Grandparenting in a Pandemic

Epidemiologists and Dystopian Science Fiction Fans have known for many years that it would likely be a virus that decimated the humans on this planet. But no one ever really believes it will happen in their time. Even if they did, they probably did not think realistically about how we would handle our next generation.

We have to think about it now.

Our older daughter surprised us with her announcement at a combination Birthday & Father’s Day celebration dinner (She was her Dad’s first Father’s Day present!) that she and her husband would welcome the first grandchild of our immediate family in late January 2021. We were stunned. We were elated and excited and all the happy things you would imagine.

Then we started thinking about the realities of being pregnant, having a newborn, deciding when to go back to work, the childcare issues (Don’t kid yourself; it is HUGE.) and all of this in a pandemic that shows little sign of “simply disappearing” as certain politicians would have us believe.

Would the new Dad be able to be a part of the birth? He hasn’t been allowed in the checkups. Would she have to labor and give birth with only nurses and her doctor in attendance? How soon would Dad get to see/hold/bond with the new little person they create?

So much uncertainty, and so we have been thinking of what we can do to help.

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This “Mask-erade” – COVID19

Woman MaskedWe know that masks are going to be with us for a while and for different reasons, you may wear different kinds of masks. Professional folks have a challenge if they want to look good and have a well-fitting mask that allows them to communicate clearly. Our condominium requires masks in all common areas and we think it is a great idea. No one wants a pandemic to break out in a condo tower, right?

My husband has very short hair and a beard, and so a mask that has two elastic bands around his head works best for him. He also has some tie on running style masks that he wears out to the trail.

Neither of those styles works for me because I wear my hair loose and curly most of the time and I am just asking for a hump on the back of my head from the elastic strap or hair tangled and torn out as I tie a mask on in the back.

I needed adjustable ear loops. As I ordered a few masks to try them out, I found that a nose wire or clip was just the thing to keep the mask up on my nose and reduce the fogging of my sunglasses. I know those of you who wear glasses to see, deal with this issue all the time! I learned that a valve on a mask was a bad idea and just sprayed your breath into the air, along with any viruses it might carry.

I also learned that a great many people around me who were wearing masks were wearing them incorrectly. That got scary as the numbers of infections surged and I was seeing masks under noses, pulled up so they could talk, and often simply hanging by one ear because they had forgotten to pull it back up.

I realized that the major issue that caused the mask to pull down from the nose is that most of them are too short. Masks I ordered online were 5 – 5.5 inches long and you know, that is just fine when you put it on and look in the mirror.

It is not so fine when you try to talk.

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Limited Mobility – Finding Alternatives

During the first few months of sheltering in place from COVID-19, I went on long, solo walks. They engaged my mind and body and helped to replace the workouts at the gym I was accustomed to doing three times a week. I saw parts of my downtown I had never had the time or inclination to explore before, and even with a mask on, the air was fresh and clean. The occasional back alley or full dumpster just added texture to the experience! 🙂

My knees had been giving me some pain for a while before COVID, but after doing these walks I realized that they were getting worse, and the right one was radiating pain all up and down my leg that was not relieved with stretching or anything else I did.

I got to the point that I had to lift my right leg into the car and into bed! Continue reading

Mentoring and Covid-19

I received a certificate from Seedling Mentoring last week, celebrating seven years of mentoring children who deal with parental incarceration. I have worked with Seedling since its inception fifteen years ago (Board Member, etc.) and for the last few years, I have been active on its Advisory Council and doing weekly mentoring in Austin’s public schools.

I am paired with my second mentee now, and we have been together for Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade and we have become good friends. I don’t take that lightly. Children of trauma let you into their lives in various ways and layers of depth and it took me a year to earn a hug from this little one.

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In the Meanwhile – Life in the Time of Covid19

Cedar Door Restaurant Mural

Cedar Door Restaurant Mural, Downtown Austin, TX

I have no huge or dramatic Covid story to tell. At least, not yet. My experience has been a fairly placid one, filled with privilege (A place to live, my husband is still employed and working remotely, my children are healthy, also employed, and sheltering in place with their families and pups.), and with blessings both big and small. As they say, “Nothing to see here, move along.”

Meanwhile…

A preacher once said, “In the Bible, God is always working in the ‘meanwhile’,” and although I thought I understood what he was saying at the time, I think I understand it better now.

In the meanwhile, my husband and I have discovered deeper ways in which we are compatible and we have improved our communication.

In the meanwhile, weekly Zoom conferences with my mother and with our daughters and their families have provided love and laughter across the distance between us.

In the meanwhile, I have been able to participate in funding grants to our hard-hit local nonprofits, through distance meeting technology that was only used if “you really had to” just a short time ago. Continue reading