This is the fourth week of this series. The first two were stories from a couple of folks at risk for the virus by age. Part three of the series, shifted focus to a younger, less at-risk member of our community. This story threads the needle between the younger and older generation. This may resonate a bit more for those in their middle years of life, now sheltering behind the closed doors. My hope remains that although our stories aren’t the same, there is a commonality between them, that we will relate too.
This interview was with a member of our community in her early fifties. A working mother with a husband and two teenage children still at home. One is a senior in high school and another is attending a local college. A third child is currently away at college in their senior year. She works in a local dental office. He works for a governmental agency. He also had a second part-time paid job. Both are active in community organizations including club sports and non-profit services. They have other family residing nearby. Currently they are okay and managing their financial concerns but worry that the longer this goes on, the harder that will be.
Finances were a juggling act even before the pandemic hit. Attempting to manage bills with two children already in college and another getting ready to attend; trying to build up retirement funds and reduce debt as their golden years approach. Now they are stressed and worried about their financial future. The oldest college student, a senior, might have to take an extra semester to graduate now. They watch as the retirement fund takes a massive hit. Her full-time work has become part time with half days three times a week. The dental office is only seeing emergency patients. His second part-time paid job wasn’t essential, so that income is gone. His governmental job has him working well over 40 hours because as a safety manager he must coordinate the protocols and pandemic response for his employer.
Being sheltered in place in a small house with four people and multiple pets has its challenges. Sometimes it feels too small, not enough space, while being forced together all the time. Yet she acknowledges that getting to spend more time with her kids is a blessing too. It’s also a challenge to make sure the kids understand the importance of staying inside and taking precautions. Visiting friends physically, even if practicing social distances, can’t be done. They must learn to visit online or over the phone. One child is a bit luckier than the other. Their job at a fast food establishment is still good to go to. They are good at practicing the safety protocols for those still working; but that only reduces a mother’s concern somewhat. The other child wasn’t as lucky as her job went away when the business shut down.
She misses her co-workers and friends. She’s worried her dental office won’t be able to reopen anytime soon, if ever. She’s watching too much television and often finds herself in a funk. She’s sad her senior is going to miss all the great things about the end of their senior year. She also regrets that the sporting events for the kids are lost this spring and perhaps summer. Although eating out is a lot less, she’s eating more and gaining unwanted weight. She also misses hugging folks or visiting her parents. What little contact, not online, is nothing more than a drop off, with items left on the doorstep.
On the other hand, she’s broken out the sewing machine; is interacting a bit on social media with friends; is trying to find distractions such as making masks for family and friends. She tries to avoid too much news about the pandemic. She wants to be informed but not overwhelmed. Like many of us, she wonders what life is going to be like after we get back to work, busy again with our jobs and daily activities. She hopes that we don’t lose focus on the things in our life that really matter once this is over.
As always, I want to thank her for sharing their story with us. It’s not easy to share your story. However, if you’re interested in sharing your story with me for Part Five of this series, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, stay safe and be well.