I read an article about New Yorkers who escaped the city during the height of the pandemic. The article was from the perspective of someone who stayed. And the article was all about resent.
This pandemic has created powerful feelings of resentment for some of us. For me. Feelings that for me, started as seeds, shortly after she was born. Seeds that sprouted and grew with each comment suggesting I was overreacting regarding the rules we laid out about illness. Rules that were dictated to us by doctors. Those seeds grew and grew larger, when people continued to hold fast to those beliefs, saying we could never shield her from illness. Seeds that blossomed when it was suggested we should just keep her home if we were so concerned about her getting sick. Seeds that turned into a forest, when twice during the spring of 2018 she got so sick that her oxygen saturations dropped in the 60’s, and she ended up hospitalized for a virus. Seeds that took over like an invasive species, when she had surgery and it became clear I had to pull her from school early in order to avoid her getting sick, as people I knew, people I considered friends, knowingly sent their feverish children to her classroom.
And this was all before anyone even whispered the words pandemic and Coronavirus.
That resentment hasn’t dissipated. And it’s growing again. I keep hearing in my head over and over, “everyone cares about the high-risk folks, until suddenly they don’t”. Until it’s no longer convenient. When most of the country was forced into their homes, watching their televisions, they loved the doctors and nurses doing the work. They spoke of protecting those who were high risk. But now?
Those people are forgotten. It’s all opening schools and businesses. It’s socializing and vacations. It’s shelving and hiding the high risk, and gasps and irritation when they don’t comprehend why you’re still living this way.
It’s not as though I want things shut down forever. I understand there are ways to do things safely. But when my concerns, my decisions on how to keep my child safe are questioned, it’s incredibly difficult not to feel resentment. When I know there are people who think I am overreacting and brush it off as being crazy. How dare anyone try to dictate how I keep my child alive, when it’s been such a huge part of parenting her for her entire life. How dare anyone who hasn’t had to sign a consent listing death as a possible outcome have any sort of opinion. How dare you even think those thoughts when you haven’t watched someone perform CPR on your child. If you’ve never sat bedside praying for your child to live, you just can’t understand. Period.
And yes, I know that much of this thought process for me is trauma driven. It’s a trauma response. I live far too much of my life in fight or flight mode. But I’m also a very logical, fact driven person. And when I know I’m using trauma thinking, that’s when I look at the evidence to make sure I’m not just using my fear to drive my decisions. Evidence like she IS high risk. Her heart is wonky. She still has arrhythmias, and left ventricular dysfunction just to name a few. Evidence like the JAMA study which looked at cardiac MRI’s for people recovered from COVID, that showed 78% of them had abnormalities of the heart and myocardial inflammation, even in mild cases. That 60% of those studied had elevated levels of Troponin, which indicates heart damage. Anecdotally, I know parents send their children to school sick all the time. I was in my daughter’s classroom every week throughout her entire public-school career. There were sick kids every day. I can’t imagine a pandemic is going to change that, no matter how much we think it should.
One year ago was the last day she was in school. I remember telling her teacher the kids wouldn’t be coming back. I knew what was coming, and I knew things were shutting down. My children have been home for a year. And they’ve missed so much. But so many people have lost so much this year. And we’re all still here.
So here I am. Resentful. And I know I’m not alone. But it feels that way. As much as I try to shove it down, to look at it from their perspective, to be a better person, I just can’t. I’m still here. We’re still here. Making decisions based on evidence, guidance, and gut instinct. It’s how I’ve parented her since she was born. How she’s stayed alive. How I found the best surgeon in the country to care for her heart. I don’t question my decisions. I’ve learned from the nurses in my life how to find the data. I’ve learned from other heart moms that most of the time, I’m the person in the room who knows the most about my child’s heart. I’ve learned from parenting a child with a heart defect to trust myself, and to advocate for my child like no one else will.
So here I am, feeling full of resent. And as much as I wish I didn’t feel it, it’s also ok. We live in a country where we don’t prioritize taking care of one another. Where capitalism trump’s humanitarianism. I’m ok with resenting that sentiment and wanting something better. Because I would choose these children every day, and in the end, that’s all that matters.