I know my friends were starting to wonder if I was losing it a bit when I started ramping up my posting about the impending Coronavirus pandemic last week. This week my pages went off the rails with about ten times more posts than I normally share. What a lot of my social media friends and peers may not know, is that in my previous life I spent three years working for an airline in the Emergency Response Department. While at the airline I responded to many crises (thankfully never an aviation disaster) and attended countless industry emergency response conferences and drills. It’s where I developed a practice of heeding the wisdom of trained and trusted experts and working to incorporate their recommendations into my home life. I do my best, but really I’m still a typical consumer who has too much stuff, wastes too much and isn’t as socially and environmentally responsible as I should be.
I also realize that any concerns I have about the coming weeks and months are colored with a good dose of the privilege of living in a a country with normally easy access to resources. Even still, I am an independent artist and single mom. I don’t have a regular paycheck and since my main source of income comes from producing content for companies, these shut downs leave me with a sickening feeling about my already tenuous finances. Like so many of my colleagues, we’re scrambling to figure out how we can take our services and find ways to offer them online, but it’s no easy feat. There were plenty of artists already struggling to do this before COVID-19 entered the picture. That is a scary reality that will definitely keep me up at night.
I knew that based on the information coming in that we needed to begin social distancing and that it would be wise to just post up at home (only going out when necessary.) We are lucky enough to be able to taking advantage of the open spaces and parks where we can get fresh air and exercise while not putting ourselves or others at risk! More important than us getting coronavirus, as we would likely recover, was not being carriers of the virus and inadvertently transmitting it to someone else in a high risk category. It was time for me to think about how my actions could harm other people in unintended but potentially fatal ways. I felt that isolating myself and my kid wasn’t asking too much.
I knew what I needed to do, had the knowledge about how to prepare and was willing to at least make an attempt at it. The realization that shook me was that as a single parent (with an ex-husband states away,) if something happened to me my kid would be stuck. If I get sick then she has been exposed and would need to self-quarantine for 14 days. There wouldn’t be another parent to step in while I quarantined myself in my bedroom (as advised by medical experts.) Both of my parents, who would happily take her, are in high risk categories – and in reality there would be no good situation. Any member of my family or our awesome village who might want to help would be putting themselves and their household at risk if they tried to step in and take her. That realization was the terrifying one.
In an effort to not get paralyzed in a state of fear, I did what I had been trained to do – I started to scour trusted sites for information about the transmission of COVID-19, the risks to my community, the recommendations from the trained and trusted experts and began to make my plan. Totally distracted from my work, I turned to getting myself and my household set up so I could prepare foods that could be warmed up in case I wasn’t able to make meals. I got both junk food and healthy options so when the cabin fever got us, at least we’d have goodies to nosh on while still nourishing our bodies to keep our immune systems strong and hopefully resilient.
I went on the hand sanitizer scavenger hunt like so many others and finally ended up finding 91% alcohol at a Walmart and aloe vera gel at a Vitamin Store. This was after scouring 8 other stores to no avail on Tuesday evening. I began to pick up inexpensive items that would go the distance like dried beans, cans of diced tomatoes and bouillon cubes. At least if we ran out of fresh foods, I could make a good soup or chili. I knew that if I really got in trouble I’d be able to order stuff online or have a friend leave a package at our door, but why not take necessary precautions while I could.
As the news continued to emerge about the lack of testing happening here in the US, I realized that we were going to be in worse shape than I initially anticipated. The Good Morning America interview with NIH official Dr. Anthony Fauci made me realize I needed to also think about what other things I was going to be able to do with my kid to keep her from becoming a Netflix zombie (nothing against either Netflix or zombies, but we need a bit of balance too.) We talked about what activities we had access to at home and I thought of longer term crafts like sewing. While the grocery stores were crushed to the limit, I scooped up a few yards of fabric on sale at a nearly empty craft store. It wasn’t the first time this week I’d been there. Earlier in the week that had been one of the wildcard places I went in search of hand sanitizer. I thought I was so clever, but I guess the regular crafters had me beat!
We’re only on day 1 of social isolation for me and day 3 for her (she’s been relaxing and catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds and On my Block and finding all the junk food) while I’ve been gathering supplies and news. If today is any indication, it’s going to be a long haul! I’ve instituted some basic, we are not cave people, rules. Every day there will be showers taken, fresh air consumed with exercise at a local park or open space, craft/activity time and tv blackout time. Since she’s on Spring Break from school I’m not going to make her do school work. That should come in two weeks or so. It’ll be tough to manage cell phone usage when the tv’s off (honestly for both of us,) but hopefully we’ll get back to doing things together like reading, playing board games and making yummy stuff that can be broken down and put in the freezer for the coming weeks.
Thankfully I’m well connected with people who are sharing awesome resources for parents, artists and human beings in general. I’m sharing the wealth below:
- CDC Resources for Home – Plan, prepare, and respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
- Find free meals and safe spaces for students while schools are closed (Philadelphia region)
- PECO Expands Assistance Programs to Support All Customers During Coronavirus Pandemic
- Breed Prohibits Evictions of Tenants Who Can’t Make Rent Due to Coronavirus
- Neighbors helping Neighbors: Request For Aid – Philly Mutual Aid for Folks affected by COVID-19
- Social Distancing – This is Not A Snow Day
- Metropolitan Opera, After Shutting Its Doors, Will Offer Free Streams From Live in HD Catalog
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Coronavirus
We are all heading into uncharted territory. It’s daunting, scary and an opportunity to take the precious moments we have to re-connect (with appropriate social distancing) with our loved ones, friends, peers and our global community. The Coronavirus is uniting the entire world in one epic fight. Hopefully we’ll start coming together for our common good and ensure that we are finding ways to protect and support the most vulnerable individuals.
If you’ve got great ideas on resources for single parents and artist/entrepreneur/gig workers who are also parents please leave a comment. The best thing about the internet is that we are only one click away from support, connection and hope.
Stay well and take care of each other!
PS – Below are links if you want to contribute to my work or my coronavirus survival. If you are a person of means, please be on the lookout for how you can support the gig/service/artist/entrepreneurs out there who give so much but operate without a safety net:
- Cashapp – $Tsaint4
- My Patreon page – https://www.patreon.com/TeaspoonandPound
- Tax deductible donations to my work