Stories and Viewpoints

Parenting During a Pandemic Leads to New Perspectives

Erika reflects on the challenges and silver linings of being a working parent during the pandemic.

 

By: Erika Satterwhite

 

 

My son turned one in early April 2020, a few weeks into pandemic lockdown. I baked him his first cake, and we told ourselves not to be too sad he wouldn’t get a birthday party. Surely, we thought, soon we can see family and friends again, and daycare will re-open, and we can celebrate then. As the weeks slid into months, and we continued to be home, balancing full time remote work alongside full time childcare as daycare stayed closed, the reality of our new normal set in. Exhaustion, stress, anxiety, all balanced with the silver lining of spending more time with my son and the joy of seeing him reach milestones that otherwise would have happened while I was at the office.

By the time he turned two in April 2021, daycare had reopened, and he had a little party outside in the schoolyard with his classmates. A few months later, he became a big brother as we added a newborn to our daily calculus of pandemic risk. Soon, my son will turn three, and all he has ever known is the pandemic. He asks for a mask when we leave the house. He is used to getting ‘nose tickles’ – the weekly COVID rapid test required by daycare. He will probably have a birthday party this year, but it will likely still be outside unless vaccines are miraculously made available for kids under 5 before March. 

 

I worry a lot, now. I worry every day that we will get a call from daycare that someone in the class tested positive, and we are stuck for ten days in quarantine with no childcare support, once again balancing full-time work and full-time parenting in a way that feels impossible, now with a baby and a toddler.

And despite all my worry, I know how tremendously lucky I am. I feel guilty for being this worried – no one in my family has had a serious case of COVID, no one has had to forego other medical care as a result of COVID risk, no one is an essential worker facing tough choices between feeling unsafe at work or keeping food on the table. I have been able to do my job fully remote, with the absolute support of my colleagues when I’ve had to prioritize being a mom. The community of people who make up this company are truly incredible, and at many times over the last two years have been my support system.

The pandemic has pushed me to take a step back and refocus on the importance of family, of getting outside for a walk, of prioritizing self-care and mental health. Even when the pandemic finally feels ‘over’, and I can put down some of my worries, these are the things I will continue carrying with me. 

 

“ The community of people who make up this company are truly incredible, and at many times over the last two years have been my support system."Erika Satterwhite, Head of Global Policy
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