Monthly Archives: November 2020

“I’m Not An Exception”

My daughter turned 20 this weekend. For those of you who didn’t get the memo, birthdays are a big deal for the Wilkie/Robinson Clan. Handed down over the generations is an expectation that you deserve to celebrate, and be celebrated, on the day you were born ~ because the world is better for your presence.

This year because of the pandemic Megan is living at home. Two and a half hours away from her university campus ~ a campus that is barely (by the skin of her teeth BARELY) in another Province.

So as you can imagine 20th Birthday Plans have been in the works for a long time ~ especially because of the pandemic and not seeing everyone like usual. The party was planned (within the guidelines of 10 people) dinner reservations made, dresses tried on, drinks purchased, bags packed and surprise decorations apparently ready to be erected. Three nights and four days of being back together and celebrating. The group chat was blowing up with anticipation.

And then Thursday comes. At 4pm on Thursday we were having Megan’s Family Party before she left for Sackville. At 3:45 pm she gets a text that NB Zone 1 (which includes Sackville) is going to Orange Level. This means different things, but one thing it includes is no travel recommended in or out of the Zone.

Megan stoically smiles through the family party but it’s not until afterwards that we get a chance to talk about any of the developments.

The disappointment is so evident on her face ~ we talk about the horrible timing ~ about how she feeling ~ and about what decision she is going to make. She is, after all, 20 years old now.

We talk about how grey things are – how travel is not ‘restricted’ but also how NB is only allowed one other household bubble now. How we aren’t in lockdown, how difficult it is to make these decisions, and how in reality she could probably get away with it.

But the thing that stands out to me most about the conversation are six little words she says to me as she is sitting on the stairs looking at me through frustrated tears.

“But Mom, I’m not an exception”.

And that’s it. That’s the hardest thing for each of us to truly understand and put into action. It’s so easy to preach about following public health directives until a situation directly affects YOU and YOUR plans and YOUR loved ones ~ and when you are faced with decisions that aren’t breaking any ‘restrictions’ … just ‘recommendations’.

We could all talk ourselves into being the exception ~ how our one little action won’t make things worse. We are just one person. We just want to do this one little thing.

But THIS is where the rubber meets the road.

And my daughters’ words really brought that home for me.

“I’m not an exception.”

As much as I respect Premier McNeil and Dr Strang’s need to identify where community spread is coming from – and boy do I ever – I hope they also remember there ARE young people out there making decisions that are thoughtful, empathetic, responsible and community driven.

They are making these decisions with sacrifice ~ and I know people may roll their eyes at that word sacrifice ~ not hosting parties isn’t much of a sacrifice ~ but remember what it’s like to be young ~ really try and remember.

So you’re right Megan. You may not be the exception in this circumstance. But you coming to that conclusion and putting it into action (or actually inaction) by staying home this weekend, sure does make you “exceptional” in my book.

My Non Personal Personal Decisions (and the struggle with my internal Gumby)

It’s November 2020 and we are marking roughly eight months into the Covid 19 pandemic.

Pandemic.

Do we go more than 48 hours anymore without saying this word out loud?

I know for a fact we don’t go more than 24 hours without hearing it or reading it ~ that’s for sure.

It has become our new normal (insert me cringing at buzz words) which actually makes me wonder if we know what the word normal even means anymore.

What I do know is that throughout these past eight months I have felt that I am constantly making internal declarations about where I stand at any given time on some sort of pandemic spectrum.

Firmly following public health guidelines was easy when we were locked down.

Ok. Maybe easy isn’t the right word. But I was confident and clear in my decisions. And the majority of people around me were making the same decisions.

And then June came, restrictions were lifted and a feeling of safety washed over us.

It was a window of opportunity. If I said these words once I said them 100 times, and we took advantage of them. The good weather, the low infection rate, the Atlantic bubble. I clung to it all and ate it up like candy.

Venturing back into society, rekindling in-person family adventures and friendship.

It was blissful, and if I listened closely I could hear a collective sigh.

But now we are at another precipice ~ the beginning of the second wave and the first signs of community spread in NS.

It is all a little less clear now. The waters are murky, everyone is tired and I don’t think things will be as straight forward as they were in March. There is fatigue and our comfort levels are all over the map for many reasons.

So I’m left to make decisions that seem to change not only daily, but hourly, in my mind.

I’m left with feelings of discomfort that are difficult to explain or put into words, and that others may or may not share ~ because it feels like now we are “navigating” rather than “following” and navigating is hard.

Navigating requires sorting through not only information and evidence, but also your heart, and making the best decisions based on everything from physical risk, mental health, connection and community health.

And so I’ve found myself navigating all of this since June (because again remember March to May were “easy” 😂) feeling like a Gumby Doll. One day I’m this, the other day I’m that.

The decisions keep getting harder. Do I do this? What about this? What about that? It’s outdoors with limited numbers. But I don’t have to. It’s not essential. What about that? Do I do that? I was comfortable with that yesterday ~ but now there’s new information.

But I guess in the end what I’ve realized is this:

Every decision I make ~ even when I’m feeling like Gumby changing my mind from one moment to the next ~ every decision I make comes from the most personal place ~ and that is to be able to be an active and physical presence in the lives of the people who matter most to me and who may be the most vulnerable (even if maybe everybody doesn’t know it)

So if I say yes to dinner one day and no the next, if I am suddenly uncomfortable riding in a car with you, if I don’t “like” your photos on social media because I’ve literally set insanely low screen limits for my own mental health, if I cancel plans that we made two weeks ago, if I go on a rant about the social determinants of health, if I hug you one day but not the other, if I say yes to having four boys over one day and no the next, if I balk at a weekend away I was excited about last month, if I insist on only eating on outdoor patios bundled up in blankets, if I remind you to wash your hands when you come into my home, if I take two steps back (figuratively) or one step back (literally) please try to remember … none of these decisions I’m making are personal toward you.

They aren’t personal at all.

Truly.

And yet ~ they are the most personal decisions I will ever make ~ because they are built completely around those who matter most to me. To those who raised me ~ to those I am raising ~ and to those who don’t share my blood but who I share a life with. Keeping them healthy. Keeping myself healthy so I can be available and present for them.

They are ~ at their very core ~ decisions based wholly in love.

And it’s then that my Gumby feelings fade away and become much more resolute ~ because I know in my heart there is nothing more important than that.