Surely there will be more than what I’m about to say. The lessons and observations aren’t done yet – are they ever? COVID-19 has taught us a lot about ourselves and others lately.

Just like you, our family has had some adjusting and fighting through the crazies just like the next family. Irritable moods, wanting to social distance from each other, run away, the usual feelings when adjusting to being quarantined. I think anyway, this is our first one after all!

I have noticed so many opportunities to teach my kids about life and how to navigate it well during this COVID-19 Pandemic. Well, navigate the best we possibly can. From the things they’ve noticed and asked about and the things I have witnessed servicing specialty projects as an essential employee in different cities, this is where we land on what’s going on.

From the questions and struggles of my girls – 13 and 10.

1. “Mom, what is going to happen with school and with food?” Girls, eventually we will go back to school but not for a while and we are told to not worry about food or clothes or any of that. Our Father knows we need those things and right now we are being provided for by your dad’s job and my two jobs. What we need to do is find all the ways to support places that help bring food to those who need it and pray for those who need work and financial breaks to get them through this time. We are to be sensitive to the fact that there are many people who are very uncertain about how they are going to take care of their families.

2. “Home, then school, then school, then school, then school, then school, then home, then church.” No, sweet baby. We have a new routine. I fill out the days on the calendar I made on the whiteboard starting at the beginning of March when they first got out of school. I filled out through April, knowing deep within me they wouldn’t be going back even in May. This helped my child with autism see that we had a new routine. I explained to her that school was closed and they didn’t want people to get sick so we have to stay home. After about a month she calmed down about the routine and has settled into this one.

 3. “Do we have to homeschool?” At first, I wasn’t about it. Let’s take some time off and we will get around to it. Finally, we started, two weeks ago actually. We work in the mornings and my teen is self sufficient but my youngest needs a lot of guidance – which she doesn’t particularly like from me. I have to tell her she’s got to do SOMETHING in the learning department besides baking and art! Teaching a child with special needs is not for the faint of heart. It comes with a lot of patience and feelings I try not to think about in regards to what my child is able to do and what she isn’t able to do at the moment. The older children on the spectrum get, the more obvious the gaps in what their peers can do in comparison. And yes, comparison is the thief of joy. We have a lot to be thankful for in my little’s abilities given her brain injury. But homeschooling is not my jam. I’d rather not but it’s a good thing to stretch me and them. Being flexible in life is very important to your level of happiness.

4. “How worried do we need to be about COVID-19?” Here’s where I may lose some of you – I believe we have had this thing run through my house twice now. Once in late 2019, my oldest had a high-grade fever (about 3-4 days) and PERSISTENT dry cough (over two weeks.) I capitalize because it was the worst cough anyone in my home has ever had. Transparency – it drove me a bit nutty. I asked her, “Can you even take a single breath without coughing? This is crazy.” Without the wetness and a background of respiratory issues like asthma or bronchitis, I did what I always do – let it ride. My husband took a trip to DC late February and came home sick. He was at first sick to his stomach for two days and then massive cold/chest issues. Again, no history but really gross sick. We treat at home with a lot of natural remedies when we get ill and he got better with rest and some old school help and the rest of us didn’t catch it.

This all being said, I respect this coronavirus whether we have had it or not, but we will not live in fear of it. Here is the place I instill in them that people catch illnesses and they don’t all die from them. Sometimes they do die from them and in these cases, it was truly their time to go.

Some people avoid the thought of death. Some fear it to the point of being controlled by trying to find a way to never catch anything or develop diseases that could or could not be preventable. Some of us have made peace with death and this isn’t rocking us hard. COVID-19 is making the majority of people avoiding it or fearing it deal with it. It isn’t so pretty.

Death is as sure as living. If we are alive, we will die. There is no avoiding it so we should be paying more attention to what will happen to us after we die than how not to die. Again, not being irresponsible here, I don’t suggest we not take care of ourselves or others, just that we need to make peace with the fact we will die. Respect the smart ideas that we should not touch our face in public, we should wash our hands and make healthy choices, and stay home when we are sick.

We try to avoid being close to people in public – I like to do this anyway – but we will not live in bondage to fear of a virus we may or may not catch and may or may not die from if we do. The Holy Spirit is our peace and we decide if we want to rest there or in fear. My family will choose the peace God left with us when Jesus left earth – the Holy Spirit.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus and knowing we have a place in eternity with God fuels us with peace in this COVID-19 chaos

A few things I have learned from being an essential employee:

1. People have unrealistic expectations of what employees with no control over inventory can do for them. And they can be so mean and entitled. The way some of the employees that are forward facing with the customers get yelled at and nastily spoken to – not going to lie I’m pretty glad I don’t have to be customer facing – is so disheartening. Things get swiped off the shelves as soon as they are put on it, products that should be replenished didn’t make it to the store. Orders that aren’t fulfilled because of out of stock items is not the employee’s fault.

Many of the essential employees in your stores like Target and Kroger for example, are young employees who are not completely scared of COVID-19 or if they are the are fighting through their fear and coming to work anyway. They didn’t say they wouldn’t work and draw unemployment instead. They are in there for us. We were all young at one time and less experienced than we are now. The level of stress they are under because of how people are treating them and fighting their own fear to keep doing their job is so apparent in their eyes. The older employees are fighting a greater fear knowing they are more likely to be really sick from this illness should they catch it and they are showing up to take care of their families and their communities anyway.

Sure, most of them have masks and gloves on but you can see their eyes. For the love people, those working in the stores to make sure you have products to buy for your ease of comfort comes at the cost of people who never imagined taking this job would be so hard on them.

2. STOP THROWING YOUR GLOVES AND MASKS ON THE GROUND! If you are so worried about catching COVID-19, don’t go out to the stores at all. Order it all to your home. Everything you touched with those gloves – every product, your keys, wallet, car door and more – are already covered in what those gloves touched. Don’t be so disrespectful to the people working to keep you with the things you need. It’s unloving, seriously downright hateful, pure and simple.

3. People who are afraid show their fear in aggressive and/or irrational ways. I think back to the times in my life where I have been the most afraid – times that the fear was so overwhelming that I behaved in ways that if my fear had been in check and my eyes fixed on my Savior and not my circumstances, I would have lived differently. I would have acted differently.

This is where I try to remember to give grace to the people who look at me nasty because I don’t have a mask and gloves on – because I’m not sick and I’m not scared. I will give grace when people make nasty comments when my kids join me in social distancing on an outing to get supplies to make a dirt box to give my daughter a sensory toy so she gets vitamin D and an outlet to help her stay healthy and calm. I will pray for my fellow co-workers who are completely overwhelmed and the random angry/scared individual that isn’t being so kind.

I tell my girls all of these things so hopefully they will be considerate, loving and understanding members of society.

We are all in this together so let’s love one another.

Catherine King