Learn how a mom managed the logistics of her family when she found out her husband and 4-year-old daughter tested positive for COVID-19.
Coronavirus — you’ve heard of it, maybe? It’s a messy time we’re living in, folks, and I thought as an adult I’d have the answers. Yet, here I am with more questions than ever before. Even our leaders change their positions. We hear different guidance from different people: wear cloth masks; cloth masks are useless; it can live on surfaces for 72 hours; it doesn’t live long on surfaces. Scientists have to change their positions as new studies come out and we learn more about this very new virus. I’m trying to keep up with the news and I don’t know what to believe! But I know this — we got it. COVID-19 hit our house.
Disclaimer: I am a mother of 4 with a full-time gig, a part-time side-gig, and I’m working on a doctorate degree right now. AND WE GOT THE CORONAVIRUS. Yes, I know COVID-19 is scary. But, y’all? If I don’t find humor in the sitch, I’m gonna go straight-up, know what I mean? So, there is a little COVID humor here, because it’s how I deal when things are so unpredictable. So, if finding the light side in all this is offensive to you, please, stop reading now. M’kay?
Still with me? Great! Thanks! I’ll start by saying that I’m a rampant germaphobe, always have been. Like, BAD. Avoiding touching things is nothing new. I don’t touch menus, ATM machines, or salt and pepper shakers on a restaurant table. I have “Walmart clothes”– anyone else have “Walmart clothes?” They’re not clothes FROM Walmart. They’re clothes that I wear TO Walmart. Then I change after I get home. Same with any space where there are a lot of people in close proximity to each other– the stadium, the subway– all require a change of clothes when I get home. I’m just weird like that.
In the beginning of all this COVID-19 stuff, I thought it was a little overblown. But I listened to people who are smarter than I am, such as my doctor friends, and I read the data. I listened to the stories about healthy people who were in the hospital because of this virus and I stopped rolling my eyes over it. It was serious.
We followed the quarantine directives. We sent one person to the grocery store every two weeks. I worked from home. My children stayed home. Our vacations were cancelled. And honestly? Parts of it were kind of nice. I could work on my studies until late into the night. I could sleep in late. I could wear yoga pants everyday.
But on the other hand, the kids’ schools shut down, including the twins’ preschool. They were all at home, were at each others’ throats constantly, and I don’t think I’ve ever consumed so much alcohol as I did during the quarantine. Coffee in the mornings, a glass of wine with lunch, and another with dinner. I’m normally kind of a teetotaler, but I was fixing some crazy-amazing meals, and wine just went with them, natch.
Months passed. Things were opening up a little. Preschool opened up. Restaurants were opening. Things were looking up! One night, my husband came home from work running a slight temperature. I urged him to go to a walk-in clinic because, COVID, duh! He did so, and the doctor assured him that it was likely nothing, and certainly not COVID. He just didn’t have the symptoms. The next morning, he took the twins to preschool. Later that day, he started feeling BAD. He went back to the doctor, insisted on a COVID test, and it came back next-day. He was positive. I immediately picked up the twins from preschool as soon as he went back to see the doctor that second time.
The next day our 4-year-old girl twin started with a low temp. All 6 of us were tested. She was positive. So now my daughter was the first child that young that I was aware of in our area to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Of course, I was terrified. I worried for her safety. I mean, I love my husband and all that, but this is my tiny baby! Would she be okay? Would she be hospitalized? Would she survive? What would her twin do without her while she’s quarantined away from him? They’re all over each other constantly — would he get it too? What if the worst happened? She went immediately into quarantine with her father, away from the rest of us.
Quarantine looked a little different for us than it does for most people. Here in the Midwest, most people have basements and many of those basements have decent finished living space such as bedrooms and bathrooms. We are lucky to have a couple of residences outside of our home and that is where my husband and daughter set up shop for their quarantine.
Additionally, though, it is important to note that even though our other three children and I tested negative, we were still quarantined for two weeks, just in case we started to show symptoms. Living in a small town, there is NO “sneaking out”– someone will see you! My husband was reported for visiting a store during quarantine, and he never even went outdoors to stand on the deck! Yikes… So, to get food to the COVID-crew, I couldn’t leave the house to do it. Instead, we relied on amazing friends who shopped for both the positive and the negative-quarantiners. Our small town has I think ONE option for delivery, and the COVID-crew took advantage of that. They ordered online, tipped online, and stated, “COVID-positive, please leave by door. Do not touch the doorknob, knock, or ring bell.” When anyone brought things to the house where I was with the remaining three children, I usually just had them leave items outside the garage. Sometimes, they would bring them in for my convenience, but I certainly never wanted to ask anyone to do that. We were extremely mindful to keep others safe.
Others in our community either exiled their COVID-positive family to the basement, if there was living space, or they just did their best to stay in their bedrooms, serve food to them there, and then use separate bathrooms if possible. If shared bathrooms are inevitable, then the general modus operandi is to wear gloves and disinfect surfaces often.
Have I said yet that COVID sucks? It does. On a self-serving level, now I’m working (still from home), my husband is quarantined and sick, I’m still working on the doctorate, I’m raising my three remaining children by myself (who are home ALLDAYEVERYDAY), and I’m fighting a $@^%* plague. SAHHH-WEET.
Then there are the murder hornets, but honestly, by this point I’m thinking, “Bring it on… bring on the murder hornets, the flying snakes, and all the things, because this situation is absolute hell, and I AM SO BEYOND DONE.” People were angry because preschool was forced to shut down again (thanks to my CoronaTot), which was cool because it wasn’t as if having a toddler with COVID wasn’t enough to deal with. The remaining three children needed nourishment CONSTANTLY (how can kids need so many snacks?!?), I was required to take everyone’s temperature 3 times a day and record it, and one of my dude-brood would inevitably yell during my doctoral Zoom calls, “Maaaaaahhhhmmmm! Wipe my BUUUUUTTT!” It was a nightmare.
But to every bad there is always something good. Life is kind of funny like that. People messaged constantly out of genuine concern. I cannot tell you how many people stepped up to help our family and me. People drove 40 minutes for groceries. They brought the kids dodge balls so we could play in the backyard. They made chicken soup for the quarantined ones. They did our shopping. They brought the children activity buckets filled with fun things to do. THEY BROUGHT WINE, Y’ALL. Lots of wine was left on my doorstep. So, there was a LOT of suck. But there was also a LOT of sweet.
I read once that sometimes you have to take life one “are you *&^%*& kidding me?” at a time, and never was that so true. We were lucky — COVID wasn’t so bad to our family. Both fevers went away on their own untreated, and they both only felt under-the-weather for a day. Many others aren’t so lucky. But my husband and daughter got a little bonding time for two weeks, I felt like I got closer to my boy twin, and they were all finally reunited, and so ecstatic to be back together again.
If I had any advice to offer (that would indicate that I’ve gained a certain amount of wisdom, which is, in itself questionable at best), it’s just to do your best to roll with the punches. Practice kindness and good hygiene. And take 2020 one “are you *&^&@* kidding me” at a time. And wine helps. Stay well, friends.
Stacey Bibb lives in rural Missouri, near St. Louis. She is a wife and mother of 4, including 4-year-old boy/girl twins. She works as a psychological examiner, and is currently earning her doctorate in College/University Leadership. When she’s not busy with work, family, or crying herself to sleep over her dissertation (wait, what?) she loves traveling, fashion, and beauty. When not in her home state of Missouri, you can find Stacey and her family exploring the boroughs of NYC.