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Challenge: Taking Care of YOU

To essential employees worried about being around your kids, I get your fears

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My daily routine of going to the office changed a week ago.

My company does proactive deep cleaning and biohazard cleanup, which places us into the category of being an essential business.

Although my position does not directly deal with customers, there's always the possibility of being exposed to COVID-19. Not to mention the fact that I am at a higher risk of developing coronavirus. I live with two autoimmune diseases, along with ongoing complications that began a year ago after experiencing heart failure.

Why do I continue to work knowing all of the risk factors involved to obtain a paycheck? As a parent, you do what is necessary. I do love my job and will continue to go into the office until I'm told differently.

Of course, this creates a new kind of dilemma whenever I walk through the door after each workday. My boys are home all day and doing their online classes. The very thought of sitting at the dining room table with them to eat dinner does worry me a bit. Even if I don't exhibit any symptoms of this virus, I could still be a carrier and risk exposing my kids to it.

Not that I didn't have excellent hygienic practices before the coronavirus epidemic, but I'm closely following all of the recommended CDC guidelines for cleanliness.

Every morning I get into my vehicle to make the commute from my small town of 500 people to the city of 150,000 where I'm employed. The second I get out of my SUV, I go directly into the office where we have minimal office staff then stay there until my shift is over for that day.

I coordinate trips to the grocery store and gas station so that I am only going once a week. While I make those outings, I wear latex gloves and carry homemade disinfecting wipes to clean any surface I may come into contact with.

I might not be a physician, nurse, first responder, grocery store clerk, gas station attendant, or employee at a restaurant or fast food place. Still, I am classified as an essential employee and a parent with children at home that I want to spend time with every evening.

I want nothing more than to hug them tightly before heading off to bed, to assure them things will somehow be OK. I just can't help from being overly hesitant and afraid to come into close contact with them. And that is not something I ever thought I would experience as their mom.

At the end of your work day, try to not be so hard on yourself. Remember, you are parent doing the best you can with circumstances none of us truly know how to navigate through. We are all in this together.

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