Calder is officially one month old. She’s smack in the middle of the sleepy newborn stage, all snorts and stretches and very tiny yawns. She snoozes on our bellies in the daytime like a very small and warm weighted blanket—and I can’t imagine a better time for weighted blankets.
I made plans two weeks ago to officially end my maternity leave this week. Without a formal leave of any kind, I always knew I’d need to return to work relatively quickly after Calder was born and besides that, I was feeling ready. James is on a partially paid parental leave thanks to New York State Paid Family Leave and the flexibility of his employer and with him here, I’ve been able to continue to dip into the behind-the-scenes upkeep and planning required of this space. This week, I was excited to dive back into the public-facing side of things.
Needless to say, this is not the first post I planned to publish. I certainly didn’t imagine I’d be writing it while hunched over my kids’ pre-k-sized desk, my entire family in the next room (or, helpfully, perched directly beside me, on top of me, and behind me).
It’s strange to consider that before last week, I’d been almost entirely sheltered from the term social distancing, to say nothing of the practice. I blithely watched my kids swing on monkey bars and cavalierly waited in line at the grocery store, exchanging cash and pleasantries. Standing at the sink and washing my hands to the tune of Happy Birthday had never before occurred to me.
As the world over grapples with the reality of social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the experience and degree of habit shifting will vary widely from household to household and person to person. For folks who are immunocompromised, or who care for those who are, social distancing is not unfamiliar, yet we all find ourselves in unprecedented times.
In New York City this week, we’re seeing the official closure of public schools and the shuttering of movie theaters, libraries and museums, nightclubs and entertainment venues. Restaurants, and cafés, and bars will be closed to public visitors, shifting to delivery only. Businesses large and small have already closed and others are making efforts to stay open through no-contact deliveries and online sales.
The ramifications of these measures are stunning to consider. It’s mind boggling to imagine, especially in a country without a social safety net, how people will make ends meet, how kids will be cared for, how communities will stay afloat and continue to function. As always, the most vulnerable among us will bear the highest cost. Still, there’s no question that social distancing is imperative to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. The consequences of not making these shifts would be far more dire.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll need to find ways to protect each other and to demand the same of our government. There are too many for whom staying home isn’t an option—folks who lack the job security or sick leave or flexibility to work remotely. And there are the folks who we all depend on to keep the essentials running: doctors and healthcare workers and caregivers, custodians, service workers, grocery store employees, delivery workers and postal carriers, among countless others.
For my part, I hope to find a way to continue to work and to care for my family from the confines of this tiny apartment. I hope I can offer some comfort and some ideas for navigating this moment. In a strange stroke of good timing, tomorrow I launch a partnership project that’s been months in the making—an online class that I’m hoping provides a bit of inspiration for folks feeling stuck. On Instagram, I’m compiling a running list of ideas and activities that my family is finding helpful as we shift our habits together. You can find the list under the story highlight called Social Together.
More than anything, I’m hopeful that in the midst of all this distancing we remember how very much we’re all in this together.