care about my well-being. Please stop. I am scared and if you can’t be a decent human being and empathize with those of us who aren’t as lucky and healthy as you are, please just do us all a favor and don’t say anything at all.“
What Can We Do?
Author Cindy Wang Brant posted an image of this brainstorming exercise a family did with “Family Quarantine of Love” written on top to remind them that these sacrifices are acts of love.
This is an original post written by Cynthia Changyit Levin for World Moms Network.
Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.