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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin

Socially Confused

I'm socially confused. Let me start at the beginning...

My 3 year old daughter and I are immune compromised. We have a condition called hypogammaglobulinemia, and while I won't bore you with the details, it basically means our bodies don't produce enough gamma, leaving us with lower antibodies and putting us at high risk for any type of infection. I share this with you so that you can imagine my stress level and worry with this whole COVID-19 crisis. When this first began back in March, and schools closed, my family stayed in a bubble. My husband only went out for groceries, and when he did, I felt like a wife sending her spouse off to war...he was masked, had gloves if needed, and hand sanitizer. When he got home, he would change his clothes, wash vigorously and I would clean all of the groceries and items with cleaning spray or wipes. I took this seriously. We have friends and family members who are nurses, phlebotomists, and work in the medical field, and I felt strongly that it was disrespectful to not socially distance, when they were putting their lives on the line to treat and care for those who got sick. Bottom line, big picture, I took, and take, this virus seriously.

As a licensed counselor, and certified parent coach, I am well aware of the potential negative consequences that socially distancing could have on our children. My boys live for their sports, so having basketball season shut down early, and flag football canceled all together, was beyond disappointing for them. They went from practice 5 nights a week, to home everyday, and it happened so quickly that it was as if a rug was pulled out from under them. It went from, our lives are normal, to...oh, wait, no, they aren't....they are actually nothing like they use to be; no school, no sports, no playing with friends, no birthday parties, no cookouts, no sleepovers at their grandparents, no hugging anyone who doesn't live with you, no field days, no graduations, no proms, no looking someone in the eye in person and feeling connected with them, no beach days, no Red Sox Games, no museums, no Disney World, no toilet paper...

I know that my children need to feel connected. They need a sense of community, and they need to have some hopeful anticipation. Hope is key. If we don't have hope, if we don't have something to look forward to, the emotional impact could be catastrophic. So the internal conflict began. If I don't make my children socially distance, they could catch this potentially deadly virus, and who knows what will happen; some children are asymptomatic, some have the symptoms of a cold, others have respiratory distress and end up in the hospital on a ventilator, some show strange signs of inflammation and heart failure, and others, they've died. If I do make them socially distance, I may be jeopardizing their social and emotional well-being, their mental health, potentially causing trauma and who knows what you see, I'm socially confused.

I hate this virus. I hate it more than I could figure out how to explain or communicate to you here, and writing is kind of my thing. If I could meet up with this virus in a dark alley somewhere and handle business, I swear, I would. But there's nothing I can do personally to resolve this deep, dark, nasty virus issue, other than do my part to make sure I'm not spreading it. So, we continue to socially distance. Only my husband goes shopping, or to the stores when we need something. We have scheduled zoom calls, virtual card games, bingo nights, and many other creative opportunities for my children to see their friends over the screen, talk, laugh, and try to forget this COVID-19 nightmare. My children play outside every day, for as long and as much as possible. Thankfully, we live in a neighborhood where we are surrounded by families, so we don't often feel isolated or alone. Sometimes we picnic with our blankets six feet apart, or the kids ride bikes on opposite sides of the street...but I'm constantly reminding them to take the space they need to protect themselves and others.

I'm torn, and worried, and done, and socially confused all at once. Each morning I remind myself to be gracious that we are all healthy, that we have a roof over our heads, healthy and clean food to eat, clean clothes, running water, electricity, and technology that allows us a second best way to reach out to our friends and family, but the sadness and confusion are always lingering. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, and that's scary, but I am going to continue to try my best to trust my mama bear instincts and follow my heart when making the decisions of what I feel is right for my family.

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