Just me, my toddler, and a pandemic

Schools in my area started closing down first, before any businesses or even bars. While it unnerved me, my son was in daycare. I was still going to work and as a single mom whose family is on the other side of the country, I rely on daycare entirely. Before this I’d sometimes work from home so I could get certain errands done, or even just take a nap. I need daycare. 

Some daycares began to close down, following suit of the surrounding schools; mine remained open. I took my son there on a Friday and the daycare teacher said he was likely to be the only kid there that day, that she was going to talk with her licenser later to see if they should stay open. When I picked my son up she said they’d stay open for now. Two days later, Sunday night, the governor closed all restaurants, bars, schools, and other non-essential businesses, so I knew it was coming. Daycare wasn’t included yet, but I saw the tidal wave. 

My CEO sent an email out the same night saying if we could work from home to do so, that only engineers running experiments should go in. But my boss wanted my team to go in for our Monday meeting. The rage I felt, that I knew was fueled by fear, was unlike I’d felt in a while. When my CEO saw me come in and asked why I was there, I cracked. I was frustrated, overwhelmed, afraid- how was I going to manage a freshly minted toddler (one on pandemic day) on my own and work full time from home? How long was this going to last? How could my (new) boss be so inconsiderate to have us come in when the CEO had said not to? This was probably the last day I had daycare available to me; I should go shopping, rest, prepare my home, gird my f#€<*¥g loins for whatever was ahead of us. The biggest fear was not knowing anything. 

My son’s daycare closed that night. All daycare in the state shut down Wednesday.

The first couple of weeks my workload increased. I had no help but thankfully, my son is adaptable. When it became clear this was going to be longer than a couple of weeks I began scouring for help: I asked other friends with kids if they wanted to group together- they didn’t; I begged my unemployed friends to help, I offered to pay- they wanted to isolate; I asked for recommendations from my moms groups- all the people they suggested had committed elsewhere. 

I finally got a friend who’d lost her job as a pastry chef to help. Originally, I’d held out accepting her help because she was still going to work once a week, which involved being less than two feet from someone who relied on the subway to get to work. Eventually the cafe decided they weren’t having anyone come in who wasn’t a manager, to keep their employees safe and healthy. She was the only one available to help and now that she couldn’t go to work, I felt ok about her coming into my home. She got sick after the second week though. It’s been two weeks since she was last here.

My last option for help was my son’s father. His only time with our son has been 2 hours every other week since he was three months old. Just asking for help turned into an argument: I thought he had an obligation as his father, but he’s, “really busy with work.” Eventually he started coming twice a week for a couple of hours. But he can never just do something nice, there always has to be a catch: he’s either inappropriate and sexual around me, ignores my son and is on his phone constantly, says unkind and disrespectful things to me, tells me how to parent… the list goes on. So I struggle with the “help” I get, the two hours I can work with less distraction, and the emotional burden that accompanies it. I want him to go away. I wish I didn’t need the help. 

Today the governor pushed the re-opening of schools and daycares to June 29. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve been taking this time in bite size chunks of weeks. But, with two months looming over me now, I feel defeated. In so many ways I’m fortunate: I’m employed, my son and I are healthy, I’m able to get grocery deliveries, I’m not alone. I don’t know how to manage working with an incredibly active 13-month-old for another two months though. Not just logistically but sanity-wise. I feel stuck and lost, and like this isn’t what I signed up for when I chose to be a single mom.

toddler

This blog post was contributed anonymously. It is part of a series attempting to share the many different stories of individuals as they experience the coronavirus pandemic. Please be respectful of the views and beliefs of others if they are different than your own. If you or someone you know have a story you would like to share (anonymously or not), please feel free to send me a message or comment here.

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