To know me is to know how much I value quality time spent with family. When Sloan was born, my parents, who live in the Bay Area, made a point of seeing us every three to four weeks, either in L.A. or up north. The last few months of shelter-in-place mark the longest we've gone without seeing each other in person for quite some time, and to say it's been challenging would be an understatement.
For us and for Sloan, who's extremely close with my parents, it might be the hardest thing yet about quarantine. I know they miss being able to see Sloan grow in person but, overall, I feel extremely fortunate that getting creative with how we connect virtually is among our greatest challenges right now. It is not lost on me that this is not the current reality for most.
While my parents both fall in a high-risk age demographic, they are both in relatively good health and are able to stay comfortably at home right now. For the most part, I don't feel like I have to worry about them too much, which is an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders in a time of otherwise very high anxiety. But sometimes, especially during an emotionally trying day, I find myself going there and thinking about all of the "what ifs."
Just before stay at home orders were formally put into place, my dad was sent to urgent care because he was having difficulty breathing and was experiencing extreme fatigue. At the time, our first thought was not of COVID-19 (we still are not positive if he had it) and he was sent home with an inhaler, antibiotics, and a steroid. I'm happy to report that after a few weeks of discomfort, his symptoms went away. Looking forward, I think about the fact that my mom is a dental hygienist, one of the professions most vulnerable to contracting this disease, according to some sources, and wonder if and when she will be able to safely return to work. The unanswered questions and list of potential threats can seem hauntingly endless, and I am still learning how to give my emotions validation without allowing them to become all consuming. (Aren't we all?) For now, I do my best to remain anchored in the little things I do have control over. Namely, the incredible amount of additional time our family is fortunate to still spend with my parents virtually!
In many ways, we see much more of each other now than any of us ever had the time for before. I talk to my parents throughout the day and, most nights of the week, we come together for a Facetime happy hour so that they can see Sloan before she begins to wind down for the night. My mom has been a major source of help in "babysitting" Sloan over video call, gifting both G and me a chance to re-coop in the moments we need it (all parents do!) and attend to work meetings sans distractions.
My mom has a doll at their place (usually reserved for Sloan when we go up to visit) that she will bring out for imaginary play with Sloan during their FaceTimes together. And, in case you were wondering, the doll's name is Penelope and she and Sloan's dolls have become fast best friends. Sloan and my parents have also really enjoyed using the app Caribu, which was designed for children and grandparents to engage in storytelling, coloring, and general fun!
From time to time, we've also been connecting by sending each other little gifts in the mail. From the practical—I sent my dad a bottle of his favorite gin when they ran out and they sent Lysol wipes when we couldn't find any in LA— to the heartfelt, like Sloan's Mother's Day art projects and handmade mother-daughter necklaces my mom made for us. These little gifts have served as precious reminders that we are always together, no matter how far apart we may actually be.
Though I have genuinely come to enjoy the daily FaceTime walks (I recently got my mom a pair of AirPods so that her older headphones wouldn't die during our hour-long get togethers!) and cocktails, I can't help but wonder when the next time we'll be able to come together in real life might be.
In my hopeful moments, I envision us soon being able to safely make the trip to Northern California, stopping only for gas and taking very serious safety precautions along the way. But, as enticing as my dad's cooking and cozy summer nights in their hot tub sound, I feel it is my responsibility to continue staying put for now and not opening up greater possibility for contagion. If that is the small role I can play in making a difference, I want to take it seriously. As with everyone, I don't know what the next few months will bring, but for now, I'm thankful for our health and for meaningful relationships that withstand the distance.
I would love to know how you are your loved ones have remained connected during this time. Please send any and all recommendations in the comments! x