I made a mistake yesterday. It’s been so long and I’m so numb and tired of dealing with COVID that I had a lapse in judgment.
As many of you know, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Em (short for Emily) has severe cerebral palsy. She requires some level of care and supervision 24/7. Since my wife Allison and I both work full-time, we either have in-home nursing care or extremely generous grandparents—who we are so thankful for but don’t thank often enough—watch her during the day on weekdays.
Yesterday morning I was sitting at our kitchen island eating breakfast while Em sat in her specialty chair next to me listening to her Spotify playlist. Em’s nurse texted Allison, but Allison was on a work call and didn’t reply right away. So she texted me and said she had a “light cough and runny nose, but no fever.” I thought about how to respond for a second and replied back, “I think it’s fine as long as you’re able to wear a mask when you’re here.” Then I texted Allison letting her know I had made that executive decision.
Twenty minutes later, Em’s nurse showed up promptly at nine o’clock and started prepping Em’s next feeding tube meal.
Let’s pause here for a moment. Now, dear reader, I’m not asking you to pick sides, but at this point in the story you might agree that I made a perfectly fine decision. But, you may also find it ironic that Allison’s company does COVID testing. This irony is not lost on me.
To provide some further context and perhaps shed some light on my decision, let me explain. As you may know, COVID has been sort of a big issue in the past year. Perhaps you watch the news occasionally and saw a story about it. Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), she’s been insanely busy with work. They had one employee (her) when they shifted to building out the testing business back in August and now they have over sixty employees. And she’s heading up the whole operation. Long story short, it’s stressful.
Yesterday was a particularly stressful morning for her. I’ll spare you the details since I’m not sure how much I can share and I also don’t know all the details. Suffice it to say, I was trying to help alleviate some small amount of her stress by allowing the nurse to take care of Em for the day.
I could leave it at that and I’m sure you’d be satisfied with my reasoning. But I’d be withholding information from you. And my vow with this weekly newsletter is to write “personal, vulnerable, and sometimes funny stories” so I better deliver on that promise. This story is clearly personal and hopefully has made you smile here and there. But I haven’t been as vulnerable as I could be.
I usually spend my days working at my parent’s house across town. Technically, it’s their second home. They spend most of their time in Las Vegas and haven’t been back here to Sonoma since August, coincidentally around the time Allison launched the COVID testing business. I remember my Dad and I helped her out and spent a Saturday afternoon driving around Petaluma looking for potential testing sites.
It’s been nice to have their place so close. It’s like having a private office where I can get away from the house for the day, get some work done, and generally be able to focus more. Plus, it makes doing Zoom calls way easier without the possibility of Em crying out or my eleven-year-old stepdaughter Sara bursting into the room.
That’s a long way of saying I was looking forward to going there yesterday. I had a fair amount of work to get done, a couple of scheduled calls, and I wanted to spruce up a draft to publish in this morning’s newsletter. Now I have a draft that’s almost ready for next week, which I suppose is a nice side effect.
In some ways, it feels wrong to admit that I enjoy being away from my home and my family for the day. Our life at home with Em can be hectic and exhausting. Even though I go there to work, it feels like a break. It’s a way to be alone for several hours where I don’t have to worry about anyone other than myself.
After her work call, Allison walked out to the kitchen and said she didn’t feel comfortable with my decision. She apologized to Em’s nurse. I was frozen and didn’t know what to say. I felt deflated and embarrassed. But of course, she was right. I was putting her anxiety and stress about her work, as well as my needs and wants, above the health of our family. I got so hung up on wanting the day to be as normal as it could be, that I lost sight of what’s most important—our family’s health. And in the process, I somehow lost sight of the fact that we’re still in the midst of a deadly global pandemic.
It was a lapse in judgment.
During these pandemic times, I’ve often been judgmental of those who refuse to wear masks or who don’t practice social distancing. Back in the early days when we were more worried about sanitizing surfaces, groceries, and Amazon packages, I remember being the only person wearing a mask in Sonoma Market. It made me furious that others didn’t understand the severity of the issue. And yet here I was making a mistake for selfish reasons while my daughter Em—who has a history of respiratory issues—was sitting in her chair right next to me.
To add yet another level of irony to this story, both Allison and I were able to get the first dose of the COVID vaccine yesterday.
So with a bit of a tender upper right arm, I write this as a reminder to both you and myself that we still have a long way to go with this thing. We’ll make it through, but we have to stay vigilant.
Do you have a pandemic story of your own to share? Maybe you can help make me feel less dumb for what I did yesterday. That would be so nice of you. Don’t worry, this is a judgment-free zone.
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"In some ways, it feels wrong to admit that I enjoy being away from my home and my family for the day. " --Yup. But you also have to be a human being outside of your home and your family in order to be the best dad when you're with them. <3 Thanks for sharing!
Thoroughly enjoy reading your work. -thank you Lyle