I would not describe myself as a helicopter mum. I don’t hover over my kids, and I 100% believe in natural consequences as the best teacher for most life lessons when it comes to my children. But when it comes to Covid related policy, I don’t trust the general public to be honest about who is vaccinated and who is not. And so, as my state lifts the mask mandate, I am finding it challenging to bring my family into this new post-pandemic world. Not every family will feel safe entering the post-vaccine normalcy, and people need to respectful of that.
My husband and I pulled our kids out of school back in March 2020, and we dove into homeschooling headfirst. To say that it has been a hellish year is an understatement, but we tell ourselves that it was worth it because we kept our kids safe. We know that there will finally be a vaccine for kids by fall, so we’ve re-enrolled them into school for next year, but not without great hesitation and a ton of back-and-forth what-if games.
I worry about my kids’ mental health and what kind of damage we’ve done to their academic growth by yanking them out of school. We refused to let our kids see most of their friends because we simply didn’t trust their parents to follow CDC guidelines. As a result, we created a pandemic pod of several families who saw the Covid crisis the same way we did. We gathered outside, wearing masks, and stayed distanced — even in the fridged temperatures of Maine winter.
But today, the mask mandate is being lifted where I live, and the CDC is pretty much going with the honour system. Unvaccinated people are supposed to wear masks in public. Vaccinated people are safe to go without masks. But when half the country refused to follow even the most basic public health guidelines and thus sent Covid cases surging across the country in 2020, how the hell am I supposed to trust that these same wreckless people will follow an honour system now?
I am fully vaccinated, and I know that I am likely safe from getting the virus, but breakthrough cases are happening everywhere, including in my community. So, I will remain vigilant and keep wearing my mask. And I will also stay vigilant about keeping my kids away from the general public.
Our summer will be another low-key season of trips into the woods and little-known beaches where we won’t be likely to see others. We’ll stick to our pandemic pod of families who are just as reluctant as we are to take their masks off and start venturing to theme parks and indoor spaces.
If the parents we are hanging out with are all vaccinated (and they are), and the kids haven’t been exposed to unvaccinated people (we ask these questions directly), we can play outside together, without masks. That’s our rule for now. Our house of worship is still mainly holding online services, thankfully, and we have most things delivered to our home to avoid shopping in public. We have no plans to change this any time soon.
I’ve never lived through a pandemic before, and I don’t know how this is supposed to go. I don’t think anyone does, really. I’m a worried mum trying to keep my family safe given what information we have available. I miss the days of chatting with other mums at school pick-ups and school assemblies when all of our adorable kids would sing and recite poems on a stage. I miss taking my kids to the arcade and birthday parties and the movies. Of course, I miss all of those things. But when I see families struggling with Covid long-haul symptoms, and when I see another obituary for family members of friends, it stops me in my tracks and makes me angry that we couldn’t get our collective shit as a country together enough to stop this from happening.
And so, my family will keep waiting this out with our masks and vaccines. We are not ready to return to normal despite the new CDC guidelines. And to be frank, I don’t think we will until kids begin to get the vaccine.