- My youngest daughter received her second vaccination last week and is finally fully vaccinated.
- I feel like I’ve been waiting an eternity for this moment, and I don’t know where to go from here.
- I don’t know what our limits are now, but we are ready to do more.
Last week my youngest daughter got her second shot of Moderna’s Covid19 vaccine. We are now a fully vaccinated family, a statement that feels surreal when you apply words.
We waited forever, but our chance to make her appointment came abruptly and I didn’t hesitate for a moment. Unlike the other chaotic moments during this pandemic, I was not skeptical or confused. I had no difficult options to weigh. There were no options, only memories of 2 and years leading up to a decision.
COVID has determined her life
I remember the details – too many. COVID has framed too many moments from her little life: the last day of daycare, her all-important naps, her first steps—an ominous delight, her first time in a mask, her difficult transitions with new people. Always the threat of disease hung low as a cloud – if not directly, then indirectly from the impact on how we raised through constant tests of our fortitude.
As a mother in this family, I find it difficult to move on.
I am grateful that I have had the combination of privilege and luck to protect my children, but I am deeply troubled by how many people would not even try for us. Like we’re buzzkills, energy suckers, more examples of millennials working their way through adulthood, every “once-in-a-lifetime” challenge at a time.
We also longed for normality. We also wanted it to be over.
Parents of small children felt abandoned
The pandemic is not over yet. To draw that conclusion is a results-oriented cop-out of the kind that has made us, the parents of small children, feel minimized for the past 2 and a half years.
I was stunned last summer when the Biden administration declared victory over COVID, digital confetti flying over our phones as mask mandates were lifted across the country with little concrete information about when our kids would get their shots.
The “back to office” story — still with no option to vaccinate our children — sprang from the same effort to prioritize economic incentives over the American family. Both could have been achieved if our schools had had the support they needed to operate safely and continuously, but that was not the case.
The truth is that I often felt like a burden to society, and as if our children were a burden. We felt tolerated rather than supported by leaders, colleagues, and sometimes even our loved ones. It is difficult to rebuild trust from there. So now that the whole family is invited to the party, is there anything left to celebrate?
I don’t know what our limits are anymore
My whole family is now vaccinated. Right now we have a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ that revolves around this fact, this moment and everything that happens after that.
Our behavior changes: we let go. I don’t remember what our limits are, but I have to give us every opportunity to expand them. If not, I will hold onto my fear and resentment forever, or worse, force more of it on my children.
They have lived under these boundaries and rules with only a scant understanding of why we had them for a long time. My girls should see the insides of more stores, play at more friends’ homes, and take the train to a new place. But the shift is greater than what they can or cannot do. I try to give them back something they may not even realize they’ve lost, or in the case of my youngest, something she never had: her full childhood.
Now that we’re here, I want them to wish, hope, and believe. Because maybe if they do, I will too.
Joelle Boneparth is a lawyer and writer. her newsletter, Our little rebellions, celebrates women’s subtle victories to help them realize greater gains in their lives. follow her Twitter.