When I first found out about coronavirus, I didn't think much of it. It wasn't in the United States yet and I didn't feel personally threatened by it at all.
I had no idea it would become what we are experiencing today.
I have been married to my husband for nearly 7 years and we have three beautiful children together all aged 5 and under. Our life is pretty normal and our kids are happy children that are excited about all of the things they get to do in life.
But, there was a looming cloud starting to form over us once we found out more about coronavirus and who it affects the most.
Unfortunately, my husband and all three of our children have asthma at varying degrees. Asthma is a huge part of our life and a part of my journey as a mother. I even have a blog dedicated to being an asthma mom called Breathe in Wheeze out.
When Coronavirus hit the United States
When we started having cases here in the United States, I started getting a little more nervous. But again, I live in Cleveland, OH. We didn't get our first case until a little later.
I went to the store and bought some supplies way before most people just in case. I went to the pharmacy and made sure I had a few months supply of all of the asthma medicines my family takes.
Imagine needing to stock up on 4 different preventative steroid inhalers that will only last one month plus all the fast-acting albuterol inhalers and other medicines. If you are stocking up for a while, it can get really expensive.
I was starting to feel it in our budget before anyone around me even got sick.
I remember looking at my kids and thinking that there is no way that I could survive if something happened to one of them.
But at this point, it was just a passing thought every so often and I was able to ignore it as best I could.
When Ohio got our "Stay at home" orders
Then, Governor DeWine issued our stay at home orders. I remember being so nervous ahead of that day. I didn't want my three asthmatic kids to spend one more second than necessary in their daycare.
Thankfully, my work let me leave and work from home a few days earlier than everyone else.
My first day home with my kids was St. Patrick's Day.
I specifically remember because I had purchased special outfits for them to all wear to school. I usually do it for all the holidays as a way to make the day extra special.
But now, it just feels silly. I got them up and got them dressed in their outfits but I was so out of sorts trying to figure out how to work full time from home, with three small kids, that I didn't even get a picture of them in their green.
I was so worried that something was going to happen to my kids that I couldn't focus on anything else.
I remember thinking a whole lot about what I would do if one of them, or all of them got sick. Then it went to what would happen if my husband and I both got sick and had to be hospitalized.
We are completely alone here in Cleveland with nobody that can help watch our kids in an emergency like that. But even if there were someone, how would I ask them to watch my kids who had been exposed and probably have Coronavirus?
This stuff kept me up at night. I wasn't able to enjoy my kids being home at first because I was just literally scared they would die 24/7.
A few weeks in to quarantine
After a few weeks, I started to feel a bit less scared. Until, our supplies ran out and we couldn't get groceries delivered for at least a week.
Being the only one in the family without asthma, I had to go out to the grocery store to stock up.
I remember walking down the nearly empty aisles and it felt like a scene from handmaids tale. Everyone looked terrified to be there. Music wasn't playing over the loudspeakers either. It was a woman's voice, eerily telling everyone to stay 6 feet apart and to move one way in the aisles.
Seeing everyone walking around in masks was actually really scary for me. It was just such a stark contrast to how things were just a few weeks ago. I didn't think it would feel that way but seeing it in person changed everything.
When I got home from the grocery store, my kids were all ready and waiting. Excited to help put all the items away and see what kind of food I got for them.
But I couldn't let them help this time. They didn't understand why they couldn't touch anything in the bags or even me until we got everything wiped down with lysol wipes.
A few days later, I felt warm and thought I might have a fever. But I was alone in my car, about 25 minutes away from my house and my thermometer.
At that moment, it all hit me. The fear that I had gotten coronavirus from the grocery store and brought it home to my family full of high-risk people. I started panicking and sobbing. I felt sick to my stomach. I was imagining every worst-case scenario and how I would handle it and what I would need to do.
When I got home, I didn't have a fever and I didn't get sick. But my perspective on motherhood had already changed.
A new understanding of motherhood
I have always been thankful for my kids and loved being a mother.
But, as the weeks go on, I'm starting to notice how my idea of being a mother has changed.
I used to feel like I was doing a great job if they were eating well, sleeping well, behaving....
Now, I feel that the most important part of being a mother, is seeing your own family as your refuge. Feeling like we are each other's safe place.
I am unbelievably thankful that my husband and kids haven't gotten Coronavirus so far. I take pride in the fact that they are safe right now. All of the little things that I do and feel all day every day during this quarantine are making a difference.
I value every easy breath that they take. I watch them sit quietly and notice their little chests going up and down each time they breathe in and out. Even as an asthma mom, I've never paid so much attention to that.
We've settled in to being together all the time as a family and it feels wonderful. It feels like a safe haven being all together in a time like this.
I know the return to normal is lurking in the distance and it's really scary. Now, instead of being scared of me passing it to them, I'm afraid of everyone else.
But being able to slow down and see the tiny details that you normally miss has been the greatest gift I could ever ask for. And I'm not talking about the obvious getting to spend more time with your kids or letting them get a taste of a simple childhood kind of stuff.
I'm talking about appreciating a child who is safe for that minute in your arms. Watching them breathe, watching them smile. Why did I ever care about matching holiday outfits or what schedule they were on?
Today, we went for a drive through the park and my kids rolled down their windows, stuck their hands out and tried to "catch the air." How simple. How sweet.
Aren't we all just trying to "catch the air" at this point? Breathe another safe breathe until we go out to brave the world again?
I don't think I will ever look at my children the same way again. I don't think, after all this, that I will ever take any part of them for granted again. Listening to them talk about "the virus" and walking around our house with their face masks and goggles on to stay safe has been incredibly eye opening.
I have learned to look at them differently.... see them differently.
They've always been a blessing. But now, they are my breath of fresh air.